- The firm demanded the removal of a statue in Hong Kong commemorating protesters killed during the strike in Tiananmen Square
- Mayer Brown says University of Hong Kong, which wants the statue removed, is a long-term client
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(Reuters) – Republican senators and human rights activists have targeted US law firm Mayer Brown for her work on behalf of Hong Kong University, which is seeking to remove a statue commemorating pro-democracy protesters from campus. killed during Tiananmen, China. Square strike in 1989.
The statue, a 26-foot-tall, two-ton copper sculpture known as the “Pillar of Shame,” is one of the few remaining public symbols in China commemorating the blow to Tiananmen Square. Beijing resumed control of Hong Kong in 1997. The statue has been installed on the campus of the University of Hong Kong for more than two decades.
The Danish sculptor who made the statue borrowed it from a local civil society group, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, for eternity. In a letter Thursday to the alliance, Mayer Brown demanded her removal by Wednesday on behalf of the university.
The letter, which did not include any of Mayer Brown’s lawyers, drew the ire of statue maker Jens Galschiot, and drew criticism from a number of human rights activists and organizations, including U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz.
“American firms should be ashamed to participate” in the removal of the statue, Cruz told reporter Eli Lake in a Substack column published Wednesday. Graham in the article complained that “American law firms are making Communist Party bids.” A Graham spokesman declined to comment further. Cruz’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Separately, a group of 28 NGOs called on Mayer Brown to end his relationship with the university open letter, saying the firm ‘s request “shows that Mayer Brown has violated its stated mission to make a positive difference in the lives of citizens in Hong Kong.”
Mayer Brown said in a statement that he was “asked to provide a specific service on a real estate issue for our long-term client, the University of Hong Kong.”
“Our role as an external advisor is to help our clients understand and respect current law. Our legal advice is not intended to comment on current or historical events,” the firm said.
Samuel Chu, a founder and former managing director of the Hong Kong-based Democracy Council in Washington, DC, said in an email that it was “unacceptable” that Mayer Brown had promoted his commitment to human rights in the context of death. of George Floyd “while operating quite the opposite in Hong Kong.”
Mayer Brown can trace its presence in Hong Kong in the 19th century through one of its inherited firms, Johnson Stokes & Master, which was founded in Hong Kong in 1863 and merged with Mayer Brown in 2008.
Tiananmen statue creator accuses HK University of ‘mafia’ tactics
Reporting by David Thomas
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