The 30th anniversary of the martial law imposition is commemorated in Poland. In Warsaw, approximately 3,000 people marched under leadership of the main opposition party to pay tribute and object current foreign policy. 13th December 2011
In many places around Poland the thirtieth anniversary of martial law imposition is commemorated today. The biggest events are taking place in Warsaw, where estimated three thousand people attended a march organised by the main opposition party, Law and Justice.
The martial law was imposed overnight from December 12 to 13, 1981. The then first secretary of the Polish United Workers' Party, general Wojciech Jaruzelski, introduced it officially to prevent Soviet military intervention caused by multiple workers' strikes in Poland. Almost 60 people are estimated to have been killed during or died as a result of the militia's brutality during the martial law and the validity of this political decision is questioned by historians. Total number of politically-related deaths exceeds 100 over the years 1981-1989, including the well-known case of brutally murdered priest Jerzy Popieluszko. Other tragic events include the pacification of "Wujek" coal mine on December 16, 1981, when nine miners were killed by the motorised militia (ZOMO). The martial law was suspended on December 31, 1982, and cancelled on July 22, 1983.
The commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary traditionally started with a demonstration in front of general Jaruzelski's home in Warsaw. At midnight about three hundred people, less than usually, lit lanterns and chanted, despite Jaruzelski being absent. He has been taken to hospital few days ago. His poor health caused his trial to be delayed, although few other high-ranked officials of the communist party are expected to be sentenced before the year's end for the martial law imposition.
During the day numerous reconstructions and outdoor exhibition took place in Warsaw, including one major at the Castle Square just next to the Old Town.
The major event was organised by the opposition Law and Justice party and was both a commemoration and a rejection of current foreign policy of Prime Minister Donald Tusk and his Foreign Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski. The latter gave a speech in Berlin recently in which he called for Germany to do more to save the European Union. The opposition branded this call as a renunciation of Polish sovereignty and urges Sikorski to step down.
Estimates had up to 20 thousand people attending the evening march, but according to the police only 3 thousand have come. They marched from the Three Crosses Square to the presidential residence Belweder. No incidents were recorded by the police, contrary to fears of many who anticipated clashes similar to those on November 11, when Warsaw was destroyed by rioting hooligans.
Upon arrival at the Belweder the opposition leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, gave a speech.
'Had we had a healthier state, we could have been burstling like China', he said. 'It is a disgrace, and a breach of constitution at the same time', added Kaczynski, referring to Sikorski's speech.
Participants of the march chanted, inter alia, 'Once with a siecle, once with a hammer, hit the red rabble' or 'Here is Poland'. Many opposition MPs were among the leaders of the crowd. Other opposition parties, including the conservative Solidarity Poland, criticised the idea of linking martial law commemoration with issues of current politics.
The march caused a traffic havoc as main roads in the city centre were blocked for few hours during the evening rush hour.