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Events commemorate deadly miners’ strike anniversary

PR dla Zagranicy
Roberto Galea 16.12.2016 19:06
Events around Poland on Friday marked the 35th anniversary of a crackdown by Communist authorities on a strike at the Wujek mine which saw the death of nine men.
Photo: Krzysztof Sitkowski / KPRPPhoto: Krzysztof Sitkowski / KPRP

A mass in the Holy Cross Church in Katowice, south-western Poland, started the commemorations on Friday afternoon. The ceremony was attended by President Andrzej Duda.

"The [Wujek] strike was one of the most notorious, and most tragic [events] in the history of Polish strikes," Duda said.

Among the participants of the mass, which was led by the Archbishop of Katowice, Wiktor Skworc, were family members of the miners killed on 16 December 1981.

Also in attendance were officials from political parties, trade unionists - including the head of the Solidarity trade union Piotr Duda - as well as local-government representatives.

Thirty-five years ago today, police and soldiers stormed the mine in Katowice, Silesia, in an attempt to break up a strike by workers.

Seven of the workers died on the spot, while two more died later from their wounds.

The miners had gone on strike on 13 December, the day that martial law was declared in Poland.

They demanded the release of all those that had been imprisoned, not least their own chairman, Jan Ludwiczak, a member of the Solidarity Trade Union, which was pushing for democratic reforms.

The strikers called for an end to martial law, which saw tanks out on the streets, telephone lines cut and a strict curfew introduced.

It was not until 2008, nineteen years after the fall of communism in Poland, that sentences were handed out for the shootings. The case had been drawn out over 15 years.

The sentences, upheld by the Supreme Court, were between three-and-a-half and six years in prison. (rg)

The [Wujek] strike was one of the most notorious, and most tragic in the history of Polish strikes.
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