fredag 31. desember 2021

‘Atmosphere of fear’: Hong Kong students lament loss of Tiananmen statues

Sophie Mak, a recent graduate of law and literature, had walked past the fiery orange monument between classes for five years. A month after her graduation ceremony at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), two nights before Christmas, workers erected barricades around the statue. Under the cover of darkness, they cut it down. “It’s an absolute disgrace that HKU removed the Pillar of Shame so callously and so furtively,” Mak says.

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.”