Prague Action by “Art in Defense of Human Rights” (AIDOH)

Seven Million Children Die Each Year — Requiem for the Victims of World Bank


The following information was forwarded to our magazine on the eve of the mass demonstrations in Prague, Czechoslovakia, against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Jubilee 2000 is an international campaign for cancellation of the billions of dollars of debt owed by Third World countries (mostly debt incurred by local dictators) to the banks and other financial institutions of the advanced capitalist countries.

As described in the press release below, we are now leaving for Prague to take part in the activities related to the summit of the World Bank and IMF. In the framework of various NGO initiatives we will use our sculptures to highlight the imbalance in the world. We will be meeting people of high and low rank. President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel, himself a former NGO activist, has invited Danish sculptor and founder of AIDOH Jens Galschiot to a conference in the Castle of Prague which is used as the presidential palace. Our accommodations will be more humble: our tents in the old stadium. During our stay we will constantly put news on the Internet: see www.aidoh.dk.

Regards,

Vagn Frausing, International Secretary, AIDOH

Press Release of September 21, 2000

Danish demonstrators will organize a “happening” on corporate-sponsored death during the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Prague on September 24 and 26.

Twenty dark copper masks on 4-meter-high poles shrouded in black, a 5-meter-high female Messenger from the South, and a Pillar of Shame made of distorted faces, these are some of the ingredients in a funeral procession to be held by Danish Jubilee 2000 supporters. Artist Jens Galschiot and his people, along with thousands of Jubilee 2000 supporters in corpse costumes and carrying crosses, will help to highlight the responsibility of the IMF, the World Bank, and the rich countries for the victims of globalization: 7 million children die each year as a result of the way the rich countries undermine social development in the poorest countries, according to the United Nations.

The G-8 meeting in Japan in June this year was a demonstration of the lack of will of the largest economies to find a solution to the debt crisis of the developing countries. Jubilee 2000 must now therefore turn to the IMF and World Bank to exert pressure on them directly and on the governments of the rich countries. These institutions have blocked debt cancellation with far too severe economic conditions, and for the past 10 years have increased poverty by imposing heavy-handed and unsuccessful economic reforms on the poorest countries. The IMF and the World Bank still refuse to acknowledge their responsibility for the debt crisis and therefore allow donor countries like Denmark to buy their way out of debt cancellation with aid funds.

During the financial crisis in Asia, the IMF and the World Bank raised more than 150 billion dollars in a few months. Now they claim that they cannot afford to cancel the outstanding debt owed directly to them by the poorest countries, even though the debt is worth only 25–40 billion dollars. Rich countries like Denmark should not use aid funds to pay for debt cancellation by the World Bank and IMF, but should demand that the institutions themselves cancel the debt for the abortive loans. These views were stated by Bo Tovby Joergensen, campaign leader for Jubilee 2000 in Denmark.

With the demonstrations in Prague, Jubilee 2000 will also highlight the injustice of the IMF and the World Bank acting as judge, jury, and plaintiff when it comes to debt cancellation, which has an impact on more than 1 billion impoverished people.

The WTO, IMF, and World Bank have global influence, but they primarily look after the interests of the rich countries. We must do everything to correct this imbalance in “democracy,” says artist Jens Galschiot.

Jubilee 2000 believes that the media’s interest in potential violence during the demonstrations helps to create unnecessary fear and distract attention from the groups who, in a serious and non-violent manner, try to highlight important issues, such as the role of the IMF and the World Bank in creating and exacerbating the debt crisis of the developing countries. Serious, non-violent groups make up the vast majority of the demonstrators. Jubilee 2000’s events during the summit in Prague have been prepared in cooperation with the Czech authorities, the police, and local organizations.

The demonstrations will be held in Prague on Sunday 24 September and Tuesday 26 September. Jens Galschiot’s sculpture will be set up in Letna Park on the banks of the Moldau (Yltava).

For more information contact:

Jens Galschiot,
Art in Defense of Human Rights,
tel.: +45 6618 4058,
mobile in Prague: (+45) 2193 7041

Pictures of the preparations of the happening can be obtained from: www.aidoh.dk

More information on our sculptures in Prague is available on: http://www.aidoh.dk/art_and_events/messenger/ukmsg-index.htm