Hong Kong, China:
The Danish artist behind a Hong Kong statue mourning those killed in Tiananmen Square has instructed a lawyer to secure his work and bring it overseas after the city’s premier university abruptly ordered its removal.
The eight-metre (26 ft) high “Pillar of Shame” by Jens Galschiot has sat on the University of Hong Kong (HKU) campus since 1997, the year the city was handed back to China.
It features 50 victim faces and tormented bodies piled on each other and commemorates democracy protesters killed by Chinese soldiers around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Last week Hong Kong’s oldest university ordered its removal by 5 p.m. Wednesday, citing “legal advice” as authorities crack down on dissent.
Galciot told AFP he had hired a local lawyer and requested a hearing with the university on the future of the statue as the deadline passed.
“I hope that my ownership of the sculpture will be respected and that I will be able to move the sculpture out of Hong Kong under orderly conditions and without causing any damage,” he told AFP via email.
Galciot said he would love to see the statue live in Hong Kong. If it was destroyed by the authorities, he said, the people of Hong Kong should collect “as many pieces of the pillar of shame”.
“These pieces can be used to make some symbolic expression that ’empire passes away – but the art remains’,” said the artist.
Glaschiot said he was also in touch with people in Hong Kong who were doing 3D scans of the sculpture to create the miniature version.
act on disagreement
The order to remove HKU was written by global law firm Mayer Brown and addressed to the Hong Kong Alliance, a now disbanded organization that organizes the city’s annual Tiananmen Commemoration.
The University of Hong Kong said it is “still seeking legal advice and working with relevant parties to handle matters in a legal and appropriate manner”.
Mayor Brown said the university was a longtime client who was being helped to “understand and comply with current legislation”.
“Our legal advice is not intended as a comment on current or historical events,” a spokesman told AFP.
Hong Kong used to be a place in China where mass remembrance of the Tiananmen dead was still tolerated.
But the city is being reshaped into China’s own authoritarian image in protest of the vast and often violent democracy that took place two years ago.
Scores of protestors are believed to have been imprisoned or fled abroad and officials have embarked on a mission to rewrite history and make the city more “patriotic”.
Several leaders of the coalition have been arrested over the past year and the last two vigils have been banned by the authorities citing the coronavirus.
Officials also warned that persuading Tiananmen could sabotage a new national security law that Beijing imposed on the city last year.
A museum run by the Coalition was also raided and closed, with its exhibits taken away in a police van.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)