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Hong Kong university dismantles ‘Pillar of Shame’ massacre memorial after 24 years — Radio Free Asia

Security guards at the University of Hong Kong put the area around the Column of Shame on lockdown Thursday, obscuring the view of the memorial to the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre and preventing anyone from approaching the area, as its builder said it had been demolished. .

The move comes after university authorities said the statue was removed “based on external legal advice and risk assessment in the interest of the university”.

It appears to have been removed and disassembled in the early hours of Thursday, while the students were on recess.

Danish sculptor Jens Galchiot, who created the memorial, said he was “shocked” that authorities were removing it.

“The pillar of shame is now being demolished in Hong Kong,” Galchiot said on his Twitter account. “The statue is covered and heavily guarded so that no student can document what is going on. This is happening in the middle of the night in Hong Kong.”

Galchiot, who previously said he was receiving legal advice about the university’s disposition of his personal property, also sent a press release from the Hong Kong Commission in Norway condemning the move.

“This action is the latest in a series of attempts by the Hong Kong authorities to erase the public memory of the massacre in Hong Kong,” the statement said, referring to the forced closure of a museum commemorating the student-led protest movement of 1989, and the bloody assault on unarmed civilians by the military. People’s Liberation that put an end to it.

“The Hong Kong Committee of Norway condemns the attempts of the authorities … to falsify the story of a peaceful uprising in support of democracy and freedom in China,” she added.

Former pro-democracy MP Nathan Law tweeted: “#PillarOfShame removed, memory lives on. We must remember what happened on June 4, 1989. #TiananmenMassacre”

The Pillar of Shame was first unveiled at a now-banned candlelight vigil to commemorate the victims in Victoria Park on June 4, 1997, weeks before the city was returned to China.

It has been at the University of Hong Kong since 1998, and students clean and repaint it to mark the anniversary of the massacre every year.

The university said in its statement that no group had obtained approval to display it on campus.

She added that “the latest legal advice given to the university warned that the continued display of the statue would pose legal risks to the university based on the Crimes Act issued under the colonial government of Hong Kong,” adding that the statue “will be stored.” . “

The statue was placed on the campus by the now-dissolved Hong Kong Alliance in Support of National Democratic Movements in China, on loan from Galschiøt.

The 32-year-old alliance now faces charges of acting as an agent of a foreign power, with leaders Zhao Hang-tung, Albert Ho, and Lee Cheok Yan arrested on suspicion of “inciting the subversion of state power”. Freezing of assets.

The Pillar of Shame memorial to the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing is displayed at the University of Hong Kong in this May 2021 photo. AFP

Many groups disintegrate

The group is the latest in a series of civil society organizations that have been dissolved following an investigation by the National Security Police under the National Security Act that took effect on July 1, 2020.

Annual vigils in Tiananmen hosted by the coalition on June 4 have often drawn more than 100,000 people, but gatherings have been banned since 2020, as authorities cited coronavirus restrictions.

China’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office has accused the organization of inciting hostility and hatred against the Chinese Communist Party and the central government.

Beijing imposed a strict national security law on Hong Kong from July 1, 2020, leading to an ongoing crackdown on political dissent and public dissent.

The law forms part of Beijing’s claim that recent waves of popular protest for greater democracy and against the erosion of promised freedoms in Hong Kong have been instigated by hostile foreign powers bent on undermining Chinese Communist Party rule and destroying social stability in Hong Kong.

Jimmy Lai and many other top journalists are now defunct Apple Daily He faces charges of “collusion with foreign forces” under the law, after the newspaper called in its editorials for sanctions against Chinese and Hong Kong officials.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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