Public monuments for 1989 Tiananmen protests in Beijing were expelled from two other universities in Hong Kong on Friday, after the demolition of a statue erected in memory of the victims of repression, at another university this week.
Removal of monuments from Chinese University and Lingnan University at the World Financial Center took place as authorities received stricter measures under a national security law imposed by China.
Human rights activists they say that the law it is used for suppress civil society, to imprison the supporters of democracy and to crush the basic freedoms, but the principles they say that security laws have restored stability after the mass demonstrations of 2019.
Shortly before dawn, a 6.4-meter-tall bronze statue representing the “Goddess of Democracy” holding a flame in her hand was removed from a public square at the Chinese University.
The university said in a statement that “the unlicensed statue” was removed after an “internal evaluation”.
The creator of the sculpture, which has been on campus for more than a decade, was inspired by a ten-meter-tall plaster and foam statue erected by students in Tiananmen Square to symbolize their determination to pursue freedom and democracy under China government.
A group of about 20 students gathered to protest the energy of their university, handing out flyers on June 4 as well as posters of missing persons of the goddess of democracy with the words: “Have you seen her?”. Another said, “Bring it back.”
Others laid chrysanthemums, which in Chinese tradition symbolize mourning, lit candles where the statue was located and sang “Bloodstained Glory” in memory of the hundreds, possibly thousands, of people killed in 1989.
Unlike mainland China, where authorities ban any public demonstrations on June 4, Hong Kong was previously the only place on Chinese soil where such demonstrations were allowed.
For the past two years, however, police, citing dangers from COVID-19, have banned an annual candlelight vigil involving tens of thousands of people.
Also before dawn today, on Christmas Eve, Lingnan University in Hong Kong unveiled a sculpture on the wall for Tiananmen Square depicting the “View of the Republic” and a series of tanks in front of a lone protester – as well as victims shot by Chinese soldiers.
Asked by Reuters if Hong Kong authorities had instructed all three universities to remove the monuments to Tiananmen, the office of Hong Kong leader Kari Lam said “no comment”.
The sculptor of the two works, Chen Weming, told Reuters that he would file a lawsuit against the universities if his works suffered any damage.
In the main hall of the student union at Lingnan University, a striking red painting of the Goddess of Democracy was also covered in gray paint.
The students responded by sticking a piece of paper with the word “shame” on the covered image, but he was quickly removed by security guards.
In an email to Reuters, Lingnan University said items that could pose a “legal and safety hazard” were “properly cleaned or removed and stored”.
When Hong Kong returned from British rule in China in 1997, it received promises of broad autonomy and freedoms from China under the “one country, two systems” arrangement.
Earlier this week, the University of Hong Kong dismantled and removed an eight-meter-high “pillar of shame” for the victims of the Tiananmen crackdown.
Following the removal of these iconic monuments from three universities, few Tiananmen monuments remain in public view in Hong Kong.
Sources: Reuters, ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ