Today is the 21st anniversary of the June 4 Massacre in Beijing Tiananmen and the Hong Kong public will continue their annual candle night vigil tonight. However, the preparation process hasn't been very smooth so far. And this year, the conflict point is around the Goddess of Democracy.
First of all, the Hong Kong police confiscated two statues of the Goddess of Democracy before the annual march to commemorate the Tiananmen incident on 30 of May. The government explained that the organizers of the public exhibition in Times Square has violated the “Public Entertainment Ordinance”. Kay Lam points out the absurdity of authorities’ actions:
Ben Ng's immediate reaction on the confiscation reflects most pro-democracy citizens’ feelings:
You can seize away the statue of democracy,
You can't seize away our determination to remember June 4th.
You can deprive our rights to true democracy,
You can't seize away our determination to strive for democracy.
When conscience and common sense are interpreted as radical,
Freedom and democracy is under threat.
The statues were returned to the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China after a series of confrontations and online mobilization threatened to surround the police station on June 3. Below is a YouTube video showing one of the confrontation scenes in Times Square in which several protesters were arrested:
Apart from physical confrontation, several activists have staged protests in Times Square by dressing as the Goddess of Democracy over the past few days. Below is a photo which has been circulated via twitter:
Meanwhile, Hong Kong Immigration has denied entry to the sculptor of the Statue, Chen Weiming, on June 1. Chen was deported back to the U.S early on the morning of June 2.
The most outrageous incident has been the Chinese University Authority's refusal to allow the Democracy Goddess entry onto the university campus under the pretext of “political neutrality”. A number of student organizations have issued a joint statement condemning the school authority's interpretation of “political neutrality” and its implication for free speech and expression (via interlocals.net):
The university claimed it should “re-affirm the principle of political neutrality” in the public letter. If this meant that the university shall not restrict teaching, research or expression by reason of political affiliation, we would have applauded. However, it was the university’s claim that dissident voice would limit the freedom of others and should be prohibited. The fundamental value of the freedom of expression is the protection of the dissent. The university is reversing right and wrong to repress dissident voice on the claim of freedom of expression.
To adulate the official stance of the mainland China regime, the university has unveiled its crude repression without pretense of being rational or logical to restrict the display of the statue of Goddess of Democracy in the campus. Even worse, it was stated in its public letter that “the University should not align itself with actions or activities which project a political position that would compromise the University's principle of political neutrality”, which would mean that any campus activity reflecting a political position will be subject to the repression of the university. This is equivalent to bury the spirit and virtue of a university, and abandonment of academic freedom. The “harmonious society” is only one step away.
The students also painted the stage of the statue “Door to Knowledge” outside the university library in white to signify the political color of “political neutrality” (photo via inmediahk)
Following tonight's candlelight vigil, a group of university students, alumnus, teachers and staff will escort the Democracy Goddess to the university campus. Citizen reporters will live blog the events via twitter tags #8964 or #inmediahk.