The artist who created Hong Kong’s Pillar of Shame, which commemorates victims of the Tiananmen Massacre but faces removal from its current location, has shared a 3D scan of the statue which people can print out and display.

Danish sculptor Jens Galschiøt on Friday made public the scans of the statue online, and said people “can put up copies of the sculpture at your school, university or workplace or around the city – only the imagination sets limits.”

A 3D scan of the Pillar of Shame. Photo: Photo: Jens Galschiøt.

“Take photos of the sculpture located in all possible and impossible places, in front of the local Chinese Embassy, or in the local parliament, on top of Mount Everest, on Mount Hong Kong, in Nepal, and New York,” wrote Galschiøt in a letter to the press.

“But be careful – this is certainly not harmless art.”

The artwork became the centre of a dispute after the University of Hong Kong (HKU), where the Pillar of Shame has been on display since 1999, asked the now-defunct Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China to remove it from the campus in October.

Galschiøt then wrote to HKU declaring his ownership of the sculpture. However, according to the artist, over one month has passed since HKU received his letter and he has yet to hear back.

In an open letter made public on November 12, the artist said he was willing to travel to Hong Kong to remove the statue, but demanded “full cooperation” from HKU as well as immunity from prosecution – citing concerns over the national security law.

Photo: May James/HKFP.

“I can understand from the press that the introduction of the new security legislation in Hong Kong means that there is a legal basis for arresting foreign nationals who engage in activities that criticise China,” the open letter read.

“A removal of the Monument of The Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989 will lead to activities and media coverage that could be perceived as criticism of China. Therefore, I will have to get a guarantee that my employees and I will not be prosecuted in relation to the disassemblement and moving of the monument.”

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

Alliance in court

HKU’s request to remove the Pillar of Shame was one of many recent incidents in which the Alliance, which previously organised a widely-supported annual vigil to mourn victims, came under pressure from authorities.

The annual vigil at Victoria Park on June 4, 2020, to commemorate victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. Photo: May James/HKFP.

The last two candlelight vigils were banned by police citing Covid-19 health concerns but protesters went ahead regardless in 2020. A total of 24 pro-democracy activists were charged over last year’s banned event.

Three defendants – media tycoon Jimmy Lai, vice-chairperson of the Alliance Chow Hang-tung, and activist Gwyneth Ho – pleaded not guilty while all the others admitted the charges. The verdicts in the trio’s cases will be handed down in December.

The Alliance and some of its core members also face charges under the Beijing-imposed national security law. Former chairperson and vice-chairperson of the Alliance, Lee Cheuk-yan and Albert Ho, Chow, and the organisation itself have been charged with inciting subversion.

The organisation, facing increasing pressure, decided to disband after 32 years following a vote in September. However, authorities frozen its bank accounts and assets several days later, essentially making it impossible for the group to complete the liquidation process.

In October, Chief Executive Carrie Lam removed the Alliance from Hong Kong’s companies registry, a move which the liquidator and former vice-chairperson of the Alliance Richard Tsoi called “premature and unnecessary.”

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.