Yesterday was the 21st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident. Up to 150,000 people gathered in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park (維多利亞公園) last night for the annual candlelight vigil, dedicated to remembering the courage of those involved in the student uprising at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square (天安門廣場) on 4 June 1989. This record attendance comes amidst increasing agitation within the former British colony towards Beijing as people feel an increased scrutiny from the government. Campaigners are also resenting the increased interference Beijing is showing in the democratic movement in Hong Kong.
New Goddess of Democracy (新民主女神像) in 2010
Times Square (時代廣場)
It has been a week of controversy in Hong Kong. Thirteen protesters were arrested on 29 May 2010 in Times Square after clashing with police when protecting their 6.4 metre tall bronze Goddess of Democracy statue and a 6.4 metre wide carving depicting the Tiananmen Square massacre (天安門屠殺浮雕) from being seized. The pieces of art were eventually seized by police but police agreed to “free” (release) the works on 1 June 2010 as an act of goodwill after negotiations with the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China.
The Chinese-born now American sculptor that created the art works, Chen Weiming (陳維明), was refused entry into Hong Kong on 2 June 2010. At the airport, he was stopped by Hong Kong immigration officials and sent back to the United States after he flew into the territory to check the sculpture for damage. He was quoted to have said 「香港不是法治地區嗎？」(“Is Hong Kong not a place of law?”). He graduated from Beijing’s Central Academy of Craft Art (中央工藝美術學院).
On 30 May 2010, a smaller version of the bronze statue made from a plastic-like material was used in a protest in the city. It was also seized by police when it was left to stand outside a shopping centre.
Chinese University of Hong Kong (香港中文大學)
On 2 June 2010, the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) banned its students from erecting the Goddess of Democracy statue within the campus confines citing the need to maintain political neutrality. It was immediately labelled the “Chinese” university of Hong Kong (中[國]大[學]), with students accusing the university of being pro-Chinese.
The CUHK student union went into negotiations with university officials and despite not achieving consensus, the statue was brought in. The union was able to erect the statue on campus on 5 June 2010, hours after the candlelight vigil at Victoria Park. Close to a thousand teachers, students and media crammed onto the Hong Kong MTR from Causeway Bay station (銅鑼灣站) to CUHK to welcome the statues’ appearance.
Now discussions centre upon the future of the art works in CUHK.
Victoria Park (維多利亞公園)
The bronze Goddess of Democracy statue was erected in Victoria Park for the candlelight vigil on 4 June 2010 immediately after its release from police custody on 1 June 2010. It was displayed proudly during the candlelight vigil before being relocated to CUHK. Members of the public left flowers at its base as respect to those fallen twenty-one years ago.
Goddess of Democracy (民主女神像) in 1989
The new statue was meant to replicate the 10 metre foam and papier-mâché original created by university art students on 30 May 1989. At the time it was the symbol of the student’s struggle for democracy in Tiananmen Square (below). The original Goddess of Democracy only stood for five days before it was toppled by tanks as the People’s Liberation Army cracked down on the 300,000 protesters on the morning of 4 June 1989.
(Source: various articles on Yahoo! Hong Kong News)