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POLAND

The Battle of Poznan:  A Gay Suspect’s View of the Poznan Events

 

Unedited "Inedependent" video
of the action of the riot police in
Poznań from Indymedial.pl.

Note: this is is a 30mb file and runs for 6 minutes

“They're driving me to a police station.  Love you, call you later.”

By Tomasz Szypula
Translated by Marcin Sobczyk

 
Tomasz Szypula
 

WARSAW, November 21, 2005  —  I am 25.  I was born four months before the Solidarity began its revolution in August 1980.  The only Poland I can remember is time after 1989.  The time of democracy – at least until last Saturday.
 

 


 

On the morning of Saturday, Nov. 19, I arrived in Poznań to take part in a conference and the Equality March.  Already on Friday I learned that the leftist voivode, or a central government representative, agreed with the mayor of Poznań and upheld his ban of the march.

But I had confidence in the Constitution, the EU laws—for sure the police would protect us.

There were some 100 people at the conference, university students, mainly girls.  Most of them had no affiliation, while the rest were feminists from the Konsola Women Association, the Greens 2004 activists, several people from gay organizations from all over Poland.

We’re talking about exclusion of not only gays and lesbians, but news media and politicians referred to the Days of Equality as “the Gay Parade.”

 
■  “Eggs begin to fly.  I get one on the ear. I wipe it off.  The ear hurts a little, but it’s nothing...”
(photo: KPH/Wiktor Marszalek)
 

At 3 p.m., we’re walking out of the Bookarest bookstore and we’re going down the Polwiejska Street.  We’re just several hundred meters away from the Old Market Square.

There may be several hundred of us.  Maybe three, maybe five hundred.  After just several minutes the police stand in our way, both in front of us and behind us as well.  We’re surrounded and can’t move.

We’re shouting: “Let us through! Freedom! Equality! Tolerance!”  The people behind the police officers yell: “Faggot! Perverts!”  Eggs begin to fly.  I get one on the ear. I wipe it off.  The ear hurts a little, but it's nothing — I continue: “Tolerance!”

After a moment we realize that the police will not let us go anywhere.  So we begin walking around between the police cordons and shout: “Democracy all around!”

After half an hour of walking like that, waving rainbow flags, and shouting “Equal, but different,” we take out candles and light them.  Several hundred people hold the candles and shout: “This is a funeral of democracy.”

After a moment, the girls who lead this demonstration enter a podium and begin thanking people for coming to the march. We’re all wondering how to get out.

And that’s when it began.

Someone shouted: “On the ground!”  I turn around and see disguised police officers with shields, running to get us.  I grab my friends and we all sit on the street.  The policeman tries to pull a girl out of the crowd.

   

She’s screaming, but the guy is two meters tall and she gives up.  I’m holding on to the other people and then a disguised police guy grabs my leg.  Someone's holding me, but he's trying to pull me out.  He’s shoving me around on the street and I say: “Let me go!”

When I get up, the police office grabs my hands, takes them behind me, and pushes me in the direction of a car. I’m scared.

There’s some eight people at the prison van.  “Name!” the police officer wants to know.  “Szypula,” I'm trying to answer.  The girl next to me is weeping.  Another one is vomiting.

The crying one bursts out in tears.  I hold her, her name is Dabrowka. “Don't worry, they won’t do anything to us,” I say.

Dabrowka is 20 and she was at the march with her sister, who was also detained. They’re both college students who came to show their solidarity with the march.

They’re speeding us to the police station, the siren’s on.  There are some nine people in the van.  I call my boyfriend and say: “They're driving me to a police station.  Love you, call you later.”

A dread-haired guy turns pale.  We stop, the door opens.  The police officer reads out our names.  We’re taken to the third floor.  There are 22 people in the room, including us.

I don't know where I am.  Somebody from Poznań looks out the window and says that it’s the Poznań-New City police station.  The pale dread-haired guy asks for water.

During the interrogation, I learn I’m suspected of breaking Article 50 of the Misdemeanors Code.  I reply that I don’t understand.  The policewoman answers: “taking part in an illegal concourse.”

She’s asking me how I plead to the charge.  I can’t stand it any longer: “What about the Constitution, what about the EU laws, what about the freedom of gathering?”  She replies that it’s her job.

A phone interrupts the interrogation, it’s her boyfriend on the phone.  “Honey, we won’t make it to the movies — I still need to hear from six of them,” she says.

I’m angry.  I plead not guilty.  I’m starting a speech about the Constitution blah blah, the EU blah blah, citizens’ rights.

She writes it all down unemotionally.

I sign in the box that states “Suspect”.  I get out of the station.  I feel horrible.  I wonder what is less horrible — to be beaten by a far-right fanatic All-Polish Youth or to go through the police procedure.

I think I prefer to get a beating.

I get back to the Old Town.  At Café Miesna, there’s a concert going on as part of the Days of Equality.  We share our stories with other demonstrators.  My friends were taken to a different station.  We try to calm down.

Seven brave girls my age organized this march.  It wasn’t a gay demo, and there were more girls there.  But the mayor, the voivode, and bishop concluded that we posed a threat.

The police treated as like they treat football hooligans.  If that’s the beginning of the New Republic as Law and Justice Party politicians say, then yes, we’re a big danger to it.

… Because we believe in democracy.

■  Tomasz Szypula is secretary general of KPH (Campaign Against Homophobia) in Warsaw

 
(photo: KPH/Wiktor Marszalek)
 

■ more photographs taken in Poznań on Saturday can be found at:
 http://zycie-jakmuzyka.blogspot.com/2005/11/marszgorzka-lekcja-dkracji.html

VIDEO

Video report from TVP2 (3mb file - not streaming)
Unedited "independent" video from Indymedia.pl.

AUDIO

Mayor of Poznań Bans Gay Pride ParadeAudio report (MP3) by Radio Polonia's Michal Kubicki (Radio Polonia, November 18, 2005)

SEE ALSO

Poznan Update: Dramatic Video Footage Shows Extent of Police Violence During Gay Demo.  London Protest Set for Thursday.  ILGA-Europe Protests to Barroso. Dramatic – and unedited – video footage of the problems in Poznan has been released by Indymedia.pl. (UK Gay News, November 22, 2005)

Please Help Us – Polish Gays Call to Europe.  An impassioned plea has come from many gays in Poland today in the wake of the heavy-handed action of the riot police in Poznań on Saturday when more than 60 people were arrested during a peaceful demonstration.  The message was simple:  “Please help us”. (UK Gay News, November 19, 2005)

Today’s Gay March in Poznań Now Legally Banned.  The March of Equality and Tolerance, dubbed ‘Gay Pride’, due to be staged in Poznan, western Poland, this afternoon (Saturday) has been officially banned. (UK Gay News, November 19, 2005)

Polish City Bans Gay March for Security Reasons, by Marcin Sobczyk in Warsaw.  The mayor of Poznań, a metropolitan city in western Poland, banned a gay parade on Tuesday, Nov. 15.  The Poznań march, expected to gather some 500 demonstrators, was supposed to take place on Nov. 19 as part of the Days of Equality and Tolerance in Poznań, organized by leftist, ecological, and feminist groupings. (UK Gay News, November 16, 2005)

UK Gay News has many articles on Poland.  These can be accessed through the search engine on the main Archive page

LINKS

Campaign Against Homophobia Poland website (in English)
Radio Polonia website (in English)
Polskie Radio website (in Polish)
Warsaw Independent website

 

 

 

 

 

Posted: 21 November 2005 at 18:00 (UK time)

 

 

 

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