Press release from Jens Galschiot and Lasse Galschiot Markus
In memory of Szeto Wah
– democracy fighter from Hong Kong
Recently a number of huge public commemorations have taken place in Hong Kong. Thousands of Chinese have participated to honor and commemorate the poet, the Member of Parliament and the democracy activist Szeto Wah who died on January 2, 2011. A large number of Chinese dissidents have been trying to go to Hong Kong to attend the commemoration. But sadly, many have been rejected in the airport, as a direct consequence of Chinas growing influence in Hong Kong, despite of Chinas promise of regional autonomy.
Besides of Szeto Wah’s regional influence, his work has also influenced European art- and grassroot movements. As President of ‘Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China’ Szeto Wah received the Danish artist Jens Galschiot’s 8 meter tall sculpture ‘The Pillar of Shame’, which was placed in Hong Kong in 1997 as a permanent memorial to the Tiananmen massacre in Beijing 1989. Today the sculpture has also become a symbol of the Chinese threat to freedom of speech and human rights in Hong Kong, after China’s takeover of Hong Kong in 1997. The erection of the sculpture has caused so much anger in Beijing, that the Danish artist has been black listed in China and has several times been rejected entrance into Hong Kong despite of the agreement on visa free travel for Europeans. For this reason Jens Galschiot cannot participate in the commemoration of Szeto Wah. Being a brilliant poet Szeto Wah was the one who gave Chinese names to both ‘The Pillar of Shame’ and its creator Jens Galschiot.
On the funeral day on January 29th, Jens Galschiot and his son Lasse Galschiot declare:
”We had the honor of working with Szeto Wah on several occasions. We experienced his skills as he mastered the symbolic language and used creativity to generate debate and interest in the fight for a more humanistic society.
For example he knew how to use western art, in shape of ‘The Pillar of Shame’. Thereby internationalizing the struggle for a democratic Hong Kong, and maintain that Beijing does not have the right to restrict freedom of expression in Hong Kong. In 2008 we were denied entrance into Hong Kong, as we were taking part in the art happening ’TheColorOrange’ which would focus on the human rights situation during the Olympics in China in 2008. But Szeto Wah was able to turn defeat into victory as he and other democracy advocates painted ‘The Pillar of Shame’ orange themselves - thereby bringing attention to the lack of freedom of speech in the country.
We will remember Szeto Wah as a friend and a comrade in the struggle for a more humanistic world.
The fight is far from won. But all sorts of advocates for a more humane world will commemorate Szeto Wah with honor and respect. And his visions and use of symbolic language will be an eternal source of inspiration for us to continue the fight.”
Szeto Wah’s memorial will be a source of inspiration for future generations of democracy activists.
Jens Galschiot, sculptor Denmark and
Lasse Galschiot Markus, organizer and communications officer
We have collected a large number of links and photos about Szeto Wah at: http://www.aidoh.dk/Szeto
Info: About the art happening TheColorOrange
carried out in connection to the Olympics in Beijing
Info: About the sculpture The Pillar of Shame, http://www.aidoh.dk/HK-Pillar
Info: AboutThe Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China http://www.alliance.org.hk/english/index.html
Info: About the Tiananmen massacre: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Square_protests_of_1989
Info and documentation: About the Tiananmen massacre: http://www.aidoh.dk/4June89