To all members of the Urban Council
Through the international news agencies I have heard that a Select Committee of the Urban Council has turned down an application of the Hong Kong Alliance for a permission of exhibiting my Pillar of Shame in Hong Kong parks in June and July. I under stand that the rejection is based on the assumption that the sculpture is an expression of support to British colonialism and of opposition to the reunification of Hong Kong with China. This assumption is totally erroneous. Therefore I send this clarification as an open letter to the Urban Council, to provide solid basic information for the full Council's consideration of the issue on Tuesday.
The Pillar of Shame sculptures will be set up around the world in defence of human rights and as a denouncement of all sorts of infringement against humani ty, committed be authorities or others. For me the struggle for human rights is not incompatible with rejection of colonialism. On the contrary, both attitudes are shared by all true democrats.
Accordingly, I hope the Pillar of Shame will be a valuable, although humble, contribution to the celebration of the end of British colonialism, and simultaneously a symbol of the struggle for human rights and freedom of expression in China, including Hong Kong. I hope fruitful cooperation can be established with the villagers in the New Territories who are building a memorial column for the people killed in battles against British soldiers.
The history of colonialism, also of the British brand, has been a bloody one. To China the intrusion of foreigners, especially the British, has been an anathema. According to the very nature of colonialism, the rulers deal at their discretion with territories without caring about the interests and wishes of the inhabitants, as were they just selling a sack of rice. No wonder that the Chinese people, including almost all Hong Kong citizens, welcome the end of the colonial epoch!
But rejection of colonialism is absolutely no reason for accepting a suspension of human rights and the freedom of expression. On the contrary!
I am conscious of the fact that, due to the colonial heritage, the Chinese people is highly sensitive to foreign intervention. Therefore, from the very beginning, it was clear to me that the mounting of the Pillar of Shame in Hong Kong would make sense only if carried out in close cooperation with local people. So I have been pleased with the cooperation that I've had until now with the Hong Kong Alliance. I will highly welcome if the cooperation can be extended to the Urban Council and other true democrats in Hong Kong.
That the Pillar of Shame be backed by all true democrats - as symbol of the defence of human rights and simultaneously as a poignant memorial of all victims of ruthless authorities - including the victims from Tiananmen and the victims of British colonialism - that's what I'm aiming at.
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|1997: The Pillar of Shame in Hong Kong|