July 18, 2019

Special Presentation: How Hong Kong’s Civil Society is Under Assault

Moderated by Minky Worden, OPC Governor and Human Rights Watch director of global initiatives, the session on Hong Kong included brief anecdotes.

Lee Cheuk Yan, secretary of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Democratic Movements in China, described being allowed on a plane and then being detained once the authorities confirmed his name, all as a result of his political efforts.

Martin Lee, founding chairman of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, captured the audience’s attention by recounting a plan to buy a coffin with which to lead a political march, only to realize, ahead of the purchase, that this mixed message might have unintended results. When he changed the order, the person on the other end of the line said, according to Lee, “This is first time I’ve ever heard of anyone ordering a coffin and canceling it.”

Mak Yin-Ting, former chair of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, offered a grounding observation: “Telling the truth is our nature, our job as a reporter. But in China, you have to fight for it.”

Sometimes those activists and journalists win the fight, allowing for the truth to escape, even when people cannot.