The Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg has written imprisoned Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong a letter, in an effort to draw attention to the detention of the protest leader in the former British colony.
Thunberg is seeking to deliver the message to Wong through a South Korean democracy advocate, Lee Dae-seon, who shared the handwritten letter with VICE World News exclusively on Tuesday.
“You are a big hero, we are with you always,” the letter reads. “Stay strong and never give up. You are never alone. I really hope that we will be able to meet one day.”
In May, Wong, 25, was sentenced to 10 months in prison by a Hong Kong court for taking part in an unauthorized protest in 2020. At the time of the sentencing, Wong was already in prison for other protest-related convictions, and he faces a further subversion charge under a new national security law imposed by China on the semi-autonomous city that has led to the arrest or detention of the bulk of the territory’s opposition leaders.
Beijing’s tightening grip on Hong Kong means that, for the first time since the city returned to Chinese rule in 1997, no major pro-democracy politicians are vying for a seat in a legislative election next month.
Thunberg, 18, is no stranger to helping Wong and other Hong Kong activists amplify their voices. She has shared Wong’s tweets multiple times and expressed support for him.
Last year, she joined a social media campaign calling for the release of 12 Hong Kong activists captured by mainland authorities while trying to flee Hong Kong by boat.
Lee, the Korean activist, invited Thunberg to write the letter in central Stockholm, Sweden on Friday, ahead of a protest that day demanding more action by leaders to address the climate crisis.
The South Korean activist Lee Dae-seon (L) and the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. Photo Courtesy of International Next Kim Dae Jung Foundation
Lee, 29, is part of a generation of youth, armed with social media and unbounded by borders, who take it upon themselves to challenge the establishment on a wide range of social issues.
Lee, who lives in Seoul, felt connected to the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong after he studied abroad in Taiwan, where he was introduced to Hong Kong’s political activists by his teacher Wang Dan, one of the student leaders of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
Since then, Lee has helped connect Asian activists including those from Hong Kong, Thailand, and Myanmar with their South Korean counterparts, in part by translating their statements. Lee said he has known Wong since they met in Taiwan in 2016.
Last year, Lee laid flowers in commemoration of victims of South Korea’s crackdown on the 1980 Gwangju democracy uprising on the behalf of Wong and another Hong Kong activist, Nathan Law, an example of a budding transnational entente in Asia sometimes known as the Milk Tea Alliance.
“I thought Thunberg’s letter could mean the most for Wong. That’s why I wanted to send him her letter,” Lee told VICE World News.
Lee, who is currently in Stockholm, Sweden, said he hoped the letter would give Wong “courage” and that Thunberg hoped it would be delivered before Christmas.
The trial on Wong’s subversion charge, which carries the maximum sentence of life imprisonment, will start in March.
Thunberg’s letter to Wong reads:
To Joshua Wong,
Merry Christmas and happy holidays!
You are a big hero, we are with you always. Stay strong and never give up. You are never alone. I really hope that we will be able to meet one day. Keep fighting and take care of yourself. Sending love, support, and strength from Sweden.
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