In connection with the 40th anniversary of the declaration of martial law in Poland, the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) has launched a social campaign "To victims of martial law. Turn on the Light of Freedom.”
For the 9th time, the IPN encourages all the Poles to take part in the action by lighting a candle in the window on December 13, 2021 at 19:30 local time, to express solidarity with the victims of martial law.
This year's action takes place under the auspices of the Polish President Andrzej Duda, on the centenary of regaining independence.
By this campaign, the IPN refers to the gesture of solidarity that masses of the inhabitants of the free world made towards Poles living under martial law on Christmas Eve 1981. Then, the US President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II called for symbolic lights to be placed in the windows.
On December 13, 1981, the communist authorities imposed martial law in Poland. The military took to the streets, as phone connections were cut off and the country’s borders were closed. Many activists of the oppositionist Solidarity trade union, including its leaders, were interned.
Those Solidarity activists who escaped imprisonment organised strikes that were ruthlessly and violently put down.
Most of them were imprisoned without charge, and as many as 91 people were killed. Martial Law was lifted two years later, in 1983, yet many political prisoners remained in jail until a general amnesty in 1986.