Organizing against the Radical Right in Poland
poland / czech / slovakia |
Sunday May 21, 2006 15:57 by Laure Akai - Anarchist Federation - FA Praga
Anarchists and Students Protest
When the Kaczynski twins were elected to run the country, they promised to create a Fourth Republic which would include "decommunization", purges and adherence to extreme Catholic values. The screws are now tightening and people are fighting back.
Anarchist Version of Students' Initiative Logo
Students' Initiative (SI) was a project started by young people from the Anarchist Federation in Szczecin which then spread to Warsaw, Krakow, Katowice, Lodz... It was made up of primarily high school students although a few university students are involved. While these groups were originally started by FA people, some of them have grown to include non-anarchists as well. They publish the bulletin "Buntowik" or "the Rebel".
SI was discussing ideas of libertarian education but also reacting to the fact that there are growing repressive elements in the schools. One issue which concerned the students is religion in schools. Religion is schools is not new; it was actually introduced by the left government that now pretends to be against it. It is theorectically "optional" and a person can choose to study ethics instead, except they aint teaching Kropotkin; the ethics books on the syllabus are by and large written by people connected to the church, Pope John Paul, members of Opus Dei, etc. - in other words, it's hidden religion.
The students all got a taste of the 4th Republic when a document from the Minister of Education was leaked and published on our web pages. The Minister warned teachers and directors of schools against letting the students organize certain types of events or invite certain organizations to the schools; in particular they noted the anti-war and ecological movements. In short, the Minister warned that these things perverted the minds of young people and their patriotic education.
A number of high-profile incidents then happened.
First, the administrator of the server where most of the anarchist pages are, an ecological activist most recently related to the Green Party, was arrested on tumped up kiddie porn charges. The charges were obviously bogus and they claimed that he had downloaded kiddie porn on his home computer at a time when he wasn't even in the country. He had been running a program in schools to organize ecological awareness trips with school children. Of course he cannot do this anymore even though he was released and the charges were false.
Second, a nationwide first aid program organized by the people who hold a yearly charity concert to collect money for children's hospital equipment (which has donated millions of dollars in the past years) was also cancelled because the person who organized this also organized a rock festival and the ultra-Catholic media decided that rock was the devil's music. The ultra-Catholics were against the influence this man had on young people. (The charity event takes place each year because tens of thousands of teenagers volunteer for it.)
Third, one of the organizers of the Campaign against Homofobia, who had been invited to a school in Warsaw was then banned from coming.
The students were beginning to see what the 4th Republic was going to look like, so they decided to hold a demonstration and demand that the Minister be fired and that schools belong to students. On the day before the demo though, the situation went from bad to worse: the then-Minister was replaced by the far-right leader of the League of Polish Families, Roman Giertych.
For international readers who don't know who it is, Giertych is from a long line of nationalists; his grandfather and father were also fanatics. His grandfather was a famous anti-semite politician and ideologue. Giertych reactivated a group, MW, which was active before WWII and notariously organized the boycott of the Jews. MW is an extreme nationalist group which had included many skinheads, although now they prefer people wear suits. They are famous for throwing rocks and eggs at gay parades and attacking the Woman on Waves project.
Even in this Catholic and conservative country, most people cannot imagine such a Minister of Education. So the demo organized on March 6 took on new significance and became important national news. Since then, a wave of demos in many cities around the country have taken place drawing crowds of up to 1-2 thousand people. (No, this is not France with 10s of thousands of students on the streets but such crowds are rare here.)
Mr. Giertych's reaction, and the reaction of his number two man, Wierzejski (a former skinhead, even worse than Giertych) was that these demos were organized by either the former ruling coalition or by gays, who are, in the words of Wierzejski, all pedafiles anyway. A number of ridiculous, fear-mongering statements were made about these demos to scare people away, in particular making people think that they were part of some international pedaphile conspiracy. (I could not make this up. Even on the last demo you had some strange men yelling that we are pedaphiles.) In a very perverted twist of logic, Wierzejski then sent a letter to the state prosecutor and Minister of Internal Affairs (which we also got and published) asking then to investigate the demonstrations (brutal attacks on Mr. Giertych). The letter claimed that the homosexuals are trying to spread deviance in the schools, that most of them are pedaphiles and connected with a drug mafia!!! He asked them to investigate, including giving information as to their funding.
Already an answer came that the Campaign Against Homophobia had received a grant from the UE to conduct a workshop on gender. Giertych made some hysteria related to that, and the gender workshop turned into some conspiracy to get people to get sex-change operations or become gay and the legally-funded and approved workshop became a scandal. Giertych promised that a gender workshop would never happen again in Polish schools. He had also previously promised that there would never be sex education or any of this deviance. What then does he want.
He calls it "patriotic" education. But patriotism a la Giertych is the quasi-fascistic, anti-semitic ideas of Roman Dmowski and it's ultra-Catholicism.
The SI keeps protesting, but the demo on May 20 was only a few hundred people. It's not clear whether people are frightened and disinformed due to the constant attacks or whether it was just the pouring rain but tellingly, during the last demo, people on the street were literally applauding the demo; the reaction of the crowds was more reserved this week. It's awful to think of, but it may actually be that people actually cannot filter out right-wing hysteria and disinformation from reality.
The people were especially lively and angry at the demo on May 20 because a few days earlier, a local man was stabbed by neo-nazis and was nearly killed. He was a victim of Blood and Honor's Redwatch, which keeps info on people on their internet hit list. It looks as if we are about to have more serious problems with fascists now that they feel that government is on their side.
(Anarchists are collecting money for medical expenses. Contact author for info.)
On May 20, a demo was also held in Bialystok. The very good news about this demo was that somehow the authorities had legally registered the anarchist demo for the same time and almost the same place as a MW demo. (MW is trying to organize pro-Giertych rallies around Poland in response.) However, the organizers of the rally, understanding that they can never draw more than 30 people whereas Bialystok anarchists could be a few hundred, actually decided to cancel the rally.
However in some cities with less anarchist presence, even 20 or 30 MW presented a problem. We know that in Rzeszow, with only a handful of anarchists, one comrade was beaten.
So the SI is determined to keep fighting. The next big action for anarchists will be the gay parade in Warsaw on June 10. For the last two years, the parade as been repressed but people held it anyway as acts of civil disobedience. MW and NOP (a fascist group) have attacked it in the past, even throwing stones at people, and this year they will be joined by fascists ONR, pissed off because anarchists in Warsaw attacked their march with eggs in April. Of course, again pressing the limits of total absurdity, NOP claims that the gays have paramilitary stormtroopers from Germany who, like the nazis will invade Poland and MP Wierzejski says that anybody coming to the parade should be beaten. Anarchists will have a blok but also organize some protection for the parade.
To view some pictures of protests or keep updated, you can go to the English section of the Anarchist Information Center webpage: