China ‘Takes Down’ Tiananmen Square Massacre Memorial Statue

A statue honoring protesters killed in Tiananmen Square by the Chinese government in 1989 has been removed from a Hong Kong university campus where it had stood for more than two decades.

The work, titled “Pillar of Shame,” was one of the last public memorials allowed by the Chinese Communist Party in the former British colony. The statue depicts suffering human victims of government oppression.

The statue was dedicated as a symbol of the human rights freedoms promised to the people of Hong Kong when it was returned to China’s control in 1997. For many years, the city has held memorials to commemorate the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

The governing council of the University of Hong Kong issued a statement on Thursday saying that the official decision to remove the statue was made on Wednesday. The committee noted that the ruling was based on “external legal advice” and was the best risk assessment decision for the school. The statue was directed to be placed in storage as the university will continue to seek legal advice for appropriate “follow-up actions.”

Immediately after the council’s decision, security guards placed barricades around the 26-foot tall copper statue. A team of workers draped the site with plastic sheeting and dozens of security personnel guarding the area.

Several hours later, workers carried away the top portion of the statue to be loaded into a shipping container with a winch. After the entire sculpture was removed, a group of university workers placed pots of Christmas Poinsettias around the barricades blocking the site where the statue stood.

Jens Galschiøt, the Danish artist who created the statue, said that he was “totally shocked” by the removal of the art and said that he would claim compensation for any damage to his work. He said that the statue is “worth at least $1.4 million.” Galschiøt said he “had previously offered to take it to Denmark” if it was to be removed, and he had “requested assurances” that he would not be arrested if he traveled to Hong Kong to oversee the delicate process of safely removing the structure.

The university said that no permission had ever been granted to place the statue on its campus, and it posed “potential safety issues.”