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Protest marches planned around Poland on martial law anniversary

PR dla Zagranicy
Roberto Galea 08.12.2016 12:59
Anti-government protesters say they plan to hold marches in over 50 Polish towns on the anniversary of the imposition of martial law in 1981.
KOD protesters demonstrating in Warsaw in December 2015. Photo: Facebook.com/Komitet Obrony DemokracjiKOD protesters demonstrating in Warsaw in December 2015. Photo: Facebook.com/Komitet Obrony Demokracji

The head of the Committee for the Defence of Democracy (KOD), Mateusz Kijowski, said there has been “strong interest” in participating in marches on 13 December, the 35th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by the country’s former communist regime.

“A majority of Poles declare they feel the need to participate in this demonstration. There is a very strong interest,” Kijowski told Polish Radio on Thursday.

Supporters of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which came to power late last year, say it is inappropriate for protests to be held on the date the communists cracked down on the Solidarity pro-democracy movement, the start of a dark chapter in modern Polish history.

International protest

KOD plans to protest against sweeping changes introduced by Law and Justice, including to the judiciary. Critics of the government argue the reforms have eroded democracy in Poland, a charge PiS has fiercely rejected.

On 13 December, protesters will convene in front of the PiS party's headquarters in Warsaw.

“In this way, we want to make a symbolical connection between 13 December 1981 and 13 December 2016,” Kijowski said.

He added: “Within just three days, the number of locations in Poland which will organise these marches increased from 37 to over 50. There are also a few cities outside Poland, so the interest is very high.”

Former Polish President Lech Wałęsa, as well as Grzegorz Schetyna and Ryszard Petru – leaders of opposition parties Civic Platform (PO) and Modern (Nowoczesna) – have signed a letter urging Poles to protest on 13 December.

Warning over ‘brawls’

Interior Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said that the protesters were aiming to cause social unrest.

The opposition intends to spark "brawls, which they believe are a means of regaining power,” Błaszczak said, adding that such tactics would not work. (rg/pk)

tags: kod
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