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Dismantled & Disbanded!

The famous sculpture, called the Pillar of Shame, was there in the campus of the University of Hong Kong for more than two decades. The 26ft-tall sculpture made of bronze, copper and concrete – showing intertwined bodies with hollowed eyes and open mouths – stood as a memorial to the victims of the June 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, in which the Chinese Armed Forces crushed protests led by college students in Beijing, exhibiting brutal force. Danish artist Jens Galschiot had created the sculpture in 1997, as a symbol of an anguished mass of humanity to pay a rich tribute to the victims of the crackdown in Tiananmen Square. The concerned authorities in Hong Kong dismantled it in the dead of night on December 22, 2021. With this, Hong Kong lost a symbol of its freedom!

The Pillar of Shame

It was seen that the government officials suddenly covered the sculpture by a yellow opaque barrier, which is frequently being used in construction work sites, at midnight. Later, students heard the sound of something breaking. Although the officials did not allow students to gather at the site, the local media reported that they broke the sculpture into two pieces, wrapped in a cover, mounted it on a crane, and took it away from the campus premises. Visitors discovered that the place of the sculpture was empty the next morning. Some of the students could not hold back their tears. Meanwhile, the University Council informed the press that the sculpture would be kept in a warehouse.

Midnight action

At the base of the sculpture, Galschiot had etched the following words: “The old cannot kill the young forever.” He had, once, mentioned that these sculptures would remind people of a shameful event that should never happen again. Seeing the consequences of his creation, he tweeted: “The Pillar of Shame is getting demolished right now in Hong Kong. The sculpture has been covered and is heavily guarded so that no students can document what is going on. This is happening in the middle of the night in Hong Kong. I’m shocked.” Galschioet stressed that he would pursue legal action, if necessary, to get his creation back. However, authorities are of the opinion that the sculpture was not installed with any official permission. Hence, they have the right to take all sorts of action.

It may be noted that Tiananmen Day has been commemorated only in Hong Kong for the past three decades, as far as Mainland China is concerned. The event was seen as one of the criteria for Hong Kong’s sovereignty after its accession to China. The Police did not allow students to take out procession on Tiananmen Day for the last two years because of COVID-19 Pandemic. The Police also started arresting Pro-Democracy protesters in Hong Kong since the National Security Act came into force in 2020. The Tiananmen Memorial Museum has already been closed.

Experts have expressed serious concern over the removal of the Pillar of Shame from the University campus, saying that it is the final blow to Hong Kong’s independence. They believe that the removal is testament to the ruling Communist Party’s efforts to erase the bloody events of that day from the public consciousness. Meanwhile, members of the Democratic Artists Association have joined hands to create a 3D model of the Pillar, as they want the sculpture to secure its place in the human minds.

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