| Friday 4th April
2008 | Issue 627
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TAKING POLE POSITION
“We got rid of the 'brotherly' Russian army in 90s and we don’t want another one in its place.” - Polish anti-military campaigner.
Last Saturday saw the first big demo held in Poland against the US military setting up bases in the country – but it was the morning after the protest that police repression kicked in. Around 1000 demonstrated against the installation of a US missile base near Slupsk, northern Poland at a site due to hold up to ten silo-based long-range missile defence interceptors, part of the ‘Star Wars’ programme. The US are coming in with offers that the Polish govt can’t refuse – i.e. having US bases and buying US weaponry into the bargain.
The demo started with an open meeting outside the town hall, with speakers including veterans of World War II, and other locals equally against the US base in their backyard. The day was organised by the Polish Campaign Against Militarism – bringing together the Anarchist Federation, Greenpeace, the Union of Syndicalists, non-affiliated protesters and practically every other anarchist and anti-authoritarian group in Poland. Also out in force were the residents of Slupsk. The demonstration had a ‘No Logos’ rule to avoid political parties using the demo to advertise themselves, but that didn’t stop the Young Socialists trying to fly their flag. The demo then followed through the city, with samba bands, street theatre and vegan food by Food Not Bombs.
At the end of the street demo, around 100 peeled off and marched the four kilometres to the site of the future base at Redzikowo, a disused former Soviet base. Riot police were on the gates of the base, and many more arrived in numbers in helicopters and vans. Initially however they couldn’t find a reason why the protesters shouldn’t be there as there isn’t a base, and only threatened to arrest for not following police orders, not trespassing.
Demonstrators moved to the main gate to try and jump it, and police arrived with dogs. When most of the group left, those who remained were attacked by dogs – one woman was bitten, and police started fining protesters for various stupid offences like having a black flag on their car. One was arrested for ‘cursing’, and fined US$300.
The real reaction from the state began much later that night, after the post-demo techno party at a pub in Slupsk. At 5am Sunday, after police had followed people back to someone’s flat, they broke in – illegally without a warrant – and attacked people who were sleeping, under the pretext that they were ‘disturbing the night silence’. People were gassed and beaten with batons and a total of twenty three were nicked. One man’s arm was thought to be broken, and he was taken to hospital but escaped to alert others about the raid. Eight people were charged with ‘insulting police officers’ and ‘violating the untouchibility of police’ – a charge regularly used in Poland against people defending themselves against police attack. Fifteen people got fines for “disturbing the night silence”. After 12 hours of interrogation some were released, while the rest were held until 3pm on the Monday.
On Sunday at 1pm a group of 30 arrived at the police station where the arrestees were being held and staged protest, but it’s said that due to the media attention none were attacked. Slupsk’s cops are notorious for their brutality- soon is the 10th anniversary of the death of thirteen-year-old Przemek Czaja, killed by police on the street which ended in three days of riots. With news of the arrests getting out. spontaneous protests against police brutality took part in Torun and Olsztyn.
Public opinion in Poland against US military bases in the country is firmly against, despite the government propaganda campaign.
Last Friday and Saturday solidarity vigils were held for the Polish protests in Prague, Dublin, London, Hamburg, Moscow, Washington, and the US spy base at Fylingdales, North Yorkshire. In Berlin the Polish Embassy was targeted with spraypaint. There had been various actions all over Poland days before the protest such as fly posting, banner drops and leafleting.
* Legal support – financial help is required for the arrestees (about £700 for a solicitor) – email (in English/Polish) to firstname.lastname@example.org
* Email email@example.com.
* For info in English see www.m29.bzzz.net
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