Last memorial for Tiananmen massacre removed in Hong Kong – archyde

A memorial at a Hongkong University that was the most famous public reminder of the Tiananmen Square massacre Chinese The floor was removed early Thursday, obliterating the city’s last public memorial to the bloody 1989 raid.

For some at the University of Hong Kong, the move reflected the erosion of the relative freedoms they enjoyed compared to mainland China.

The eight-meter-high Pillar of Shame, which shows 50 torn and twisted bodies stacked on top of one another, was made by. manufactured Danish Sculptor Jens Galschioet as a symbol for the victims of the military action against pro-democratic demonstrators on Tiananmen Square in Beijing on June 4, 1989.
University students clean the “Pillar of Shame” statue, a memorial to the victims of the Tiananmen Square raid in 1989. (AP)
The “Pillar of Shame” statue, a memorial to the victims of the Tiananmen Square raid in 1989, is on display at the University of Hong Kong. (AP)

“They are sending a signal to the students that the democracy movement (Hong Kong) and freedom of speech in Hong Kong are over,” said Galschioet of the memorial’s removal.

The university called for the sculpture, which had been on campus for more than two decades, to be stored because it could pose “legal risks”.

“Neither party has ever received university approval to display the statue on campus and the university has the right to take appropriate action at any time to deal with it,” said a statement after the removal.

Every year on June 4th, members of the now-defunct student union wash the statue to commemorate the massacre. The city, along with Macau, was the only place on Chinese soil where commemoration of the crackdown was allowed.

The statue of the “Pillar of Shame” has been covered and removed. (AP)

Authorities have banned the annual candlelight vigils on the Tiananmen for two consecutive years and closed a private museum documenting the raid. The group that organized the annual vigil and ran the museum, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, has since disbanded, with some of its key members behind bars.

The dismantling of the sculpture came days after pro-Beijing candidates won a landslide victory in the Hong Kong general election after changing electoral laws that allowed candidates to be screened to ensure they are “patriots” opposed to Beijing are loyal.

Hong Kong guide Carrie Lam traveled to Beijing this week to cover developments in the semi-autonomous Chinese city in 2019.

The “Pillar of Shame” statue is removed from the University of Hong Kong. (AP)

The Pillar of Shame became an issue in October when activists and human rights groups opposed a university request to remove it for “the latest risk assessment and legal advice”. Galschioet offered to bring it back to Denmark unless he was prosecuted under national security law, but has so far failed.

Galschioet said he had been promised a place for the sculpture in a park across from the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC, as well as places in Norway, Canada and Taiwan.

He compared the removal of the sculpture to “driving a tank through Arlington Cemetery,” a burial site for American war veterans.

“Desecration of graves is very frowned upon in China too, but it really is. It’s almost a sacred monument, ”he told the Associated Press. “It’s a sculpture for the deceased.”

The empty space of the “Pillar of Shame” statue. (AP)

Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said his dismissal was another worrying development in Hong Kong.

“The Danish government cannot decide which art is exhibited in other countries’ universities. But for me and the government, the right to speak peacefully – through language, art, or other means – is an absolute fundamental right for all people in Hong Kong, ”he said.

Billy Kwok, a student at Hong Kong University, said the Pillar of Shame had been treated as part of the university by many who studied there.

“It’s the symbol of whether (there is still) … freedom of expression in Hong Kong,” he said.

A woman walks past the site of the Pillar of Shame statue at the University of Hong Kong. (AP)

A university staff member, Morgan Chan, said its removal “doesn’t mean the history will be erased, and removing the pillar doesn’t mean people won’t learn about the story.”

Wang Luyao, a student, had more mixed reactions.

“To me, being from mainland China, my understanding of the Pillar of Shame may not be as deep as that of Hong Kong residents or students, and it is not that important to me,” said Wang.

“For me it’s like a milestone that offers an approach to understanding. It should also be seen as a milestone for the University of Hong Kong. “

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *