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Hong Kong University to remove 'Pillar of Shame' Tiananmen Square sculpture

Published 9th October 2021
The Pillar of Shame, a sculpture located on the University of Hong Kong campus.
Credit: Hsiuwen Liu/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images
Hong Kong University to remove 'Pillar of Shame' Tiananmen Square sculpture
Written by Eric Cheung, CNNHannah Ritchie, CNN
The University of Hong Kong will remove the famous "Pillar of Shame" sculpture memorializing victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre from its campus, a letter written by its legal team said Friday.
The letter came from Mayer Brown LLP -- a US-based international law firm acting on behalf of the university -- and stated the statue had to be removed "before 5 pm on 13 October 2021," or it would be deemed "abandoned" and dealt with in "such a manner" that the university sees fit.
It was addressed to leaders of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, a pro-democracy organization established during the Tiananmen Square protests, which was given the sculpture on permanent loan in 1997.
After several of its senior members were arrested under Hong Kong's national security law, the Alliance announced a decision to disband last month and is now in the liquidation process.
The artist described plans to remove the sculpture as 'crazy and unfair.'
The artist described plans to remove the sculpture as 'crazy and unfair.' Credit: Katherine Cheng/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images
The sculpture, which stands atop a podium in the Haking Wong Building of the university, is part of a series of works by Danish artist Jens Galschiøt created in 1997 to pay tribute to the victims of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, in which the Chinese military crushed protests led by college students in Beijing with deadly force.
The sculpture "serves as a warning and a reminder to people of a shameful event which must never reoccur," according to the description on Galschiøt's website.
Galschiøt gave the sculpture to Albert Ho and Lee Cheuk-yan, both of whom were involved in the Tiananmen Square protests and have served as leaders of the Alliance.
On Friday, Galschiøt told CNN he is considering "legal action" if the statue is removed, as the work is still his property.
"They've given them five days to remove the sculpture, it's not possible. A lot of students are in jail, this is really crazy and unfair. I had an agreement with the university for the permanent exhibition of this sculpture," he said.
"This is a big statement from the Chinese government if they remove it. It's the only monument remembering the Tiananmen crackdown, morally it's a big problem."
This article has been updated to reflect the location of Mayer Brown's headquarters.