Warsaw honours anti-communist dissidents, communism victims

Leszek Szymański/PAP

Poland's onetime anti-communist opposition and the communist era's political victims were honoured in a Saturday ceremony at Warsaw's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Letters on the occasion were sent by President Andrzej Duda and PM Mateusz Morawiecki.

In his letter, Duda wrote that he felt deep respect for all who had the courage to oppose the communist regime, and reminded that their efforts paved Poland's path to freedom and the 1989 partly free elections which ousted the communists from power.

"I bow my head before the heroism of all those who had the courage to stand up to the communist regime. I hereby pay homage to your persevering faith and hope, which brought a historic victory for Poland and the Poles. There is no doubt that 1989 was a breakthrough year for our country, a breakthrough attained thanks to the determination of whole generations of oppositionists. You often had to pay a high price for your involvement, for which you were exposed to persecution, beatings, internment, interrogation, unemployment, intimidation, and other forms of repression," Duda wrote.

Morawiecki reminded that the ceremony, part of a simultaneous 1st National Congress of Anticommunist Opposition Activists and Persons Repressed on Political Grounds, was taking place on the 38th anniversary of the Polish communist government's December 13 1981 imposition of martial law in the country.

"On December 13 1981 the communist system once more showed its totalitarian countenance. Today's 1st National Congress of Anticommunist Opposition Activists and Persons Repressed on Political Grounds is a meeting of people who stood up to an unequal battle with the system (...). The price for your courage was high, sometime the highest. From broken careers and foiled life plans, through emigration to family dramas and health problems. This was the thorny path of the anti-communist opposition," the PM wrote in his letter.

The observations at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were preceded by a wreath-laying ceremony at the tomb of Jerzy Popieluszko, a Catholic priest involved in the anti-communist opposition, who was killed by communist security police in 1984.