PM, President mark Wujek coal pit massacre

Hanna Bardo/PAP

PM Mateusz Morawiecki on Monday in Katowice, southern Poland, commemorated the 38th anniversary of the December 1981 Wujek massacre, in which communist riot police killed nine protesting miners in the city's Wujek coal mine.

Speaking at the ceremony, Morawiecki said Poland reflected the staunch will of the Poles to fight for a better tomorrow, freedom and solidarity. He added that the Wujek killings destroyed the Poles' freedom dreams, inspired by the 1980-81 rise of the anti-communist Solidarity Union.

"On that memorable day on which the communist regime struck out at Solidarity, it struck out at our dreams for a free Poland. We say that that was when the Solidarity festival ended," Morawiecki said.

Morawiecki said that the Wujek miners opposed a heavily armed communist side with only pickaxes, chains and screws, but possessed the courage to fight for their dreams of a better tomorrow.

In a letter written for the occasion, President Andrzej Duda wrote that the events in the Wujek pit marked the communist regime's biggest crime during the martial law years, and was the site "of a huge sacrifice in the name of freedom and solidarity."

In his letter, Duda said that the Wujek riots broke out when Solidarity unionists stood up in defence of an arrested colleague, and gave rise to numerous protests in industrial plants countrywide.

"Let these commemorations strengthen our will to serve the Polish people and our values, thanks to which it has survived so many adversities," Duda wrote.

On December 16, 1981, three days after the imposition of martial law in Poland by the country's communist authorities, a strike in Katowice's Wujek coal mine was brutally suppressed by armoured riot police units. Nine miners were killed in the clashes.