The University of Hong Kong will soon be carrying out the removal of the Tiananmen Square massacre statue. The statue memorializes the lives of protestors killed in the 1989 China crackdown.
Hong Kong University: All about the pillar of shame
The Pillar of Shame statue was made in remembrance of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. It took place on June 4, 1989. It is also called the ‘June 4 incident’ by the Chinese government. The act was in support of the 1997’s Patriotic Democratic Movements of China. It also marks how the People’s Liberation Army open-fired on student protestors. The students were protesting since April 1989 against inflation, corruption, unemployment, and more. It shows 50 bodies with anguish-filled faces, piled up as the Chinese troops open fire. The statue is 8 meters tall and placed inside Hong Kong University’s Haking Wong Building since 1997.
The statue, gifted to the now-disbanded Hong Kong Alliance by Jens Galschiøt, a sculptor. It is “a series of sculptures which mark grave abuses against humanity. The sculptures remind people of a shameful event that must never recur. The first sculpture marks the Chinese authorities’ bloody crackdown on peaceful protesters at Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989. Hundreds, if not thousands of unarmed student-protesters and civilians were killed,” according to the website. In 2009, Galschiøt was invited by the Alliance for the 20th anniversary of the massacre. However, he was denied entry.
Why is Hong Kong University removing the statue?
With the new National Security Law, the clampdown on dissent and freedom in Hong Kong has been more than ever. The Chinese government is coming down heavy on the dissenters. Especially since the new law came to effect. The university sent a notice to the Alliance and Richard Tsoi. Tsoi was a former member of the committee. The notice states that the statue must be “removed from the University’s premises no later than 5:00 pm on 13 October 2021”. Additionally, the University states that it was for ‘risk management. However, Galschiøt reported that he, the owner of the statue has not received any order from the University.
Additionally, the University cut all ties with its student union due to ‘legal risks’ due to national security. Moreover, the disbanded Alliance is denied the chance of holding a vigil for the past two years due to COVID-19 measures. However, several believe that the removal of the statue is another way to silence people. “As a space with free speech and academic freedom, the University of Hong Kong has the social responsibility and mission to preserve the Pillar of Shame,” said Tsoi.