Peaceful Demo. in Poland Against US Missile Base Ends In Police Brutality
On Saturday March 29th over 700 people attended a protest at noon in the city of Slupsk, Northern Poland, against the Polish government's plans to permit the construction of a US missile base, part of their notorious 'Star Wars' program. On Friday and Saturday solidarity vigils were held with Polish activists in Prague, Dublin, London, Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig, Moscow, Washington and the U.S. spy base at Fylingdales in England.
The demonstration was organised by a wide range of Polish anarchist groups working together as the Polish Campaign Against Militarism. A variety of representatives from other political groups and anti-militarist campaigns attended the demonstration. The 'No Logo' guideline helped keep focus on participants opposition to the missile base and avoided a space which merely provided a marketing opportunity for political parties to promote themselves.
It was the first time a manifestation was held at the potential site for the U.S. government's missile defence program in Poland, where they intend to have 10 ground based interceptors costing billions of dollars. In return, the Polish government are requesting the U.S. help modernise the Polish army to the tune of $20 billion by 2015.
A recent poll conducted amongst residents of Slupsk city established that 60% of residents are against the proposed missile base and that 87% demand a referendum on the issue. The opposition level is similar throughout Poland. An agreement may be signed between both governments as early as June, construction would most likely occur from January 2009 and be completed by 2013.
Approximately 200 local residents listened and participated in a 'Hyde Park' public debate by the town hall while a 'No Missile Shield' newspaper was distributed outlining the arguments against the missile base and increased militarisation. The speakers included Australian Ciaron O'Reilly who has spent over 2 years in U.S., Australian and Irish jails fighting for peace and justice by nonviolently disabling military equipment. A large majority of locals who spoke from the platform and were in attendance were opposed to the missile shield.
The Food Not Bombs group kept participants strong and healthy with delicious vegetarian food.
Two excellent samba bands from Gdansk and Poznan and a street theatre group from Torun and Slupsk led the demonstrators through the streets after the public discussion has concluded. Placards had slogans including, 'We don't want to be a missile shield for the U.S.', 'No Shield, No War, We are for Peace', while participants chanted and danced around the city centre. It attracted a lot of attention and many local residents, both young and old, joined in.
At the end of the demonstration 100 people marched 4km from Slupsk to the ex-soviet military base next to the town of Redzikowo and likely site for U.S. weapons. Riot police blocked participants entrance and forced them from the area, which is currently a disused Polish military property undergoing.
The demonstration finished in Redzikowo town at 4.30pm where demonstrators had positive interactions with local residents, despite the bad weather. The reception we received bodes well for future co-operation. Appeals were made at a military barracks for Polish soldiers to stop fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq and to resist defending the violent interests of the rich and powerful arms companies and politicians against their peaceful fellow citizens.
Police repression and revenge against activists
At 6am, on Sunday morning after the demonstration, police violently broke their way into an apartment in Slupsk, arresting 23 anti-missile defence activists under the pretext that they were disturbing the 'night silence'. They used tear gas and batons, forcing their way into the apartment and beating the 18-25 year old peace activists staying there. One person had his arm broken.
By noon on Sunday, 30 protestors had gathered outside the police station where the anti-militarist activists were being detained. The police are accusing some of the arrested of unethical force against a police officer and disturbing the peace. It remains to be seen whether the injured activists will bring charges against the police officers for their brutal revenge on those opposed to the U.S. missile base. Those present at the apartment during the police assault have stated that the police version of events is not true.
At 8pm Sunday 13 remained in police custody. They are due to be released by 3pm tomorrow. activists are due to be released
Funds to support the repressed activists and the Campaign Against Militarism would be gratefully appreciated. If you want to donate to support the efforts to stop the construction of the missile base in Poland you can do so by transferring your donation to this account:
(PL) 05 1140 2004 0000 3702 4238 2269
BRE Bank S.A. Retail Banking, al. Mickiewicza 10, 90-050 Łódź
SORT CODE: 11402004
Write "Against the Missile Shield" for general campaign support.
Write "For Repressed Activists" to support those currently arrested.
Photos of demonstration
Polish Campaign Against Militarism
English Contacts: 0048607340093