During the 40th anniversary of the introduction of Martial Law in Poland, President Andrzej Duda presented Centenary of Regained Independence medals to distinguished activists of the “Solidarity” trade union, participants of the democratic opposition in the Polish People’s Republic (PRL) and people who cherish the memory of the modern history of Poland.
“Today I bow my head deeply and say thank you, because I can congratulate my generation that it was lucky that the generation of their grandparents and parents won a free Poland for them,” the President said, addressing those awarded.
As he emphasised, “many people are still struggling with the trauma of losing a loved one back then.” He added that “the legacy of that system also remained,” pointing out that many of the decision-makers at that time had not been held accountable.
Andrzej Duda drew attention to the long-term impact of Martial Law on individuals, families and Polish society.
He also emphasised that the memory of the events that began in 1981 must be preserved and taught to children and adolescents.
“Thank you for remembering it, thank you to all the organisers of today’s celebrations and all the celebrations that will take place in the coming days. Thank you to all those who remember, because it must not be forgotten. Let heroes be called heroes and traitors called traitors,” he stressed.
The President also named general Wojciech Jaruzelski, who led the military junta that seized power after the introduction of martial law “a traitor.”
“On the 40th anniversary of the imposition of martial law we have to not only say but scream that Jaruzelski was a traitor to the Polish nation,” he stressed.
“Down with communism,” he concluded.
On the night of December 12-13, 1981, the communist authorities introduced Martial Law throughout Poland. Its purpose was to suppress the democratic changes initiated by the establishment of the Free Trade Unions “Solidarity” in August 1980.
The exact number of people who died as a result of its introduction is not known as the lists of victims range from several dozen to over a hundred.