Hong Kong university removes Tiananmen memorial

Beijing, Dec 23 (EFE).- A Hong Kong university sculpture, widely known as the Pillar of Shame to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, was removed from the campus in a pre-dawn demolition drive on Thursday.

The university said its governing council decided to remove the 8-meter-high sculpture because it posed legal and safety risks.

“The decision on the aged statue was based on external legal advice and risk assessment for the best interest of the university,” the varsity said in a statement.

“No party has ever obtained any approval from the university to display the statue on campus, and the university has the right to take appropriate actions to handle it at any time.”

The statement said the university authorities were “very concerned” about the potential safety issues from the monument.

“Latest legal advice given to the university cautioned that the continued display of the statue would pose legal risks to the university based on the crimes ordinance enacted under the Hong Kong colonial government.”

The governing council said the university should seek legal advice on an appropriate follow-up action after storing the sculpture.

The statue was erected on the campus in 1997, the year Hong Kong ceased to be under British control.

It was the work of the Danish sculptor, Jens Galschiøt.

Galschiøt said he was “totally shocked” over the destruction of the Pillar of Shame.

“It is completely unreasonable and a self-immolation against private property in Hong Kong,” he tweeted.

The artist said he had tried to contact Hong Kong authorities to inform them the sculpture belonged to him.

He warned them that he would seek compensation for any damage suffered.

Galschiøt said he offered to travel to Hong Kong with a specialized team to remove the statue but to no avail.

The Chinese army allegedly committed the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1989, as millions demonstrated in downtown Beijing.

Although the capital was the heart of the rebellion, dozens of Chinese cities held protests more than three decades ago.

Soldiers and tanks of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army violently forced their way to the outskirts of Tiananmen, where hundreds of thousands of university students and workers had demonstrated for several weeks against corruption and democratic rights.

The death toll is still unknown, ranging from a few hundred to several thousand, depending on the source.

The monument removal came days after Hong Kong held its first parliamentary election under the new Chinese law that tightened the Beijing grip on the autonomous region.

The election reforms barred the pro-democratic opposition leaders from contesting and ensured that only pro-Beijing politicians occupied the parliament seats.

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