A march of nationalist groups in Warsaw turns into a battle. More than 300 people are arrested and many injured.
WARSAW taz | The nationalist organizers of the Polish “independence march” had announced a peaceful car and motorcycle parade for Wednesday. But it turned into a radical right-wing riot with the police. While thousands of demonstrators threw stones, bottles and fireworks at the police officers, they defended themselves with tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets. Ambulances transported the injured from the “battlefield”, including 35 police officers.
In the blood-red smoke of fireworks and Bengal flares, one of the demonstrators also fired a rocket into an apartment and set it on fire. As the police later announced, the attacker wanted to hit the apartment two floors higher, from whose balcony a widely visible rainbow flag of gays and lesbians fluttered as well as a second one with the red lightning symbol of the feminist movement “women’s strike”.
The march was not only intended to commemorate the end of the First World War in 1918 and the re-establishment of the Polish state. Rather, the nationalist organizers wanted to show their colors politically.
While in the past it was mostly racist and anti-EU slogans that were shouted on the march and read on banners, this year thousands of young men (and a few hundred women) ran after a slogan from the Catholic Church and the national populist government : “Our civilization – our principles”.
Called to renounce
Two years ago, on the 100th anniversary of regaining independence, members of the ruling national populist party Law and Justice (PiS) and Poland’s President Andrzej Duda led the march. This year they referred to the corona exemptions and called for the march to be canceled to protect the health of many people.
Police arrested more than 300 people, including 36 related to crime. Whether Robert Bakiewicz, one of the organizers of the illegal march, will also have to answer in court is still open.
Only a week ago, the pro-government postil “Sieci” celebrated him as a hero on its front page “Let’s defend our churches”. On the cover of the Bakiewicz T-shirt, a hand raised into a fist could be seen clutching a rosary like a brass knuckle. A “feminist horde of left-wing rags” demonstrated behind him. This is how Poland’s rights like to refer to those Polish women who have been protesting for weeks against a ruling by the Constitutional Court aimed at introducing an almost total ban on abortion in Poland.
When bishops and priests profusely thanked the national populists for the abortion ruling from the PiS, the PiS government and the Constitutional Court controlled by the PiS, some women strike demonstrators stormed 22 churches and explained to priests and believers what they were about during the service went. Other protesters sprayed women’s emergency numbers and the red lightning bolt across Poland – the symbol of the women’s strike “Attention! High voltage! ”- on the walls of houses, including the facades of around 70 churches.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the party leader of the national populists and recently also vice premier, turned the few cases into “attacks on the churches” and an “attack on Poland”. He publicly called for the protection of Catholic churches across the country. Thereupon Bakiewicz and his followers founded the “National Vigilante Defense”, which now has tens of thousands of members and is ready to defend Poland’s churches all over the country against “feminists and barbarians”.
However, the women, who in the past few days only met “spontaneously” and five for a “walk” in accordance with the Corona exception rules, had imposed a “quarantine from nationalism” for Independence Day and asked them to be at home that day to stay. If you wanted, you could clean the internet of nationalist and neo-fascist entries on Independence Day.
Most of the demonstrators in the last few days stuck to it. It was thus possible to avoid a clash between the two groups and further excesses by the nationalists. Poland’s Catholic Church, however, will not get rid of the shouting “defenders of the fatherland, God and honor” in front of the church entrances anytime soon.