Found: The Pillar Of Shame Cut Up And Dumped In A Cargo Container
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Found: The Pillar Of Shame Cut Up And Dumped In A Cargo Container

byMichelle LaverJanuary 4, 2022

The Sculpture Made To Memorialise The Lives Lost In The 1989 Tiananmen Square killings Was Taken Down In An Attempt To Censor Its History – But Why?

“The old cannot kill the young forever.”The Pillar Of Shame

Those were the last words chiselled onto the base of the victims who were found wrapped up in plastic, gagged with rope and dumped in a cargo container on 23 December 2021.

Under the cover of darkness on a gloomy night, they made their way to the killing site. Gigantic tall wooden boards lifted to the sky as the murder was about to take place. 

The pillar of shame
The Workers Cutting And Wrapping The Monument. Photo By AP

Suddenly, drilling sounds and loud clanging could be heard coming from the boarded-up site, which was patrolled by armed guards, as workers barricaded the scene in Hong Kong. 

Down Came The Claw Machine And Up Rose The Screaming Dead

The victim – an eight-metre-tall Pillar of Shame, which depicted 50 torn and twisted bodies that towered in entanglements of human suffering, was cast in bronze, copper and concrete.

The colour, according to the artist, was a mixture of red, representing the dictatorship of China, and yellow, representing freedom and human rights.

Born in 1989, the suffering bodies were created by Danish sculptor Jens Galschiøt to symbolise those who lost their lives during the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

For 24 years this sculpture stood on the campus of Hong Kong University. 

The pillar of shame
The Pillar of Shame by Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot. (Reuters Photo: Tyrone Siu)

It represented the people of Hong Kong who, at the time, asked for more freedom but got bullets instead.

Not only did it stand for the past but it was a symbol of the present, of how far their walk to freedom got them. 

Now, all that’s left are plastic boards and an empty concrete corridor carrying the deafening silence that once stood tall. 

The entire sculpture vanished, carrying its memory with it.

…And The Rest Is History

The monument’s removal stemmed from the increasing pressure from the Beijing government. 

You see, the actual event that took place is seen as a taboo topic in mainland China where it cannot be publicly marked.

Every Year on 4 June, thousands of people rally throughout China in remembrance of a 1989 violent government crackdown. 

The pillar of shame
Famous Photograph Taken By American Photographer Jeff Widener. Man confronting a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

Reporters and Western diplomats on the scene estimated that at least 300, and perhaps thousands, of the protesters had been killed and as many as 10,000 were arrested.

To this day the Chinese government refuses to acknowledge the event, and any information about it is blocked on their internet and removed from public record. 

The father and creator of the sculpture had this to say:

“This is my sculpture and my property. At the moment they are destroying the artwork that belonged to a foreign artist and I think maybe this is the new case. Of course, we will try to protect our property and even sue them if this is necessary.” – Jens Galschiøt 

Today more and more statues are disappearing in Hong Kong. It just makes you wonder. What are they trying to hide?

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Hong Kong
Jeff Widener
Jens Galschiot
The pillar of shame
Tiananmen Square