4 Jun. — The “Everyone for Freedom” rally organised by the Committee for the Defence of Democracy (KOD) was held in Warsaw, the capital of Poland. Though intended initially against the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, it appealed to Europe and upbraided Russia.
The Committee for the Defence of Democracy was formed in November 2015 to combat what its members consider to be the PiS’s autocratic policies. Over the months since then, the organisation has regularly held protest demonstrations drawing tens of thousands of participants.
This time the rally had a special historical subtext. The demonstration was timed to coincide with the 27th anniversary of the first semi-free elections in contemporary Poland.
In the words of KOD leader Mateusz Kijowski, the march was not a party event but was organised entirely by the Committee. Even though many representatives of the parliamentary opposition joined in this time, including the Civic Platform, Democratic Left Alliance, and Modern parties – the demonstrators used very little party symbolism.
Participants carried national and European Union flags. As former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski – who moved along in the column together with former President Bronisław Komorowski and former Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz – noted, few colours go so well together as Polish and EU ones. “Polish patriotism and the European future are one; they do not exist on their own,” emphasised the politician.
Vice-Mayor of Warsaw Jarosław Jóźwiak estimated that 50 thousand people attended.
A message signed by prominent Polish politicians was read during the rally. It stressed the necessity of defending universal values and appealed not only to Poles but to all Europeans.
“We appeal to you from a country which has found itself in the unexpected plight of the most important values – democracy, supremacy of law, individual freedom – being under threat,” the message said. Among the challenges they mentioned were the increasing popularity of radical and populist parties, and growing fear and suspicions of immigrants. Russia even made it in the end. “The spectre of military aggression on the part of an imperialistic Russia is returning,” the message underscored.
In order to prevail in the face of these various challenges, the politicians called for solidarity within Poland as well as in Europe as a whole. “We, Europeans, must awake from our lethargy! To defend our values, our homeland, our common Europe!” concluded the signatories.