Danish politicians have donned necklaces featuring 6,500 miniature skulls to raise awareness of Qatar’s migrant worker death toll in the decade-long lead-up to the World Cup.

Jens Galschiøt’s skull necklace. Photo: Jens Galschiøt.

Government data analysis by the Guardian last year showed that over 6,500 workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had died since Qatar won the right to the sporting event in 2011.

Jens Galschiøt’s skull necklace. Photo: Jens Galschiøt.

The “#Qatar6500” art event was devised by sculptor Jens Galschiøt, most famous for his Tiananmen crackdown Pillar of Shame, which the University of Hong Kong removed from its campus a year ago.

Jens Galschiøt’s skull necklace. Photo: Jens Galschiøt.

“The MPs are sending a strong signal. Their criticism of the creation of the World Cup in Qatar will resonate internationally and not least in Qatar,” Galschiøt said in a press release. “I suggest all national soccer teams to have a picture taken wearing the skull necklace.”

Jens Galschiøt’s skull necklace. Photo: Jens Galschiøt.

Galschiøt said he hoped a high-profile person would come forward to wear the necklace in Qatar.

Jens Galschiøt’s skull necklace. Photo: Jens Galschiøt.

Thirty members of Denmark’s parliament – including ex-ministers – took part.

The unique artwork was inspired by ancient Tibetan traditions that used human craniums in jewellery. Each handmade skull measures around 6 x 5 millimetres.

Jens Galschiøt’s skull necklace. Photo: Jens Galschiøt.

Hassan al-Thawadi, the secretary general of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for delivery and legacy, said last month that only 400-500 migrant workers died on World Cup-related projects. The government data compiled by the Guardian covers all migrant worker deaths over a decade.

The controversial World Cup ends on December 18.

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Tom Grundy

Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.