The University of Hong Kong has removed its famous statue commemorating the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
The monument was removed under the cover of evening darkness after standing outside the university for more than two decades.
The statue of a pile of corpses was meant to remind people of the pro-democracy protesters killed by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in 1989. It is believed that there may have been thousands of people who died that day and thousands more injured, though the CCP has claimed that only 200 were killed.
The protesters had been camping in the square for weeks to call for things like freedom of speech and freedom of the press. On June 4, the government declared martial law, and the military moved in and opened fire. Some estimates have put the death toll as high as 10,000.
The massacre remains taboo and one of the most censored topics by the Chinese Communist Party. Those who bring it up are accused of questioning the government’s legitimacy.
The statue was one of the few places that people could openly remember the massacre, but the CCP has been rapidly moving to shut down any dissent in Hong Kong. The sculpter, Jens Galschiot, said that their intention was to “remind us of a shameful event which must never recur.”
Galschiot has condemned the removal and called it “really brutal.”
“This is a sculpture about dead people and [to] remember the dead people in Beijing in ’89. So when you destroy that in this way then it’s like going to a graveyard and destroying all the gravestones,” he told BBC Newshour.
According to another report from the BBC, the university had ordered the removal of the statue in October.
“The decision on the aged statue was based on external legal advice and risk assessment for the best interest of the university,” the university said in a statement on Thursday.
The university claimed that the statue was also a safety risk.
“The university is also very concerned about the potential safety issues resulting from the fragile statue.”
The report notes that the CCP has often cited safety concerns to squash memorials for the victims of the massacre.