A monument at a Hong Kong university that commemorates the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre was removed by workers early Thursday over the objections of its creator from Denmark.
The 8-metre tall Pillar of Shame, which depicts 50 torn and twisted bodies piled on top of each other, was made by Danish sculptor Jens Galschiøt to symbolise the lives lost during the bloody military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.
The Pillar of Shame monument
The Pillar of Shame monument became an issue in October, with the university demanding that it be removed, even as activists and rights groups protested. Galschiøt offered to take it back to Denmark provided he was given legal immunity that he won’t be persecuted under Hong Kong’s national security law.
“We don’t know exactly what happened, but I fear they destroy it,” the Danish sculptor Galschiøt said. “This is my sculpture, and it is my property.”
Galschiøt said that he would sue the university if necessary to protect the sculpture.
Workers barricaded the monument at the University of Hong Kong late Wednesday night. Drilling sounds and loud clanging could be heard coming from the boarded-up site, which was patrolled by guards.
A lot has changed in 32 years since the Tiananmen Square massacre
The dismantling of the sculpture came days after pro-Beijing candidates scored a landslide victory in the Hong Kong legislative elections after amendments in election laws allowed the vetting of all candidates to ensure that they are “patriots” loyal to Beijing.
The removal also happened in the same week that Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam travelled to Beijing to report on developments in the semi-autonomous Chinese city, where authorities have silenced dissent following the implementation of a sweeping national security law that appeared to target much of the pro-democracy movement following mass protests in 2019.