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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Hong Kong: University orders Tiananmen statue’s removal


The University of Hong Kong has said a statue commemorating the Tiananmen Square massacre must be removed.

The Pillar of Shame, which depicts dozens of torn and twisted bodies, was at the forefront of the city’s vigils commemorating the 1989 crackdown.

The university stated that the decision was “based on the most recent risk assessment and legal advice,” but did not elaborate.

Beijing has recently moved to silence Hong Kong’s opposition to its rule.

Tiananmen Square is still heavily censored in modern China. The anniversary was celebrated in Hong Kong on an annual basis until it was banned by authorities in 2020, citing Covid measures.

Earlier this year, nine pro-democracy activists were sentenced to between six and 10 months in prison for taking part in the banned 2020 vigil.

The statue has been at the forefront of annual Tiananmen vigils

Pillar of Shame, a sculpture by Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot, has been on display at the university’s campus for the past 24 years.

However, the university wrote a letter to the Hong Kong Alliance, a now-defunct group that organised an annual vigil, requesting that the piece be removed by October 13th.

It went on to say that if the statue was not removed from campus, it would be considered “abandoned.”

Mr Galschiot told the Hong Kong Free Press that the statue, which was given as a gift to the alliance, is “difficult to remove.”

“It is really not fair to remove it in a week while it’s been there for 24 years,” he said, adding that it could be damaged if it is moved too quickly.

What happened in Tiananmen Square?

Tiananmen Square in Beijing became the focal point for large-scale protests calling for reform and democracy in 1989.

Demonstrators had been camped out in the square for weeks, but on June 3rd, the military moved in and opened fire.

China has only stated that 200 civilians and security personnel were killed, but no official death toll has been released. According to witnesses and foreign journalists, the number could be as high as 3,000.

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