Miners from 'Wujek' died for their country’s independence: President Duda

The miners from the 'Wujek' mine died for their country’s independence, President Andrzej Duda said in Katowice, south-west Poland, during the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the pacification of the 'Wujek' mine.

“It has to be said that, that blood was not wasted, looking at today's free, independent, sovereign Poland, which is growing in strength every year,” the President emphasised during the ceremony.

He pointed out that miners from the 'Wujek' mine died for an independent Poland. “That strike against the martial law, against the enslavement of Poles by the authorities, which stood against the entire nation, against the communists, was not only a strike of workers who expected better working conditions, wages and a dignified life. It was a strike for a free Poland that would be truly sovereign and independent,” the head of state stressed.

“They wanted freedom, solidarity, a guarantee of their rights and their observance. They wanted a dignified life in a much broader sense than just the material issue. And they died for that,” President Andrzej Duda concluded.

The ‘Wujek’ pacification was the greatest tragedy of martial law. The protest in this mine began at the news of the arrest of the head of the mine’s Solidarity union Jan Ludwiczak. Solidarity members and miners started a strike. On December 16, tanks crossed the mine wall, and armed ZOMO troops entered the plant to end the strike in the mine. After that, a special ZOMO platoon fired in the miner’s direction. Six miners died on the spot, one died several hours after the operation. Two more miners died from wounds at the beginning of January 1982.

In June 2008, the Court of Appeal in Katowice sentenced the former special platoon commander Romuald C. to six years in prison and sentenced thirteen of his subordinates to 3.5 to 4 years in prison. The cassation appeals were dismissed in 2009 by the Supreme Court - the judgment became final nearly 28 years after the tragedy.