Polish court upholds Warsaw mayor’s ban on annual march by nationalists on Poland’s Independence Day
The November 11 march has attracted large numbers of participants in recent years, highlighting growing support for the far right in Poland and elsewhere. Nationalists from other countries are also traveling to Warsaw to participate, while the organizers received funds and other support from the right-wing Polish government.
Konstanty Radziwill, the governor of the Warsaw region and a member of the ruling Law and Justice party approved the march last week. But the Warsaw District Court ruled on Wednesday in favor of an appeal by Rafal Trzaskowski, the liberal mayor of the capital, who sought to ban this year’s march following violence a year ago.
The leader of the Independence March organization Robert Bakiewicz called the decision “shameful” and said his organization would appeal and “the march will take place”.
The national holiday of November 11 marks the time when Poland regained its sovereignty after the First World War.
It is only in recent years that nationalist groups have come in large numbers to overshadow the commemorations with marches that sometimes turned violent. Some participants have expressed white supremacist and anti-Semitic ideas in the past.
During last year’s march, police used tear gas and rubber bullets in clashes with far-right supporters. The march took place despite the ban on public gatherings due to the pandemic.
The right-wing Polish government promoted and even participated in the march and has shown tacit acceptance of far-right groups since taking power in 2015.
Two groups led by Bakiewicz, the Independence March Association and the National Guard, received 3 million zlotys ($ 755,000; 650,000 euros) in funds from a public body earlier this year.
The groups received grants from the Patriot Fund, managed by the Roman Dmowski and Ignacy Jan Paderewski Institute for the Heritage of National Thought, which depends on the Ministry of Culture.