Two other universities in Hong Kong today removed public monuments for the 1989 Tiananmen protests in Beijing, after the demolition of a statue erected in memory of the victims of repression at another university this week.
The removal of monuments from the University of China and Lingnan University to the World Financial Center took place as authorities took stricter measures under a national security law imposed by China.
Human rights activists say the law is being used to quell civil society, imprison pro-democracy activists and undermine basic freedoms, but authorities say security laws have restored stability following mass protests. 2019.
A @lingnanuni spokesperson said they “recently reviewed & assessed items on campus that may pose legal and safety risks to the University community. In the best interest of the University, items in question have been cleared, or removed & stored appropriately.” pic.twitter.com/1mJS75VyjA
– Hong Kong Free Press HKFP (@hkfp) December 24, 2021
She represented the “Goddess of Democracy”
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 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 Wyming, 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.
The removal of these iconic monuments from three universities, one after the other, means that there are almost no Tiananmen monuments left in public view in Hong Kong.