Bonnie Leung, international spokeswoman for Hong Kong march organizers the Civil Human Rights Front, traveled to Washington this week to receive a Citizen Power Award from the NGO Citizen Power for China. Leung will also be lobbying hard on behalf of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, as the Senate gets ready to debate a bill that would enable sanctions for officials deemed responsible for human rights violations there. Leung, a district councilor who got involved in politics during the 2014 Occupy Central movement, spoke to RFA's Mandarin Service about the group's goals for the months-long protests that have gripped the city since early June:
Our convenor Jimmy Sham was subjected to a violent attack a few days ago, which was the second episode of violence he has suffered. But this time, they hit his head with hammers, so it could have been fatal. Why are we seeing attacks like this in Hong Kong? It's not just Jimmy Sham; other Hong Kong protesters have also been targeted.
Right now, the Hong Kong government and police force aren't doing anything to bring these violent thugs to justice. I think we are going to see more and more of these thugs because the [authorities] aren't doing their jobs.
Winning this award is a great opportunity for the rest of the world to tell the Hong Kong government and police force that while they may think there will be no consequences for their protection of these pro-Beijing thugs, the rest of the world is watching Hong Kong.
In the U.S., the House of Representatives has already passed some measures aimed at protecting Hong Kong, so this award, and the actions of Congress all send the same message: that the U.S. is watching, and the world is watching.
I have met with members of Congress. According to my information, it looks pretty likely that this legislation will be passed by Congress. But we can't relax until the day that that actually happens. This is why we have come to the U.S.: basically to meet with different politicians, so we can explain what is happening in Hong Kong.
I think that once they have a full understanding of the situation in Hong Kong, it will encourage the rest of the world to stand up for Hong Kong, as the only Chinese city that is a bastion of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. That is extremely important. I think that they will want to support Hong Kong, once they have understood the situation there, and vote this bill into law.
Jimmy Sham has made a public statement in which he called on us to keep going with the movement, and not to worry about him. Still less should we start attacking others because of our fear about what happened to him turns to anger.
We want the Civil Human Rights Front to remain an organization that is committed to peaceful forms of protest. We are hoping to run the entire movement in a peaceful manner.
Every application we have made for a protest since Aug. 31 has been rejected, but we keep on applying and appealing in the hope of exhausting every possible channel within the current system. But in the unfortunate event that we are turned down, we don't think the people of Hong Kong will be cowed by these obstacles.
They're not afraid of danger, and they will keep coming out onto the streets. I think that the people of Hong Kong will keep up this level of courage, and will get even braver in future. We hope that the rest of the world will stand with us and stand with Hong Kong.
Reported by Zheng Chongsheng for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.