A Hong Kong court found on Tuesday a Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) student guilty of attempting to commit sedition by obtaining a banner of The Pillar of Shame, according to local news reports. The student pleaded guilty to the charge of attempting to commit sedition over her plan to display a banner of the Pillar of Shame, a sculpture that once stood in Hong Kong to commemorate the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Upon conviction, the court sentenced the student to prison for 6 months, as reported by local news media, the Witness.

The prosecution’s case was that the student obtained a banner of the Pillar of Shame from overseas activists and planned to exhibit the banner in Causeway Bay on June 4, the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Incident. The police also found some photographs and memos in the student’s phone that showed her plan to participate in planned protests. Ahead of the June 4 anniversary of the 1989 protests, Hong Kong police cracked down on planned protests.

During sentencing, Magistrate Law reasoned that this case was of a severe nature because the protest involved the participation of foreign activists. The court reasoned that the banner of the Pillar of Shame could trigger emotions due to its sensitive content. Because of that and the court’s finding that the student was well-planned, the magistrate opined that the sentence must reflect sufficient deterrence. However, the magistrate also noted that the banner did not encourage violence because the Pillar of Shame had been displayed for many years prior to its December 2021 removal.

Upon her conviction, the Executive Director of Human Rights in China Zhou Feng-suo claimed that he provided the banner to the defendant for the memorials for the 1989 Tiananmen Square Incident.

Recently in August, another local news media Singtao Daily, reported that the national security police had planned for the arrest of Danish sculptor Jens Galschiøt, the creator of the Pillar of Shame. Galschiøt requested authorities clarify if there were charges filed against him. The police refused to disclose any details on individual cases, claiming that any disclosure might prejudice any pending or future criminal investigations and proceedings.

Apart from an attempt to commit sedition, the prosecution also charged the student with one count of sedition. The prosecution alleged that the student committed sedition by commemorating and publicly displaying a sketch of the suspect of a suicide attack that happened on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day. Magistrate Law demanded the withdrawal of this charge.