Appeal to Society and the Authorities of the PRL
The workers’ protests against the excessive price increases, which was an expression of the opinion of virtually the entire society, were followed by brutal persecutions. In Ursus, Radom, and in other cities, demonstrators have been beaten, kicked, and arrested en masse. Dismissals from work have been the most widespread form of reprisal; along with arrests, they struck with particular severity at the families of the persecuted.
As a rule, these reprisals have involved violations of the law on the part of government organs. The courts have issued verdicts without material evidence; and dismissals from work have violated the regulations of the Labor Code. Testimony has been extorted by means of force. Unfortunately, such procedures are not new in our country. It is enough to recall the illegal repressions used against the signatories of letters protesting against changes in the Constitution
, when people were thrown out of work, expelled from schools, illegally interrogated, or blackmailed. But it has been a long while since the repressions have been as massive and as brutal as in recent times. For the first time in many years, arrests and interrogations are now accompanied by physical terror.
The victims of the current repressions cannot count on any help or defense from those institutions whose mission it is to help and defend them, such as the trade unions
, whose role has been pathetic. Social welfare agencies also refuse their help. Given this situation, this function must be assumed by the society in the interest of which those who are now being persecuted were protesting against the price increases. Society has no other means of defense against lawlessness than solidarity and mutual aid.
For this reason, the signatories of this Appeal are forming a Workers’ Defense Committee which will initiate various forms of defense and help. Legal, financial, and medical aid is needed. Equally important is full information about the persecutions. We are convinced that only public presentations of the actions of the authorities can constitute an effective defense. This is why we are asking anyone who has been persecuted, or who knows about persecutions, to transmit this information to the members of the Committee.
According to information in the possession of the members of the Committee, 160 000 zlotys
have thus far been collected and used for purposes of aid. But the needs are much greater. Only a broad social initiative will be able to meet these needs. Wherever the repressed live, throughout the country, it is the responsibility of society to organize itself in order to defend them. In every social group, in every work-place, courageous people should be initiating collective relief actions.
The repressions used against the workers constitute violations of fundamental human rights recognized both by international law and by Polish law: the right to work, the right to strike, the right to express one’s opinions freely, and the right to participate in meetings and demonstrations. This is why the Committee is demanding amnesty for those arrested and convicted, and that all the persecuted be returned to their jobs. In making these demands, the Committee wishes to express its solidarity with the Resolution of the Conference of the Episcopate
of 9 September 1976.
The Committee calls on society to support these demands.
We are deeply convinced that by creating the Workers’ Defense Committee and initiating its activities, we are fulfilling a human and a patriotic responsibility and serving well the Fatherland, the Nation, and Mankind.
Source: Jan Józef Lipski, KOR — Workers’ Defence Committee in Poland 1976–1981, trans. Olga Amsterdamska and Gene M. More (Berkely, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1985).