Hong Kong universities remove more monuments marking Tiananmenon December 24, 2021 at 4:21 am

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It comes a day after a famous statue marking the 1989 massacre was removed from a university.

A replica of the "Goddess of Democracy" statue is seen on the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong

Image source, Getty Images

Two more Hong Kong universities have taken down monuments commemorating the Tiananmen massacre.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) tore down a Goddess of Democracy statue, while Lingnan University removed a relief sculpture.

It comes a day after Hong Kong University removed a famous statue marking the same event.

The monuments’ removal comes as Beijing has increasingly been cracking down on political dissent in Hong Kong.

The Goddess of Democracy statue was modelled after the original statue erected by Chinese students in 1989 and paraded in Tiananmen Square just before the crackdown.

In 1989, Beijing’s Tiananmen Square became the focus for demonstrations calling for greater political freedoms. Thousands of people camped for weeks in the square, but in June the military moved in and troops opened fire.

The Chinese government says 200 civilians and several dozen security personnel died. Other estimates have ranged from hundreds to as many as 10,000.

CUHK did not directly confirm the statue’s removal, but added that an “unauthorised statue” had been removed.

The site at Chinese University of Hong Kong where the Goddess of Democracy used to stand

Image source, Chinese University Student Press

“The University never authorised the display of the statue on its campus, and no organisation has claimed responsibility for its maintenance and management,” CUHK said in a statement on Friday.

At Lingnan University, where the relief sculpture had been removed, the school said it had also recently “reviewed and assessed items on campus that may pose legal and safety risks” and “removed [these]…. in the best interest of the University”.

Tiananmen wall relief in Lingnan University

Image source, Lingnan University Students’ Union Press Bureau

A spray painting of what appeared to be the Goddess of Democracy was also painted over at Lingnan University.

Hong Kong used to be one of few places in China that allowed public commemoration of the events surrounding June 4, 1989, which remains a highly sensitive topic in mainland China.

But in 2020, Hong Kong authorities banned the vigil for the first time in 30 years, citing Covid restrictions. Activists accused officials of bowing to pressure from Beijing to muzzle pro-democracy expression.

Tens of thousands of people defied the ban to attend the vigil that night, knocking down barricades that had been erected around Hong Kong’s Victoria Park.

In October, nine pro-democracy Hong Kong activists were sentenced to between six and 10 months in prison for taking part in the vigil.

Earlier this month, media tycoon Jimmy Lai also received 13 months in prison for participating in the same vigil.

Beijing introduced a strict national security law in Hong Kong last year that criminalises secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.

Activists say the law is being used to suppress civil society, jail democracy campaigners and curb basic freedoms.

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