On 3 October 2021, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions passed a resolution to dissolve at a special general meeting, bringing an end to its 31-years history.
“The soul, not the physical structure, is the most essential aspect of any organisation.” HKCTU’s General Secretary Lee Cheuk-Yan wrote to HKCTU’s members at the meeting from jail. “Our hope remains as long as the soul holds onto each of us.”
Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. (Psalm 126:5) We must not discount our past efforts. HKCTU has sown the seed of conviction in independent labour movement in Hong Kong: some fruits have ripened, and others will follow in a favourable climate. All the pathways we have travelled, and all the footprints we have left, will certainly lead others to follow and continue the journey.Lee Cheuk-Yan’s letter to HKCTU’s members on 3/10/2021
Lee Cheuk-Yan began his journey in the labour movement in 1978. After graduating from the University of Hong Kong, Lee opted to serve grassroots workers over working as a civil engineer. His first job was to support workers injured in the industrial accidents and their families. Lee then joined the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee, where he helped organising workers demanding back wages and severance pay, particularly those who lost their job because of the economic transformation. Lee then became increasingly involved in Hong Kong’s social and democracy movements and eventually elected as a lawmaker.
My lifetime ideal is the empowerment of the poor and oppressed to speak out, to rise up for their rights. Whenever the oppressed assert their rights to fight for their dignity, I feel myself also empowered and inspired to continue the difficult struggle and challenges facing Hong Kong.Lee Cheuk-Yan’s statement at the court on 7/4/2023
Lee has been imprisoned since April 2021. He served a total of 20-month sentence in jail because of his role in peaceful protests including in the 2019 Hong Kong Protests and June 4 vigil. He is currently detained over a National Security Law charge related to his role in the Hong Kong Alliance.
Lee said June 4 is the nexus his passions and a turning point in his life. During the Tiananmen incident in 1989, Lee represented the people of Hong Kong and brought donations to Beijing to support the striking students. He witnessed the atrocity with his own eyes and pledged to tell the truth of June 4 to the world, a commitment he holds firmly even if it costs his freedoms.
Lee’s body may be imprisoned by bricks and walls, but not his drive to pursue his vision.
Despite setbacks, we are steadfast in our belief that the universal values of freedom, the rule of law, human rights and democracy that we have been struggling for will one day take root in Hong Kong and China. And on that day, we will be able to console the souls who came before us.Lee Cheuk-Yan’s statement at court on 17/11/2021