We’ve just received an email from Tang Ping-Keung, secretary of security. I hereby send the letter to you and you are free to do with it, as you see fit.
The answer from HK SAR shows with all clarity that Hong Kong is moving away from democracy and towards a lawless dictatorship.
Since the security bureau seems incapable of coming up with a clear answer, I have taken contact with the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, encouraging them the contact Hong Kong to clarify my situation. Within the next few days I will send a response to Hong Kong's security bureau.
It is puzzling Mr. TANG Ping-keung in his letter devotes so much to describing elements of the National Security Law of HKSAR, without revealing whether I am officially charged, which was the core of my inquiry. It would seem that I am to read the answer between the lines, which speaks to the surreptitions of intelligence agencies working on the fringe of the law.
I would question whether a real terrorist would contact authorities to begin with.
This is how I see the security bureaus letter
The message of the Pillar of Shame: First of all it is important for me to clarify that my sculpture The Pillar of Shame in Hong Kong is a memorial of the victims of the Massacre on Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989, where Chinas military killed innocent students and protestors. If activists use the sculpture in their fight to overturn the Chinese system this is their choice and I will not prevent it. The beauty of art is that it can be enterpreted freely.
Criminalizing Hong Kongs art marked: Hong Kongs security Bureau writes that “It is a common modus operandi of those seeking to endanger national security to engage in such acts and activities under the pretexts of "peaceful advocacy", "artistic creations" and so forth”. In reality, this means that all advocates of peace and artists become suspects of criminal deeds.
Hong Kong is home for one of the biggest free art markets in Asia. Following this logic all of the artists, its exhibition spaces and auction houses in Hong Kong should see themselves as suspects of “endanger national security” or aiding it. As an artist, and I am sure I speak for the majority of artists, this is an extremely scary logic which can crush all types of artistic of creative creations.
Don’t worry if Hong Kong’s security bureau sees you as a criminal. The same goes for most western politicians and human rights groups. In the letter, it is written that “The National Security Law applies to acts and activities committed in the HKSAR, as well as those committed abroad by permanent residents of the HKSAR or against the HKSAR by persons who are not permanent residents”. This statement makes just about half the world’s parliamentarians criminals and potential for arrest. Eg. If they have discussed Hong Kong's independence of Human Rights in China. But don’t worry, in Hong Kong they can “Rest assured that when the police arrest a person, he will be informed upon arrest the offence for which he is arrested”.
No, Hong Kong does not live up to the principles of international law “The scope of application of the National Security Law fully aligns with the principles of international law, international practice and common practice adopted in various countries and regions. Such practice is both necessary and legitimate and is also in line with those of other countries and regions around the world.” As Hong Kong’s security bureau of course know this is not true at all. I have placed sculptures all over the world, that were critical towards the countries and their leaders.
In 1999 I placed a similar Pillar of Shame in Chiapas Mexico, where paramilitary groups slaughtered 45 unarmed indigenous people. In 2000 I placed another Pillar of Shame in front of the Brazilian Parliament in the capital Brasilia on the anniversary of the massacre on landless peasants in the country. In Europes capitals, I placed 20 Inner Beast sculptures to warn the countries of growing racism and fear of foreigners. Paradoxically the Pillar of Shame stood in Hong Kong for 25 years, before the newly invented “Security Law” marked the sculpture as a problem.
All around the world politicians, individuals, human rights organizations and especially artists have the right, under the law, to criticize and question the government and society.
In the final part of the letter, it is explained that “Seizure of any property or exhibit for criminal investigation or criminal proceedings in connection with offences endangering national security is conducted by the law enforcement authorities in accordance with legal or judicial authorization. Any such property or exhibit seized will be handled and disposed of (if appropriate) in accordance with the law”. I see this as a clear threat to dispose of The Pillar of Shame. Here I want to clarify that this is my private property and not the property of anybody else, especially not Hong Kong SAR. On top of this, the sculpture does not fall under any of the offences mentioned in the letter, as it is solely concerned with honoring the people who died on Tiananmen Square in 1989 and it was placed in Hong Kong in 1997 before it was taken over by China.