06/01/2010, 00.00
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Hong Kong police sets conditions for returning the Goddess of Democracy

Statues measuring several metres are seized. Police says they would be returned if safety regulations are respected. Pro-democracy alliance activists take to the street dressed like the Goddess, threatening to surround North Point Police Station.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Hong Kong government authorities are discussing with pro-democracy activists ways to return two statues of the Goddess of Democracy, seized before a march was held on 30 May to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre. The event was organised by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China (see Catholics in Hong Kong and Card. Zen demand the truth about the Tiananmen massacre).

In a statement last night, a government spokesperson said that the art pieces would be returned "under condition that the police's relevant requirements will be followed".

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region said that it would require the Alliance to get insurance and approval from registered engineers to guarantee that any object taller than 1.7 metres on 4 June meets safety standards. The confiscated statues measure several metres.

Alliance activists appear unwilling to accept any political conditions though. For Alliance Deputy Chairman Lee Cheuk-yan, “If the government refuses to release it, then beware: we will surround the North Point police station at 6 pm on June 3 to demand their release.”

In the meantime, in a challenge to police, the Alliance last night displayed a 4.5-metre painting of the Goddess of Democracy in Times Square. Several activists dressed like the statue staged a protest.

The original Goddess of Democracy was a ten-metre statue made of foam and papier-mâché over a metal armature, set up in Tiananmen Square on 30 May 1989. It was destroyed following the crackdown on 4 June.

However, copies of the statue have been used to commemorate that date in Hong Kong ever since.

Activists want the statues seized by police this year to be returned so that they can be displayed in Victoria Park on the eve of the anniversary.

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