Pillar of bodies points up shame of Tiananmen

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Hong Kong's defiant democracy movement prepared for a series of mass rallies to condemn Peking's bloody 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, just 28 days before China moves in to retake control of the British colony, Reuters reports.

Activists were busy in Hong Kong island's biggest park putting the final touches to the "Pillar of Shame", a sculpture of twisted bodies symbolising oppression.

Activists have locked horns with civic authorities over the sculpture, by Danish artist Jans Galschiot, accusing local leaders of censorship for refusing to let them display the 27ft statue in parks after the rallies end.

"Our application on the setting up of the Pillar of Shame in our parks was rejected for political reasons," said Mak Hoi-wah, a rally organiser.

Leung Kwok-Hung, one of the organisers of the demonstrations, said he was expecting 40,000 people at a candlelit vigil in the park to remember those who perished.

A handful of demonstrators gathered late yesterday across the road from the Chinese mission,putting up a wreath and lighting candles. They hung banners that said: "The heroes from the people never die. Homage to the martyrs of the democracy movement" and: "Turn the anger into power and end the one-party dictatorship".

In 1989, a million people flooded Hong Kong's streets in horror over Peking's brutality.

On Monday, Hong Kong's future leader, Tung Chee-hwa, said it was time to forget Tiananmen. And he criticised the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, the main organiser of pro- democracy protests, branded as subversive by Peking.