Press release, Belém, 23 April 2000:
Danish Pillar of Shame finds Permanent Site in Northern Brazil
On 1st May the Pillar of Shame, created by Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot, will be set up for good in Belém, capital of the northern state of Pará, where the military police killed 19 unarmed landless peasants on 17 April 1996 in the locality Eldorado de Carajás in connection with a land occupation. The sculpture will be mounted on Praça da Leitura, a central square of the capital to commemorate the massacre.
The 17 April has been elected as the International Day against Impunity, a date marking the uncountable murders on political opponents and poor people repeatedly committed by military, police and the ruling elite. In general the perpetrators have free hands to infringe the laws compulsory for ordinary people.
The Pillar of Shame, that has been dubbed ‘Nobel Prize of Injustice’, is eight metres in height and built up of more than 50 painfully twisted human bodies. The Danish artist has donated the sculpture to the municipality of Belém. The city has recently been the scene of fierce scuffles between members of the MST, the landless peasants movement and the police. The violent events took place in connection with a demonstration commemorating the Eldorado massacre. The police shot into the crowd and split the demon-stra-tion with tear gas.
The enraged demonstrators reciprocated by attacking the headquarters of the police, smashing windows and committing other devastation. The following day a mandate of arrest was issued for 15 MST militants who have evicted for fear of police repression.
The head of police has stated to the press that a legal prosecution is under way against the mayor Edmilson Rodrigues from the PT (Workers’ Party). The mayor is indicted for having fanned the scuffles by a provocative public speech.
The leaders of the demonstration are claiming, contrarily, that the turbulence has been started by police provocateurs infiltrating the demonstration. “In this agitated atmosphere the Pillar
of Shame will fulfil its purpose. It will be a poignant symbol of the exacerbated conflict between the impoverished landless peasants on the one side – and on the other side the mighty interests of the local
landlords who do not shrink from any means to maintain the dominion of ‘their’ land” – so the comment of Jens Galschiot. “The Pillar of Shame is a symbol opposing oppression and violence that is
taking a toll of lives and depriving people of their rights. But most of all it is a testimony of love and solidarity to our people”, Mayor Edmilson Rodrigues declares and continues: “Despite of resistance
from the elite, we stick to our promise of setting up the Pillar of Shame on a square that was occupied by the MST in an action against impunity in our country. They invaded Praça da Leitura with their tents
and hammocks and re-baptised it ‘the square of the Martyrs of 17 April’. That is why we are mounting the Pillar of Shame precisely on this square.”
More information and plenty of photos that can be used free of charge are available on the web-site of Jens Galschiot: www.aidoh.dk.
A direct link to the Brazilian project is:
Contact Jens Galschiot in Belém: