Yeung Wing-yu is a 23-year-old, former third-year student in the Land Surveying and Geo-Informatics faculty at Hong Kong Polytechnic University who, among four other people, was arrested in November 2019 for possession of nearly 140 finished or semi-finished petrol bombs. She had been in custody for nearly 18 months before she was sentenced to 38 months of jail term on Friday. The below is the full text of her petition letter presented to the court before the judge delivered her sentence.
Thank you for taking the time to read my heartfelt letter, which is more of a personal reflection than a plea for mercy. I understand the seriousness of the charges and that the court has no alternative but to hand down a longer term of imprisonment. Therefore, I will not hereby make any request for a lighter sentence. The only thing I can do now is to take responsibility for the consequences of the crime. As a person full of naive “foolishness” born in this generation, this is the rule that I must follow and practice, and accordingly, I will accept it without resentment.
During the 18 months I spent in prison, my family, friends and teachers never gave up on me, and the correctional services staff also treated me with great care. In the “void” days of my life, I was fortunate enough to get away from the hustle and bustle and reflect on myself, my family, society... At one time, I was lost and dominated by hatred, anger, and despair, which was indeed pathetic. This experience has brought me back to my true self, and I am finally out of the rut and free in my mind.
I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to my family. Growing up in a sweet, loving family, one should strive to move up the ladder with one’s own efforts and live a happy, humble life. However, things did not go as desired. The more I seek for knowledge, the more I feel that society is full of inequality and injustice. With a passionate heart but a lack of wisdom, I have committed the crime in this case. Although my parents are subjected to heavy life and mental pressure, they have never given up on me. The whole family suffers from the crime committed by just one single person. A friend once told me that my bedroom door is always shut now as my parents are sad to see the empty room where the laughter and joy have disappeared. I can only comfort them through the glass panels of the visiting room in prison, and I have not been able to spend much time with them during my imprisonment. I think the guilt and conscience I endured is the biggest punishment God can give me.
Almost everyone involved in this social movement is a victim, losing their health, their freedom, even their lives...and the biggest loss to our society as a whole is the loss of trust. The courtroom is by no means a place to discuss politics, so I just want to point out one thing - Most people during this epoch are caught in a tangled struggle that will lead to mutual destruction, but they are unable to break the deadlock. It is heartbreaking that many people of our age have to endure this sense of helplessness in life. We have no other option but to accept the situation. However, I would like to use my own experience to encourage my fellow companions to face the unknown with gentleness, compassion and determination. On this path of suffering towards growth, I have always been there with you, and we are not alone.
It is terrifying to be imprisoned and to lose one’s freedom, but the most terrifying thing is when a person gives up on him or herself. It would be too melodramatic and pessimistic to say that “After the case, the defendant’s dream to become a professional surveyor was crushed, her career is ruined, and all hope is lost for the future.” Admittedly, I am facing a huge change in my life, but at the same time, it is also an experience that will make one become mature and wise. In the future, I will still have my family and friends, my education and career, and my dreams and aspirations. There is no need to be sad or be worried about me because I will meet you all again as a better person.
The above is my statement. Thank you again, Your Honor, and thank you to my legal team who has accompanied me all this time. I sincerely wish you all the best of good health and happiness.
17 April 2021
Feel free to share this as you deem appropriate. It is the last thing I can do for all of you.
Given the certain circumstances, I hope this can bring a little strength to everyone. Stay alive, and keep your heart burning, as long as our hopes remain lit, there will be people around.
Never forget, and there shall be echoes. Let us all be encouraged.
And there are enough people in confinement already, so please take care to protect yourself and try to carry on in life!
I am waiting for you to write to me inside <3
19 April 2021
Click here for Chinese version
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