The Chinese Communist Party quietly removed the famous “Pillar of Shame” statue erected in honor of the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre from the University of Hong Kong in the middle of the night on Wednesday.
“During the night, CCP officials removed the Pillar of Shame from the University of Hong Kong, which memorialized all those Chinese who were killed by their government during the Tiananmen Square Massacre,” attorney Michael Senger tweeted.
According to the Hong Kong Free Press, workers hung curtains and plastic barriers around the area to restrict the public’s view. Security guards also surrounded the construction zone.
This week, Alvin Lum of CitizenNews reported that the University of Hong Kong had agreed to demolish the statue due to pressure from the Chinese government in Beijing.
“UPDATE: HKU Council has resolved to demolish the Pillar of Shame, @hkcnews_com has learned,” Lum tweeted. “As we are told, HKU has faced direct pressure from Beijing’s local offices.”
Created by Danish sculptor Jens Galschiøt, the “Pillar of Shame” portrays numerous torn and twisted bodies in acknowledgment of the Chinese communist regime’s brutal and deadly crackdown on pro-democracy college protesters at Tiananmen Square in 1989. The statue has been on display at UHK for over two decades.
“I’m totally shocked that Hong Kong University is currently destroying the Pillar of Shame,” Galschiøt said in a statement on Thursday. “It is my private property and the sculpture belongs to me personally… I will claim compensation for any damage to the sculpture.”
“[I]t is a disgrace and an abuse and shows that Hong Kong has become a brutal place without laws and regulations such as protecting the population, the arts and private property,” he continued. “And it’s even more grotesque that they use the Western holiday, Christmas, to carry out the destruction of the artwork.”
According to Galschiøt’s website, the sculpture is part of a series that has been erected in Hong Kong, Mexico and Brazil. They serve as “a warning and a reminder to people of a shameful event which must never reoccur.”
In 1997, Galschiøt gave the statue to the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China as a gift. The Alliance was formed during the Tiananmen Square protests, but after multiple top members were arrested under Hong Kong’s national security law, remaining members decided to dissolve the group last month.