Walesa vs. martial law: Will he defy generals?
On the eve of a sensitive day in Gdansk, it seemed certain Polish military authorities had no intention of allowing Lech Walesa to address workers at the shipyard's memorial to protesters slain in 1970.Skip to next paragraph
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From his home in the port city, the former Solidarity leader was known to be resolved to go ahead with his plan to attend the public meeting Thursday.
In a text purported to be the speech Mr. Walesa proposed to make, he reaffirmed a qualified readiness to work with the authorities for a national accord through free trade unions based on democratic statutes and disavowed any wish to contest the ''political realities'' embodied within the Soviet alliance.
But the text also dwelt on the past and the more recent events of the Solidarity period in emotive terms the authorities would be bound to regard as a provocative political challenge.
On the official side, there was complete silence. But a few days previously a government spokesman reminded foreign journalists that:
* Martial law is not yet suspended though it will be curtailed by the end of the year.
* Under martial law, public gatherings are forbidden except with special authorization, and none had been requested.
* Any meeting, therefore, would be illegal and would be proceeded against by the security authorities regardless of the identity of the person or persons organizing it.
Today's occasion is the anniversary of the Dec. 16, 1970, shooting in which some scores of workers - the total has never been established satisfactorily - were killed by security force bullets in the Baltic ports of Szczecin, Gdansk, and Gdynia.
A decade of bitter feeling was to some extent assuaged in December 1980 when dockmen and shipyard workers were allowed to erect memorials to their fallen comrades. Outside the Gdansk yard, Walesa, chairman of the new Solidarity union, stood with the regional authorities to unveil a towering anchor-topped monument and deliver a hopeful ''never again'' speech as a result of the new social agreements.
There was no observance last year because martial law had already fallen on Poland.
Wednesday morning there was a brief official ceremony at the memorial conducted by the chairman of the Gdansk branch of Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski's newly created Patriotic Movement for National Revival and attended by two small groups of workers from the shipyard.
Among a stream of conflicting reports Wednesday was one that Walesa had been advised by the authorities that he should stay home and warned of the consequences of trying to address an illegal meeting.
Telephone calls to the Walesa household were being taken by a man who was presumed to be a friend and supporter of the outlawed Solidarity union. This source declined to confirm reports of any warning.
He said categorically, however, that Mr. Walesa had that afternoon received a summons to report to the public prosecutor's office but that it came too late for him to comply within the stated time Wednesday. He had had no other official contacts, it was said.
''He plans to go ahead with his meeting tomorrow (Thursday),'' the source said. ''He promised the workers and his supporters he will meet them at the memorial, and he will stick to his word and turn up at the monument about 3 p.m.''