By Alun John and Edmond Ng
HONG KONG (Reuters) – A leading Hong Kong university has fenced a statue on its campus that, for more than two decades, commemorates pro-democracy protesters killed in China’s Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, have Reuters witnesses said.
Late Wednesday night, security officers from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) fenced off the eight-meter-high, two-ton copper sculpture called the “Pillar of Shame” which commemorates those killed by Chinese authorities more than three decades ago.
The statue is one of the few remaining public monuments in the former British colony to remember the bloody crackdown which is a taboo subject in mainland China, where it cannot be commemorated publicly.
A crane and at least one shipping container were brought to the campus as construction workers moved through the area, according to two Reuters reporters at the scene just after midnight local time. Loud construction noise could be heard, they said.
Local media outlet Citizen News reported that the university council voted to demolish the Pillar of Shame.
Several months ago, the university sent a legal letter to the guardians of the statue requesting its removal.
Authorities have cracked down in Hong Kong under a Chinese-imposed national security law that is used to suppress civil society, jail democracy activists, and restrict basic freedoms, including free speech.
The university’s public affairs office gave no immediate response to a Reuters request for comment.
(Additional reporting by Jessie Pang and Eduardo Baptista; Writing by James Pomfret; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)