image

Art

Art

Hong Kong activists join Russian punk band Pussy Riot in backing Chinese dissident cartoonist Badiucao

  • Group converge on Central in show of support for political artist after he calls off exhibition following ‘threats’ from mainland authorities
PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 November, 2018, 12:21am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 November, 2018, 8:36am

A small group of activists that included members of Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot gathered in Central on Sunday to show support for political cartoonist Badiucao and freedom of expression in Hong Kong.

Dozens had been expected to show up but only seven were seen by the time the group reached Tai Kwun, a former police station and prison turned arts and heritage complex chosen as the protest venue.

Fewer than 20 participants first converged at the foot of Cochrane Street, before walking up the hill to Tai Kwun and donning the feminist protest band’s trademark balaclavas while holding up pictures of Badiucao’s work.

Shanghai-born dissident Badiucao, whose art often satirises Chinese leaders, called off his first international solo exhibition in Hong Kong one day before its scheduled Saturday opening, with event organisers claiming he had received threats from mainland Chinese authorities. They did not provide any information on the threats.

Protest organisers claimed some participants may have been concerned about getting into trouble with police, who had a visible presence.

Pussy Riot member Nika Nikulshina said she believed many had been worried about prosecutions and had decided to break off from the march midway or not show up at all.

Political cartoonist calls off Hong Kong show ahead of opening amid claims of threats from Chinese authorities

“People are afraid, but this was exactly what this action was about – freedom of expression. If people are scared to express themselves then it should be a big topic to discuss, am I right?” she said.

Her advice to Hongkongers: “As long as you are afraid of showing up or [expressing] your free speech, it’s going to be like this.”

Pussy Riot gained fame in 2012 when they staged a “punk prayer” protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin inside the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. They have continued to carry out highly visible protests against the government despite members being jailed.

Four band members made headlines this summer when they put on police uniforms and stormed the pitch during the football World Cup final in Moscow.

Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung, who also attended Sunday’s gathering, said Beijing’s hardline stance on Hong Kong issues was encroaching on freedoms of creativity and expression.

Tai Kwun was a symbolic venue for the protest as it was a cultural landmark and former prison, Wong added.

Pussy Riot’s message to Hong Kong’s young political activists: keep on fighting

“It’s related to freedom of expression and how artists can advocate their ideas freely without any political censorship.”

Wong said the public should be aware that there were more than 30 political activists imprisoned in Hong Kong.

Wong, local artist Sampson Wong Yu-hin and Pussy Riot’s Olga Kuracheva and Nikulshina were invited to join Badiucao at the launch of his “Gongle” exhibition in Wong Chuk Hang, which showcases satirical cartoons lampooning Beijing and Hong Kong authorities.