Hong Kong police confiscate 2nd Tiananmen statue

The statue is dedicated to victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Updated: May 31, 2010, 15:15 PM IST

Hong Kong: Hong Kong police have seized a second statue dedicated to victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, in what critics called an attack on freedom of expression in this semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

The Chinese military`s suppression of pro-democracy student protests in June 1989, which killed at least hundreds, is off-limits on the mainland, but it is openly mourned and criticised in Hong Kong, a former British colony that is guaranteed western-style civil liberties.

However, days before the crackdown`s 21st anniversary, Hong Kong democracy activists have accused authorities of taking a less tolerant approach this year.

On Saturday, Hong Kong police confiscated a large statue and a carving erected in memory of the Tiananmen victims on the grounds that activists didn`t have a license to display them. They also arrested 13 people who tried to protect the two pieces.

Defiant activists paraded a second statue, a smaller version of the "Goddess of Democracy" statue, seized on Saturday, during a protest yesterday, and left it by a popular shopping mall late in the day. Hong Kong police took it about an hour later, said Lee Cheuk-yan, a pro-democracy legislator who was guarding the statue.

Lee, who was also arrested on Saturday, was detained again yesterday along with a fellow activist.

"This is an escalation in political persecution. They can`t even tolerate a `Goddess of Democracy` statue. What kind of government is this? What kind of Hong Kong is this?" Lee said today.

The opposition lawmaker wasn`t immediately charged and was freed on bail after two hours.

Hong Kong police said in a statement today, they removed the second statue because it also wasn`t licensed. The two activists were arrested on suspicion of interfering with police work, the statement said.