'Goddess' statue ruled out for liaison office

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 April, 2009, 12:00am

An attempt to remind Beijing of the sacrifices made by democracy activists in 1989 may have been thwarted. Police have refused to allow the replica Goddess of Democracy statue to be placed in front of the central government's Hong Kong liaison office.

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China had asked to be allowed to place the replica statue in front of the liaison office on April 26 for an event commemorating the crackdown 20 years ago on student protesters in Tiananmen Square.

It hoped the statue could represent the destination of its 20km 'democracy long run' to mark the anniversary, which will conclude with the handing in of a petition at the liaison office in Western district.

Unionist lawmaker and alliance member Lee Cheuk-yan said police had turned down the group's request to display the replica statue, usually brought out only for the annual June 4 candle-light vigil, though they had approved the route of the run.

Mr Lee said police told the group they had turned down the request because the footpath on Des Voeux Road West outside the liaison office was too narrow.

'We find this very regrettable and suspect it is a political decision,' he said. He urged the police to reconsider and said the group would discuss whether to defy the police.

A police spokesman said last night that the force had received notice from the organiser of an event scheduled for April 26 and was discussing arrangements with the group. The spokesman said the police respected the right to freedom of expression and would try to facilitate all lawful and peaceful public processions.

The construction of the original statue in the square in Beijing on May 30, 1989, brought the Goddess of Democracy face to face with the portrait of Mao Zedong on Tiananmen Gate.

It was one of the iconic moments of the pro-democracy movement. Days later, on June 4, soldiers accompanied by tanks were sent in to end the protest. Hundreds, and possibly thousands, of people were killed.

Mr Lee said he suspected there was a more organised obstruction of the alliance's events and influence this year. He cited Thursday's forum at the University of Hong Kong in which a mainland exchange student boldly declared: 'Not a drop of blood was spilled in Tiananmen.'

'We suspect there is an organised action to frustrate our work,' Mr Lee said.

The alliance is urging people born in 1989 to join its 'Y89' plan, under which they will take to the stage during the vigil to read a pledge to maintain the democracy movement.




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