Criticized, US law firm cancels relocation of Tiananmen statue in Hong Kong

The law firm from the United States (US), Mayer Brown, on Friday (15/10) said that it was not helping a university in Hong Kong to remove a statue commemorating the Tiananmen tragedy. The firm’s role has drawn criticism from human rights organizations and American politicians.

The eight-metre-high copper statue honoring the slain Tiananmen Square demonstrator has been on display at the University of Hong Kong for more than 20 years. The statue depicts dozens of injured and twisted bodies, symbolizing those killed in the Chinese government’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

The law firm previously described the case as a mere “real estate matter”. On Friday they said they would “not represent their old client (University of Hong Kong) in this matter” and declined to comment further.

Mayer Brown, which is one of America’s largest law firms, found it caught between international public anger and sensitivity in doing business in China.

The University of Hong Kong did not return a request for comment.

Known as the Pillar of Shame, the statue is one of the few remaining public symbols from the Tiananmen Square episode, which is a taboo topic in China and cannot be publicly commemorated there.

Danish sculptor Jens Galschi√łt loaned the statue indefinitely to a Hong Kong civil society group that disbanded last month because some of its members were accused of violating national security.

On behalf of the university, the firm wrote a letter asking the group to remove the statue by Wednesday (13/10), but it did not.

In response to the criticism, Mayer Brown said earlier this week that “Our legal advice is not intended to be a commentary on current or historical events.” (ka/rs)

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