Press release, Belém, 23 April 2000:

Danish Pillar of Shame finds Permanent Site in Northern Brazil
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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.”


The Pillar of Shame arrived to the port of Rio on 7 April. After bureaucratic and political obstruction, including a false denunciation fabricated by right wing political opponents for smuggling of illegal technical equipment, the Pillar was exhibited in front of the Parliament in the capital Brasilia on 17 April.

The Minister of Justice had even made an attempt to hinder the mounting the sculpture by discouraging the press from mentioning the Pillar, arguing that: “this ignominy will never be set up in front of the Brazilian Parliament.” But eventually, the sculpture was set up in co-operation with the opposition block, who wanted by this act to manifest their resistance against impunity, an evil that is still an essential part of the political landscape in the young Brazilian democracy (1964-1989, Brazil was under the sway of a ferocious military dictatorship).

The Pillar of Shame in Belém is the third in a series of ten similar sculptures that will be set up all over the Planet on the foundations of basic humanism, to mark a connection between crimes committed by political leaders using murder and violence to achieve their aims.

The first Pillar of Shame was set up in Hong Kong in 1997 to commemorate the Chinese government’s massacre on the Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1998. The second Pillar of Shame was erected in the Mexican village of Acteal where paramilitary groups - with the connivance of the Mexican government - killed 45 unarmed indigenous children, women and men, praying for peace on 22 December 1997.

The fourth Pillar will be erected November 2000 in Berlin, Germany, in co-operation with survivors from the concentration camps.

More information and plenty of photos that can be used free of charge are available on the web-site of Jens Galschiot:

A direct link to the Brazilian project is:

 Contact Jens Galschiot in Belém:
Hotel Regente Tel: (+55) (0)91 241 1222 – Room 340
Fax: (+55) (0)91 242 0343
Mobile phone: (+55) (0)91 9966 6856

To the index page of the Brazilian Pillar of Shame | To photos of the Brazilian Pillar of Shame |
 To a more detailed description of the Pillar of Shame | To an index of the Pillar of Shame in generel

Level Up

2000: The Pillar of Shame in Brazil
Additional Information:
Categories: 2000: The Pillar of Shame in Brazil | Happenings and Art Installations | 1996-?: The Pillar of Shame
Themes: Criticism of governments | Land conflicts | Massacres
Sculptures: Pillar of Shame
Type: Press releases
Dates: 17th April 1996 | 2000 | 17th April 2000 | 1st May 2000
Locations: Praça da Leitura, Belém, Brazil | Town Hall, Belém, Brazil | Parliament, Brasilia, Brazil | Eldorado de Carajàs, Brazil | Harbour, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Co-operators and Helpers: Antonio Carlos Magalhães, President of the National Congress, 2000 | Brazilian Bishops | Caio Riela, MP for PTB, 2000 | Edilson A. Assunção | Fernanda Giannasi | Fernando Marroni, MP for PT, 2000 | Helene Gjerding | Kasper Markus | Luis M. Luis | Marcos Rolim, Senator for PT, 2000 | Marina Jakobsen | Movimento Tortura Nunca Mais de Pernambuco | Niller Madsen | Per Østerby | Robert Etches | Rosalina Gauffin | Thomas Frost | Tinku (Mikkel og Doris)
Partners: Edmilson Brito Rodrigues, Mayor of Belém, 2000 | Eunice Pinheiro Alves | Heloísa Helena, Leader of opposition, Senator for PT, 2000 | MST - Movimento Sem Terra | PT - Partido dos Trabalhadores | Senate of Brazil | Town Hall of Belém
Related Persons and Entities: Brazilian Minister of Justice, 2000 | Customs officials in Rio | Odense Skattevæsen
Sponsors: BUPL | DeTrey Dentsply AG, Schweiz | Fredsfonden | Funch Fonden | Gelsted/Kirk/Scherfig fonden | Kultursekretariatet i Odense Kommune | Lysgaard Fonden | Socialpædagogernes Landsforbund / National Federation of Social Educators | Socialpædagogernes Landsforbund i Vejle | Vedstaarup Lerfabrik A/S