A few days ago, I added my signature to a letter from international public figures addressed to the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, in support of your demands: an independent inquiry into police brutality, a timetable for democratic political reform, leading to universal suffrage in elections for the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive, and the release of all those unjustly detained.
Now I would like to address my protesting friends in Hong Kong. I do not feel that I can tell you what to do… Every country has its own unique way to democracy. I only want to share my deep sympathy and solidarity, and some of my thoughts when looking back on my own personal experience in Slovakia and my professional work following pro-democratic changes and supporting reforms in many countries.
Dear friends, I admire your love for freedom that has endowed you with enormous courage! I admire and pray for all those beaten up, detained and treated with violence, both physical and psychological. I suffer with you and understand—to a certain extent—how you feel.
I was born in a communist country which has trodden a long path to democracy since 1989. Although I myself never experienced a similar situation to yours, I grew up in a dissident family. I was a teenager in 1989 when, in the then-Czechoslovakia and many other European communist states, we took to the streets and toppled Communist rule. The risk of repression was there, at least in the first days, but there was no violence of the kind now suffered by Hong Kong. We knew that our country would change and that we would be the masters of our own future.