A march organized by Civic Platform (PO) leader and former prime minister Donald Tusk, “against high prices, thievery, and lies, for free elections and a democratic, European Poland,” passed through the streets of Warsaw on Sunday – the 34th anniversary of the first partially free elections since the Second World War in 1989. It ended at Castle Square, where Tusk and Lech Walesa spoke. Organizers say half a million people took part in the march.
The event began at Na Rozdrożu Square at 12 p.m. Before the march began, speakers included Donald Tusk, Rafal Trzaskowski, and Lech Walesa.
“We are at high noon. Do not be afraid, no one will silence us today. There are thousands of us, with Poland in our hearts, PO leader Donald Tusk,” said in a speech at the start of the march
“I am looking here today, at the center of Warsaw, at the endless crowds of people who have come to manifest their anger, but also their hope. It’s been a long time since I’ve thought that the words “here is Poland” are so fitting for the place and time. Yes, here is Poland,” he said. – “This voice, this wave, will no longer be stopped by anything. The giant has awakened,” he said
As he said, “The first step to throwing off bondage is to be brave to be free, the first step to victory is to know your own strength.” – We are here today so that all of Poland, all of Europe, the whole world, so that everyone, can see how strong we are, how many of us are ready, just like then, forty, thirty years ago, to fight again for democracy, for Poland, for our rights,” he said.
Around 12.30, the march moved along the Royal Route towards the Castle Square. Along the way, politicians, local government officials, activists, and other invited guests spoke from the bus among the marchers. Leaders of other opposition parties also took part in the march
The crowd stretched along the entire route of the march. After 2 p.m., when the head of the march was already on Zamkowy Square, demonstrators were still starting from the place where it started.
Just before 3 p.m., the gathered people sang the national anthem on Zamkowy Square.
Half a million take part in one of the biggest opposition rallies in years
Shortly after, Donald Tusk appeared on the stage and gave the attendance figures. – “Today there are half a million of us on the streets of Warsaw. This is an absolute record,” said the PO leader.
According to the commentators, much more people than initially expected took to the streets due to the recent government actions, such as using Auschwitz footage in its political campaign and the establishment of the state commission on Russian influence in Poland, which initially had powers to exclude from public life individuals it finds guilty of colluding with Russia.
During his speech at the Castle Square in Warsaw, Tusk emphasized that today’s event signifies society’s opposition to the “authoritarian rule of Law and Justice (PiS)”.
“Why did half a million Poles take to the streets today? Because we feel that for years, Poland has been ruled by people who cannot love, and who take away our freedom bit by bit. We are here to show that since half a million people took to the streets, nothing will divide us, no one will destroy us,” he said.
“You have raised your voice for democracy today. So that it does not die, despite the daily attacks of PiS, Kaczyński, and the government, on its foundations. Democracy will not die, there will be no silence. We will shout loudly,” he added.
“As long as we have Poland in our hearts, no one and nothing will really threaten it. What does Poland mean in our hearts? Poland is freedom, Poland is solidarity, Poland is love – for this land, for your fellow Poles, for its history. There is no Poland without love, solidarity, and freedom,” said the head of PO.
The former prime minister, in the circumstances of the crowd, decided to take a solemn oath, which he himself called “Tusk’s oath”.
“I want to make a solemn oath here today. We are going to these elections in order to win, bring the guilty in front of justice, repair harm inflicted on people, and, consequently, reconcile Polish families. I vow to you. Victory, the reckoning of evil, compensation for harm, and reconciliation between Poles,” he promised.
“The evil characters in power, those who stole from, harmed us all, destroyed the public media, and made an attack on the Constitution. They will face justice,” he stressed.
Opposition march in Warsaw. Prime Minister: It makes me laugh a little
Members of the government also spoke about the event organized by the opposition. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated in his podcast that “he has nothing against the free manifestation views”. –
“This is the beauty of democracy, that everyone has this freedom and even those harsher forms of expressing these views, striking at the government, at what we do as a team of Law and Justice, also do not arouse any significant outrage of mine,” said the Prime Minister.
“It makes me laugh a little when old foxes, sitting in politics for many, many years, organize an anti-government march and present it as a spontaneous civil protest. I heard from local government officials how everything looks from the inside. A directive came from the PO headquarters that all their presidents and mayors should bring as many PO activists, employees of municipal companies, local government officials, etc. as possible,” said Morawiecki.
Government spokesman Piotr Müller stated in a Twitter post that “certain things don’t change”. – “31 years ago, Lech Wałęsa and Donald Tusk, under the cover of night, overthrew the government of Prime Minister Jan Olszewski, who was in favor of Polish membership in NATO and the EU. Today, the PO chairman and the former president are trying to overthrow the government that broke with the reset policy in relations with Russia,” he stressed.
According to the organizers, 500,000 people took part in the march. As PAP (Polish Press Agency) learned unofficially from sources close to the government-controlled police, between 100,000 and 150,000 people took part in the march. Official figures are still to be confirmed.
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