'Pillar of Shame' replica to be unveiled at Taipei's Tiananmen vigil

05/31/2022 09:06 PM
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Students stage the annual Tiananmen Massacre monument event at the University of Hong Kong in 2021. CNA file photo
Students stage the annual Tiananmen Massacre monument event at the University of Hong Kong in 2021. CNA file photo

Taipei, May 31 (CNA) A scaled-down replica of the "Pillar of Shame" statue honoring the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing in 1989 will be unveiled at a commemorative vigil in Taipei Saturday evening, according to the event's main organizer, the New School for Democracy (NSD).

The focal point of the vigil, which will be held on Democracy Boulevard at National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, will be the unveiling of the replica of the statue that was previously erected at the University of Hong Kong, NSD Chairman Tseng Chien-yuan (曾建元) said at a press conference on Monday.

Tseng told CNA that his organization had been raising funds in Taiwan for a copy of the seven-meter-tall sculpture made by Danish artist Jens Galschiøt and that the donations gathered so far were enough for a roughly three-meter tall replica.

Galschiøt created six pieces entitled "Pillar of Shame." One of them, which remembers the pro-democracy protesters killed in Beijing's Tiananmen Square from the small hours of June 3, 1989, to the morning of June 4, had stood at the University of Hong Kong for two decades until the Hong Kong authorities ordered its demolition in December 2021.

CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Galschiøt was later reported to have relinquished the reproduction rights to the sculpture, enabling anyone to make a copy of it provided that all proceeds are given to efforts supporting the city's democracy movement.

According to Tseng, the Taipei-based NSD acquired permission from the Danish artist to build a replica of the statue using 3D printing technology.

The reimagining of the statue in Taipei, Tseng said, was a testament to the continued efforts to remember the Chinese government's violent crackdown against pro-democracy activists 33 years ago in Beijing.

According to Tseng, with Hong Kong not holding the vigil this year, Taiwan will be the only place in the Chinese-speaking world holding such an event to mark the 33rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, which is also known as the June 4th Incident.

However, the lineup of the vigil, which begins at 6:40 p.m., has yet to be disclosed.

Hong Kong's pro-democracy groups held a large-scale vigil in the city's Victoria Park every year on June 4 from 1990 to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre.

However, the authorities in Hong Kong banned the event in 2020, citing COVID-19 concerns, and have reportedly declined to allow Victoria Park to be rented to the public on June 4 in the years since.

In addition to the vigil in Taiwan, several activities featuring what Tseng described as "Hong Kong elements" will be held on Saturday at the same venue, including a screening hosted by Amnesty International Taiwan of the Hong Kong movie, "May You Stay Forever Young," at 2 p.m.

The NSD will also open an exhibition on Wednesday at National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall that touches upon major political upheaval seen in Hong Kong in recent years, including the Umbrella Movement in 2014, anti-extradition bill protests in 2019, and the imposition of the National Security Law in 2020.

The exhibition, which will run until June 12, features installations and other works made by seven artists, including Australia-based Chinese caricaturist Badiucao (巴丟草), Jens Galschiøt, and Hong Kong artist and recent Taiwan transplant Kacey Wong (黃國才).

(By Sheng Peng-ta, Lee Ya-wen and Teng Pei-ju)

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