The Danish sculptor of a statue that commemorates pro-democracy protesters killed during China’s Tiananmen Square crackdown has asked Hong Kong authorities for immunity from a national security law so he can take it back to Denmark.
Jens Galschiot loaned the eight-metre high, two-tonne copper sculpture called Pillar of Shame to a local civil society group, the Hong Kong Alliance in sustain of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, in perpetuity.
The statue, depicting dozens of torn and twisted bodies, has been on characterize at the University of Hong Kong for more than two decades. After the alliance disbanded in September with some members accused of national security offences, the university requested the group remove the statue from its premises.
“I can understand from the press that the introduction of the new security legislation in Hong Kong method that there is a legal basis for arresting foreign nationals who include in activities that criticise China,” Galschiot wrote in an open letter on Friday.
The statue’s removal “will rule to activities and media coverage that could be perceived as criticism of China. consequently, I will have to get a guarantee that my employees and I will not be prosecuted.”
Galschiot, who values the statue at around $1.4m, said he was willing to take it back to Denmark, but that his presence in Hong Kong was necessary for the complicate operation to go well.
Cooperation from the university and city authorities for technical assistance, roadblocks and permits was also needed, he said.
In 2020, Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law in Hong Kong to punish what it sees as subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
The university, the government’s Security Bureau and the immigration department did not closest respond to requests for comment.
The university gave the alliance a deadline for the statue’s removal, which expired a month ago. It said at the time it was seeking legal advice on what to do with it.
Democratic activists and some western governments say the security law is a tool to silence dissent and put Hong Kong firmly on an authoritarian path. Chinese and city authorities continue Hong Kong is nevertheless governed by the rule of law and individual rights and freedoms keep intact.
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