Wednesday, January 26, 2022

More Tiananmen Square monuments removed from Hong Kong universities after Pillar of Shame demolished

Two more Hong Kong universities have removed public monuments to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and the massacre in Beijing, a day before the famous Pillar of Shame memorial was removed.

Just before dawn, the Chinese University of Hong Kong removed the 6.4-metre-tall bronze statue of democracy.

The university said in a statement that the “unauthorized statue” had been removed.

“After an internal assessment and, as the manager of the university campus, CUHK has removed the statue,” it read.

The Hong Kong statue was modeled on a statue built in 1989 by Chinese students in Tiananmen Square as a symbol of the pursuit of freedom and democracy under Communist Party rule.

During China’s deadly military crackdown on protests in 1989, the original statue was destroyed.

‘Heartbroken and shocked’

A former Chinese university student and district councilor said he was “heartbroken and shocked” by the removal of the statue.

“The statue represents the open environment of the school. It is a symbol of academic freedom. This makes people doubt whether the school can still ensure that the space is vacant and people can speak freely,” he said.

Unlike mainland China, where Chinese authorities banned any commemoration or public commemoration of the June 4 massacre, Hong Kong was previously the only place on Chinese soil where such a commemoration was permitted.

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University claims ‘legal and security risk’

Hong Kong’s Lingnan University also took down a Tiananmen Massacre wall relief sculpture, including a depiction of the goddess of democracy.

The bas-reliefs included images of a line of tanks stopping in front of a lone defender known as the “Tank Man”, and the victims being shot by Chinese soldiers.

Photos of the Lingnan site after removal show a bare wall and debris on the ground.

Artist Chen Weiming – who created both the statue and the wall relief – said he would sue universities if any damage was done to his works.

A huge, red picture of the goddess of democracy was also painted in gray paint in the main hall of the Lingnan University Student Union.

Lingnan University said in an email that the items were “cleaned up, or removed and stored appropriately”, posing a “legal and security risk”.

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Blame the National Security Act

Earlier, the University of Hong Kong removed and removed an 8-metre-tall Shem statue from its campus site, which, for more than two decades, commemorates the pro-democracy protesters killed during China’s Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989 .

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‘Pillar of Shame’ statue removed from Hong Kong University.

The artist, Mr. Chen, said, “Since the Chinese communists imposed national security legislation in Hong Kong, they have abolished freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and expression.”

“They want to remove the real history of brutal action … they will not allow any different approach to continue in Hong Kong.”

When asked whether Hong Kong or Chinese authorities had instructed the three universities to remove these Tiananmen monuments, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam’s office did not immediately respond.

Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997 and was promised broad autonomy and independence by China under the so-called “one country, two systems” arrangement.

Human rights activists say it is being used to suppress civil society, jail campaigners of democracy, and curtail basic freedoms, say human rights activists.

Chinese and Hong Kong officials say security laws have restored order and stability after mass protests in 2019, and fundamental rights and freedoms are still respected.

Reuters

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