Danish Foreign Minister calls Hong Kong’s removal of ‘Pillar of Shame’ sculpture worrying

Denmark’s Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod says that it is worrying that the sculpture “Pillar of Shame” made by Danish Jens Galschiøt has been removed from its place at Hong Kong University.

“I have strongly criticized the development in Hong Kong for a long time. Most recently directly to the Chinese Foreign Minister when I met with him a few weeks ago in China,” Jepps Kofod says in a written response to JydskeVestkysten.

“The case of the ‘Pillar of Shame’ is, unfortunately, another worrying case,” he says. 

On Wednesday evening last week, a fence and cover were placed around the eight-meter-high statue, and later it was removed by a crane. The following day, Hong Kong University confirmed that the sculpture had been removed.

“The decision regarding the old statue was based on an external, legal advice and risk assessment, in relation to what is best for the university,” Hong Kong University said in a statement.

The sculpture has been exhibited at the university since 1997 and was placed in the memory of the victims during the protests in Tiananmen Square in Beijing – also known as Tiananmen Square – in 1989.

The artist Jens Galschiøt is shocked and surprised that the sculpture has been removed mostly because he has offered the university to come and collect it himself. 

Jeppe Kofod states that the Danish side has been in dialogue with the Chinese authorities about the matter.

“From the Danish side, we have, both in Beijing and with the Chinese embassy here in Copenhagen, taken up the matter and called for a solution to the matter in dialogue with the artist,” Jeppe Kofod says. 

He believes that the case is in fact about the right to express oneself freely.

“As I have also said before, the Danish government can not decide which art other countries’ universities choose to exhibit. But for me and the government, the right to speak peacefully – through speech, art, or other means – is a completely fundamental right for all people. This is also true in Hong Kong,” he says. 

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

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