Tiananmen massacre tribute on Hong Kong university campus faces uncertain future

Published (HKT): 2021.05.01 20:35

The decision by the University of Hong Kong to sever ties with its student union has raised questions about the future of a monument dedicated to the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre located on campus.

An annual cleaning of the Pillar of Shame monument is scheduled to take place as usual on Sunday, led by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China.

An Apple Daily reporter observed around 20 visitors at the pillar on Saturday wearing black, including one man whose T-shirt bore the slogan, “People will never forget 35th May,” a cryptic reference to the date of the massacre that occurred on June 4, 1989, when Chinese authorities sent in the People’s Liberation Army to break up student protests, killing thousands in the process.

HKU said on Friday that the university would stop its support of the student union’s activities by ceasing financial management services and the collection of membership fees on behalf of the union. The university also said it would also enforce its management rights over offices and other facilities currently used by the body.

It was not clear whether this was only a reference to the student union building or whether it could cover other areas, such as where the Pillar of Shame is situated.

“It is not acceptable that the HKUSU, an independent student organization, disregards the university’s advice and the overall interests of the HKU community while taking advantage of the services and facilities offered by the university,” the university said.

The public statement was preceded by an email to all students on the same day, in which the university stated that the changes would not affect its support for their extracurricular activities. It also noted that the HKUSU was registered under the Societies Ordinance.

The alliance plans to hold a long-distance race on May 16 as part of its commemorative activities, but the centerpiece event — a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park on June 4 — is set to be banned for the second year in a row on public health grounds.

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