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Police take disproportionate action at peaceful march in Katowice

March For Climate at COP2

We’ve received information that you might be bringing dangerous items into Katowice. Please step out of the bus and leave your bags inside, we will now search through them– those were the words that citizens from Warsaw and Wroclaw heard on their way to the March for Climate, planned to start midday on Saturday the 8th of December. The bus from Warsaw was held up for over 90 minutes. Needless to say, no dangerous items were found, but consequently many people didn’t arrive on time for the start of the march.

We are very disappointed by the actions of the police, who repeatedly stalled and thwarted our event. Our guests – both from Poland and abroad – were held up, searched, and even denied entry into Katowice. Allegations were based on absurd reasons.” – said Ewa Sufin-Jacquemart, one of the organisers of the March for Climate.

Towards the end of this peaceful gathering, without warning and with no reason given, police at the back of the march charged in and grabbed three men out of the crowd. The men, who were detained for four hours, were subsequently accused of attacking the police an event which is dismissed by numerous witnesses. Another man was pushed onto the ground – his clothes ripped off his body – and kept half-naked in the December cold. The police, despite being asked, gave no grounds for the illegal detention.

Let me emphasise: police in heavy riot gear ran into the group of peaceful marchers who took part in a legal and well organised event– said Wojciech Szymalski, one of the organisers of the march.

The high numbers of police, with their guns and tear gas was unnecessary, compared to the number of participants especially when juxtaposed against the positive, peaceful, picnic-like atmosphere at the march” – added Igor Skorzybot, one of the organisers.

The objective of March for Climate, which attracted over three thousand participants in Katowice and other cities of Poland, is simple, but critical. We gathered to appeal to politicians across the world for immediate action to prevent catastrophic climate change on this planet. The positive message of the march is captured within the March for Climate Manifesto.

Based upon evidence presented to us, we believe that the police, rather than behaving as enforcers of the law, acted with pre-meditation to negatively affect the outcome of this peaceful march, attended by citizens who care about our common future.” – said Radoslaw Gawlik, co-organiser.

We want to pass on the following message to all – both officially and unofficially responsible for the direction our country has taken an example of which was witnessed on Saturday:

You are trying to disrupt our marches, our freedom of speech and our democracy. Your actions are accelerating the demise of our environment and affecting human health for generations to come. Yet you appear oblivious to these facts. However, we believe in the wisdom of our people. Those same people, who are being impacted by the consequences of your choices: die prematurely from air pollution or descend into poverty. Those same people who are also concerned about the future of their children and grandchildren. Its for them, and with them, that we will continue our March for Climate – from today, and every day onwards. You have tried to stall our March. You will not stall our fight for the environment, the climate, and for the future of our people.

Signed by the organisers of the March for Climate:

Ewa Sufin-Jacquemart, Fundacja Strefa Zieleni

Wojciech Szymalski, Instytut na rzecz Ekorozwoju

Maciej Smykowski, Fundacja Piaskowy Smok

Igor Skórzybut i Joanna Górska, Stowarzyszenie Ostra Zieleń

Paulina Lota, Fundacja Kuźnia Kampanierów

Rafał Górski, Instytut Spraw Obywatelskich INSPRO

Radosław Gawlik, Stowarzyszenie Ekologiczne EKO-UNIA

Press release

Monday 10th December 2018

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