Hong Kong activists wash Tiananmen Massacre monument under watchful eye of campus guards

Published (HKT): 2021.05.03 05:56

Hong Kong activists on Sunday conducted the annual washing of the Pillar of Shame at the University of Hong Kong, a monument commemorating the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre.

Representatives from the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China cleaned the pillar, lit candles and observed one minute of silence. The event drew more than 10 university security guards, who filmed the proceedings and took down personal details of journalists.

On Friday, the university cut ties with its student union and said it would assume control over the union’s offices and facilities. The move prompted questions about whether the union-managed Pillar of Shame could remain on campus.

The alliance’s vice chairperson Chow Hang-tung said the university should be able to accommodate a monument that records history and truth.

It was hard to predict if the tradition of cleaning the pillar could continue next year, as the alliance had never been contacted by the university on the matter, she added.

Asked about the alliance’s annual candlelight vigil at Victoria Park, Chow urged the public not to forget the massacre and to continue supporting those who resist tyranny.

“Even if the regime outlaws our candlelight, we will still support [organizing the vigil],” she said.

The alliance was still applying for government permission to host the event, and was planning to go ahead with other events to mark the June 4 anniversary of the massacre.

Chow added that it was “ridiculous” for the university to sever ties with its student union, and said the alliance would stand together with student activists.

Veteran activist Albert Ho, who is also vice chair of the Hong Kong Alliance, said the Pillar of Shame had a deep symbolic meaning and urged the university to respect freedom and history.

The Pillar of Shame was created by Danish artist Jens Galschiøt in 1996, and was moved to the University of Hong Kong campus by students in 1997 right after being exhibited at the annual vigil.

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