Press Release 13.11.1998
A Pillar of Shame for Pereiro de Melo’s murderers
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The Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot has decided to put up a Pillar of Shame in Brazil. The controversial
sculpture became world-famed and fanned a impassioned debate in all of Asia, when it was set up in Hong Kong last summer. This time the Pillar of Shame is to be set up in Brazil in support of the struggle
The murder on the Brazilian photographer Miguel Pereira de Melo is one more outrageous attack in the line of encroachments against the Brazilian landless peasants.
Pereira de Melo was found killed a week ago, immediately before he was about to testify in a trial on the massacre on 19 landless peasants on the 17. April 1996 in the northern state of Pará. He had taken pictures of the bodies of the dead peasants, and was a head witness in the trial. Both military and police participated in the cold-blooded massacre.
With the murder on the photographer the responsible for the brutal slaughter of the defenceless peasants are attempting to secure themselves impunity, a privilege which the perpetrators of such deeds have taken for granted for too long.
But the earth is getting hot under the feet of the perpetrators. Not even by countless brutal murders and infringements can they evade their responsibility in the long run. The consciousness of the world has woken up and insists on justice. It is seen in the establishment of the international War Crimes Tribunal, and the recent demands on legal proceedings against Pinochet. The acknowledgement of the anniversary of the massacre, the 17. April, as the international day against impunity is another sign of the world’s increasing alertness.
Brazil and the worlds conscience demands that the guilty people are being hold responsible for their deeds. This counts for those who participated in the crime as well as the persons of authority who have been trying to cover it up.
They shall not evade their responsibility no matter how high their position in the hierarchy they might be.
It is in order to support this demand that the Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot has decided to speed up the plans to set up the Pillar of Shame in Brazil.
The Pillar is an original dark sculpture eight metres in height depicting more than 50 painfully twisted human bodies. The sculpture is the centre piece of a comprehensive art happening that will spread over the Globe during the next ten years. About once a year, a Pillar of Shame will be mounted as a memorial of a severe infringement against humanity. The Pillar of Shame is a kind of Nobel Prize of Injustice.
On 4th June ‘97 the happening was started when 55,000 people gathered in Victoria Park in Hong Kong for a solemn candlelight vigil to commemorate the bloodshed 1989 in Beijing. The Pillar of Shame was displayed as the focal point of the ceremony. Hereafter it is displayed in turn on all the seven universities in Hong Kong until 4th June ‘98 when the Pillar once again took centre stage at the ceremony in Victoria Park.
The sculpture has ever since been the centre of various confrontations between the Chinese democracy movement and pro-Beijing politicians, in the street as well as in parliaments. Beyond doubt, the Pillar of Shame has turned one of the most poignant symbols of free speech and self-censorship in Asia.
On the Food Summit of FAO in Rome '96 Jens Galschiot met representatives of the landless peasants in Brazil. Since then there have been talks on the possibility of setting up a Pillar of Shame in Brazil to denounce the infringements on the landless. These plans have become a macabre actuality with the cold blooded elimination of Miguel Pereiro de Melo.
More information on the Pillar of Shame and Jens Galschiot's activities are available on Internet:
www.aidoh.dk - On the web-site plenty of photos are also available.
|2000: The Pillar of Shame in Brazil|