Text of the speech given by Willis Ho at the Hong Kong Watch meeting in the UK House of Commons on July 11th 2019

Text of the speech given by Willis Ho at the Hong Kong Watch meeting in the UK House of Commons on July 11th 2019

A girl at the age of 21 committed suicide 2 days ago in Hong Kong, she released a clear statement before her death in protest of the Hong Kong government’s refusal to address the demand of the citizens for the anti extradition movement.

This is the third life the regime took in June, after a 35-year old man ended his life publicly two weeks ago.

And yesterday, there is one more young woman who has killed herself. She said she could not join us for the 1 of July demonstration but she would like us to carry on the struggle for democracy.

I am Willis Ho, one of the 13 activists convicted and sentenced to jail for 13 months in 2017 because of the land justice movement in Hong Kong. I was released three months after the Court of Appeal overturned the sentence.

Five years ago at the very end of the umbrella movement, Hong Kongers left a banner with the words “We will be back”, and now “We are back”.

In 2019, the Hong Kong Government introduced the extradition bill. Since the handover in 1997, extradition to China has been intentionally prohibited in order to protect HK’s independent legal system. The passage of the bill would surely breakdown this firewall between Hong Kong and China. This bill would not only affect Hong Kong people, but also the tourists, students, businessman and professionals who come to Hong Kong. This is the matter of everyone. Hong Kong’s Rule of Law would then be compromised. This bill endangers would step across the very last line of “One Country Two System”.

On 6th June, a million Hong Kong People took to the streets to protest against the bill. With a million citizens protesting on the street, the government released a statement refusing to back down.

On 12th June, several tens of thousands of protestors surrounded the headquarters of the government, resulting in a brutal crackdown. I was one of those protestors. On 12 of June, I was outside the headquarters of the government and witnessed the brutal police force. I saw police throw tear gas and shoot protesters even though they were attending a peaceful assembly. The police even shot rubber bullets at peoples’ heads and eyes.

2 thousands Hong Konger were being attacked and there was no pullback. People screamed and ran. I was so angry and I can’t believe that Police and CE Carrie Lam violently disperse Hong Kong people like this. A female protestor faced sexual violence by the police.  The police did not even allow her to tidy herself up and cover up her underwear after being beaten by them.

To make things worse, the police attacked journalists, firing tear gas and pepper spray at them, in order to keep them from filming what happened. Hong Kong police used unnecessary and excessive force. On the other side, the CE Carrie Lam labelled the assembly as a riot and supported the brutal police tactics; she rejected to launch an independent investigation.

In the next few days, 2 million people, which is 25% of the HK population, made their way to attend the march in such a tiny city. This is one of the largest demonstrations in Hong Kong’s history. People made a very strong statement to Carrie Lam and Beijing to withdraw the bill.

Many Hong Kongers commit and dedicate themselves to their hometown as their freedom and liberty are in great danger. Hong Kong people know the price. We all know that we may face political prosecutions. In the past few years, over 100 political prisoners have been sentenced to jail, the penalties range from a few months to 7 years. But Hong Kong people understand if we do not fight back. We will eventually lose our freedom entirely. We have no way out.

China is not only a dictatorial regime; it is actively exporting this form of politics and its means of surveillance the world. Beijing is enlarging its influence through diplomatic tactics, political and economic projects such as One Belt, One Road.  We should all be aware that the more influence and political power China gains internationally, the more democracy and freedom across the globe is at stake, the harder they will come at us, at our system, at our freedom.

Hong Kong has been on the frontline of a Global Battle For Freedom. Hong Kong is unique because we are facing the authoritarian governance from Beijing directly and at the same time, we have the room to voice OUT and fight BACK. With the pressure from China, this city defends and fights back again and again to tell China, Hong Kong is not a place that Beijing can control like any other Chinese city. The fact is that we are still strong and we are still fighting. This is what the Hong Kong and Beijing should be aware of and be afraid of.

I joined social movements 9 years ago; the first one is anti high-speed railway, and then labour strikes and the land movement.  I was born in Hong Kong and I realized that Hong Kong is the last battlefield in China where we can still tell the truth. In 2017, I became a prisoner. When I was in jail, I learnt not to escape from reality, but to bravely face the dark age in Hong Kong and continue to fight for our democracy. I’ve learn to love and care about the oppressed. I’ve learnt to face the trauma and become a stronger Hong Konger, like any other citizen in our city.

I am so depressed and in a deep sorrow in the past few years as many of my friends and Hong Kongers are being continuously sentenced to jail. I believe that many Hong Kongers feel desperate and hopeless. I think that we should face our trauma, as I believe that our emotions do have public interest.  For those who love Hong Kong, their sadness, anger and passion are connected. We fight for our land together and we feel depressed together. And we could and should be brave together.

Now, Hong Kong people urge the government to completely withdraw the Extradition Bill, to release all protesters. Also, The HK government should set up an independent body, to investigate into different forms of violence including verbal violence, sexual violence, physical violence and brutality caused by the police.

International support is very important. We welcome all form of pressure on Hong Kong and Chinese government. The President Xi and Carrie Lam should know that the world is watching us.

We are here to urge the MPs and UK government to push the Hong Kong government to completely withdraw the extradition bill, as the bill would constitute a breach of one country two systems under the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

The UK government must push the Hong Kong government to investigate the excessive use of force against peaceful protesters, which has been verified to be a violation of international law and standards on the use of force by police by Amnesty International.

While The US politicians proposed the Human Rights & Democracy Act, the UK government should also tie the trade deal with provision to guarantee human rights in Hong Kong in the event of any future free trade deals with Hong Kong and China.

Hong Kong People uphold universal values. We are not only fighting for the freedom for Hong Kong, but for the world. We need your support and action, we need all people around the world who uphold the universal values to tell the dictatorial regime, stop abusing our human rights and we need a just and fair world.

We were not born in a birdcage; we refuse to be locked in a birdcage.