The artist who created the Tiananmen Massacre statue that has stood on the University of Hong Kong’s (HKU) campus for over two decades has told HKFP that he is seeking a lawyer after the institution ordered its removal by Wednesday.

“I would argue that it is still me who owns the sculpture and that it is permanently on loan for exhibition in Hong Kong,” Danish sculptor Jens Galschiøt told HKFP.

pillar of shame 2021 Tiananmen Massacre
Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China and its liquidators Richard Tsoi and Elizabeth Tang said they received a letter from US law firm Mayer Brown last Thursday, asking the defunct group to remove the Pillar of Shame.

When asked by HKFP about the ownership issue, HKU declined to comment on Monday, though Tsoi said he respected Galschiøt’s view.

pillar of shame 2020 jens (11)
Photo: May James/HKFP.

He added that they had not yet made a decision about removing it: “We need to wait for HKU’s response to [our] letter dated 8 October 2021 before we make any decision.”

The eight-metre tall harrowing monument to those killed by the military during the crackdown has stood on the campus for 24 years.

See also: The Pillar of Shame: History of the harrowing tribute to the Tiananmen victims

The Tiananmen massacre occurred on June 4, 1989, ending months of student-led demonstrations in China. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people died when the People’s Liberation Army was deployed to crack down on protesters in Beijing.

Double typhoons

Hong Kong experienced the longest-ever T8 storm signal on Saturday, and is set to see another typhoon skirt the city on Tuesday.

pillar of shame 2020 jens (11)
Photo: May James/HKFP.

“It will take a long time to move the sculpture,” Galschiøt said of the two-ton statue. “It is an extremely valuable piece of art, which after 24 years probably is a bit frail. Therefore there is a great possibility that the work of art will suffer irreparable damage if handled by any others than experts in handling art,” he added in a statement on Saturday. He said HKU “risks incurring a claim of compensation.”

HKFP has asked HKU and Mayer Brown if the deadline will be extended.

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Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.