Hong Kong universities remove more Tiananmen Square memorials

Goddess of Democracy statue in Hong Kong Credit: AP/Press Association Images

Universities in Hong Kong are removing more memorials to the bloody suppression of the 1989 Chinese pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square as the Communist Party tightens its grip on the semi-autonomous city.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong took down the “Goddess of Democracy” early on Friday morning, a statue based on a figure created by art students and brought to the square shortly before the crackdown in which hundreds, if not thousands, of people were killed.

The removal of the monuments testifies to the ruling Communist Party’s efforts to erase the bloody events from the public consciousness.

In mainland China, any reference to the tragedy is completely suppressed, with many not even knowing it happened.

University students light candles at the site after the "Goddess of Democracy" Credit: AP

The moves also come as the party tries to stamp down on democratic challenges in Hong Kong to its rule.

When the UK transferred Hong Kong to China in 1997 the city had democratic rights to elect its own representatives, which the people on the mainland did not.

In recent years the Chinese government has attempted to limit these freedoms despite continual fierce protests by the people of Hong Kong.

On Thursday, a monument to the massacre at the University of Hong Kong was dismantled, wiping out one of the city’s last remaining places of public commemoration of the crackdown.

The famous pillar of shame was removed on Thursday Credit: AP

The government has never provided a figure on casualties and the pro-democracy movement remains a taboo topic in mainland China.

Hong Kong and Macao, the two semi-autonomous territories, were the only places on Chinese soil where commemorations of the crackdown were allowed until authorities banned annual candlelight vigils for two consecutive years.

In a statement, Chinese University confirmed the removal of the statue and said it had never authorised its display and that no organisation has claimed responsibility for its maintenance and management.

Separately, Lingnan University also removed a bas-relief memorial wall display dedicated to the memory of the June 4 movement.

The university’s decision was predicated on the “overall protection of the university community after a recent assessment”, government-run Hong Kong Radio Television reported.