Anti-war demonstration in Warsaw, Poland: Big thirst for ideas as the movement develops

As the war broke out also in Poland we've witnessed a quite spontaneous demonstration in front of the American Embassy. The preparation for the demo was organized quite badly: you couldn't see any posters on the streets, no gatherings at schools or in the factories were organized to explain the nature of the present war with Iraq. Nevertheless what has to be stressed is that the people in Poland are deeply shocked by the conduct of Bush & Co., and also the servile attitude of the Polish government to their plans. Recently published polls show that 62 per cent of Poles oppose war and as much as 75 per cent do not accept sending Polish troops to fight in Iraq. In spite of all this the Polish government behaves as if it were a puppet of the Bush administration. It is one of the four nations which have sent soldiers to the battlefield. They have spent millions of zlotys for the so-called "war on terror" while at the same time we are told that there is no money for education and health services. It should be said that the war with Iraq has become a heated topic: people discuss this on the streets, at schools, in the workplaces… This once again proves that the long apathy of Polish society which followed on after the brutal clash with capitalist reality has definitely come to an end.

The demonstration was not a spectacular success. About 1,000 people attended. This however is not to be considered a disaster considering Polish conditions. Marxists were also present at that demo. The most striking feature which could be noted is that people on the demo were eager to get documents describing the real situation concerning Iraq. They are really disgusted by the propaganda of the official media. That is why our material became very popular. Also we noticed an increase of the visits to our website, especially to the documents covering the present conflict with Iraq.

Unfortunately there were hard clashes with the police. When the demonstrators decided to march through the street in front of the Embassy and then have a sit-in, the police used this as an excuse to launch an outrageous attack on the demonstrators. Around thirty people were detained (including one Member of Parliament) and many more were beaten with batons, among them one pensioner. A pernicious role was played by the university authorities who decided to close the university gates so that students could not hide there from the police. This shows that the Polish ruling class fears that the protest actions could undermine their plans regarding the war. They want to strengthen their links with America and hope to obtain some kind of help from them, which would enable the Polish ruling class to get out of the enormous economic crisis which Poland is now suffering.

New protests and events are now being prepared. What is however needed is an organizational expression of the movement. There is no doubt that had there been a proper campaign, the attendance at today's demo would have been five or even ten times bigger. There must be a campaign to set up committees against the war in every school and workplace, coordinated at local and national scale, which would democratically develop a plan of struggle against the war. Only in this way can we hope to stop the Polish involvement in the war.