A Danish artist has hired lawyers to reclaim the Tiananmen Square Statue in Hong Kong.
After the city’s flagship university ordered its removal, the Danish artist behind a Hong Kong monument commemorating those died at Tiananmen Square has asked a lawyer to acquire his work and transport it overseas.
Jens Galschiot’s eight-metre-high “Pillar of Shame” has stood on the University of Hong Kong’s (HKU) campus since 1997, the year the city was returned to China.
It recalls democracy protestors slain by Chinese troops surrounding Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989, with 50 agonized faces and mutilated bodies placed on top of one another.
As authorities press down on dissent, Hong Kong’s oldest institution ordered it to be deleted by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, citing “legal advice.”
As the deadline approaches, Galshiot told AFP he has engaged a local lawyer and demanded a hearing with the university to discuss the statue’s destiny.
“I hope that my ownership of the sculpture will be honored, and that I will be allowed to take it out of Hong Kong in a safe and orderly manner,” he told AFP via email.
Galschiot stated that he would have preferred the statue to remain in Hong Kong. He advised Hong Kong residents to collect “as many parts of the Pillar of Shame as possible” if it was destroyed by authorities.
“These pieces might be used to construct a metaphorical expression that ‘Empires come and go, but art endures,” the artist explained.
Glaschiot added that he had been in touch with persons in Hong Kong who were scanning the sculpture in 3D to create miniature reproductions.
The Hong Kong Alliance, a now-defunct organization that used to organize the city’s yearly Tiananmen commemoration vigils, was served with HKU’s removal order, which was written by global legal firm Mayer Brown.
“We are continuing obtaining legal counsel and working with connected parties to resolve problems in a legal and reasonable manner,” the University of Hong Kong said.
The university, according to Mayer Brown, has been a longtime client who is being guided to “understand and comply with contemporary law.”
A spokeswoman told AFP, “Our legal advice is not intended as commentary on current or historical events.”
Hong Kong used to be the only area in China where mass commemorations of the Tiananmen Square deaths were tolerated.
However, following massive and often violent democracy rallies two years ago, the city is being reshaped in China’s own authoritarian image.
Authorities have imprisoned or deported a large number of opposition figures. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.