The pillar, a statue of bodies twisting towards the sky commemorating the victims of Beijing’s bloody 1989 crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square, had been a part of the campus for over two decades. Many saw it as a symbol of Hong Kong’s wider political freedoms – in contrast with mainland China, where the killings have been erased from public memory and remain taboo. Students were seen crying at the empty site on Christmas Eve.
“Now that it’s gone, it’s incredibly hard to distinguish HKU from other universities in the mainland,” a third-year student who wished to remain anonymous said. “As a student it’s heartbreaking. A key piece of what made HKU so iconic is gone.”