Until now, Hong Kong was the only place in China where you could remember the massacre in Tiananmen Square, with which the Communist Party crushed the democracy protests that rocked Beijing in the spring of 1989. But the suppression of rights in the former British colony and its homogenization with the rest of the Chinese territory continue unstoppable and the regime now intends to erase such an unfortunate memory as it has already done on the continent, where the tiananmen massacre it is a taboo subject. In addition to banning the June 4 vigils for the massacre for the past two years, in his attempt to rewrite history he has just removed the monuments that honored the memory of Tiananmen
in three educational centers in Hong Kong.
For starters, the University of Hong Kong on Thursday dismantled the “Pillar of Shame,” an eight-meter sculpture by Danish artist Jens Galschiot who had been on campus for 24 years. Justifying its decision to “external legal councils” due to its lack of official permission and the “structural risks” of the facility, the governing council ordered its withdrawal two months ago. Ignoring the author, who demanded the return of his work, the workers disassembled it at dawn and placed it in a red container that they deposited in a storage area with restricted access.
On Friday, and also under the cover of night, the Chinese University of Hong Kong did the same with the “Goddess of democracy.” At more than six meters, it is a reproduction of the even larger plaster statue that the students erected in Tiananmen Square in 1989 in front of the portrait of Mao Zedong, as a symbol of their defense of individual freedom in the face of totalitarianism. “We never authorize their placement on campus and no organization has taken charge of their maintenance,” alleged the University in a statement.
Among other things, because the two groups in charge of caring for the statue, the student union and the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic and Democratic Movements, dissolved months ago out of fear of the draconian national security law imposed by the Chinese regime. , which criminalizes practically all political opposition.
“Delete the true story”
The same fate has also come to the fore at Lignan University, depicting the Chinese Army’s repression against the Tiananmen protesters. In addition to showing the “Goddess of Democracy,” it included those killed by bullets dragged by their companions and to the “Tank Man”, the anonymous individual who interposed before the advance of the military armor. A spokesman for the center assured that “in accordance with the interests of the university, the object in question has been disassembled and stored appropriately.”
These two works were created by Chen Weiming, a Chinese-born sculptor of New Zealand nationality who resides in the United States. After the Hong Kong authorities denied him entry in 2010 to participate in the Tiananmen vigil, donated them to their organizers and they were displayed in various venues before the students installed them at both universities with the consent of the administration. “Since the Chinese communists implemented the national security law in Hong Kong, they have eradicated freedom of the press, assembly and expression,” the artist denounced in statements to Reuters. In his opinion, “they want to eliminate the real story of the brutal repression (…), they will not allow other different points of view to continue to exist in Hong Kong”.
A censored memory
Every June 4 since 1989, the people of Hong Kong gather to honor the memory of the hundreds of people killed during the Tiananmen protests, an episode covered by a tight censorship in the rest of the Chinese territory. Local authorities first banned this call in 2020, citing the risk to public health posed by the pandemic, but dozens of thousands of attendees defied the order. In 2021 they also did not authorize the vigil and many Hong Kongers once again walked the streets carrying candles or lighting the flashlights of their mobile phones.
This controversial decision is part of an offensive by the Chinese Communist Party to end the autonomy of Hong Kong, based on the principle of “one country, two systems” that was agreed with the United Kingdom for the return in 1997 and should be in force at the time. less 50 years. But, after the violent revolt of 2019 demanding full democracy and universal suffrage, Beijing imposed the national security law in June last year, which has served to tie up the opposition, civil society and the media. This was seen in the recent elections to the local Parliament, in which the main candidates on the Democratic front were vetoed. After annulling the opposition for the future, the Chinese regime erased the memory of Tiananmen from the past to continue rewriting history.