Students of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) are hiding 10cm-long miniature statues of the “Goddess of Democracy” across the campus in an effort to mark the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
Just months earlier, university authorities had removed the original life-size statue from the campus.
Several university students discovered 3D-printed models of the goddess across the CUHK campus this week. The campus will mark the 33rd anniversary of the 1989 massacre on Saturday.
An Instagram account with the handle “finding_manneoi” – refering to the romanised version of the goddess’s Cantonese name – has begun to record discoveries of replicas across the open campus.
In some instances, replicas have been found near a vending machine and near the original statue’s spot, as well as many other locations.
At least nine such miniatures have been created as of Thursday, according to anonymous organisers who are making the statues and hiding them.
They said three statues will be tucked away in the corners of the campus every day, starting from 31 May until 5 June.
The Instagram account showed the sculptures accompanied by a note reading: “Bring her home, and do not forget the meaning behind it!”
The account already has more than a thousand followers.
The original statue showed the goddess holding a flaming torch in one hand and a book in another, inspired by the democracy symbol paraded by students at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Calling the statues “kind of a rebellion”, one of the student organisers said the Chinese university “stole the statue from its students so we’ve decided to make our own versions of it and put it back”, reported the Hong Kong Free Press.
“To us, the Goddess of Democracy is more than just a political statue, it is also a CUHK landmark. We have emotional attachments and a connection to it,” the organiser added.
An 18-year-old who discovered one of the tiny figurines said he considered it a good way to commemorate the current crackdown on pro-democracy activists by China.
This comes at a time when authorities in Hong Kong are threatening action against protests.
People staging “unauthorised assemblies” on Saturday have been warned against participating in “extremist” behaviour by the Hong Kong police.