Hong Kong’s oldest university removed on Dec. 23 a famous statue commemorating pro-democracy protesters in the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
In an overnight operation, the University of Hong Kong (HKU) dismantled one of the territory’s few remaining public memorials of the bloody crackdown in Beijing and had stood at the university campus since 1997, when the former British colony was handed back to China.
The eight-meter (26 feet) high copper statue called “Pillar of Shame” features twisted bodies and anguished faces of victims piled on one another.
Construction workers worked behind floor-to-ceiling sheets and plastic barriers to remove the statue, according to reports.
Security guards also tried to stop media outlets from filming the operation, according to AFP News.
In a statement, HKU confirmed that the statue had been removed and placed in storage.
“The decision on the aged statue was based on external legal advice and risk assessment for the best interest of the University,” HKU stated.
“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 University is also very concerned about the potential safety issues resulting from the fragile statue,” HKU further stated.
HKU officials ordered the removal of the statue in October.
Jens Galschiot, the Danish sculptor of the statue, said on Twitter that he was “totally shocked” by the removal.
“It is completely unreasonable and a self-immolation against private property in Hong Kong,” Galschiot said.
Galschiot also said that he would consider suing the authorities, calling it “not fair.”
Galschiot further said that he had offered to take the statue to Denmark, but HKU officials never contacted him or notified him of the removal.
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