Updated: Poland’s Independence Day celebrations marred by street riots
November 11, 2011
Twenty nine people, including several policemen, were taken to the hospital with injuries and more than two hundred people, including many Germans, were arrested as result of clashes between police and right-wing extremists during November 11events held in Warsaw to commemorate Poland's Independence Day.
Riots started in Konstytucji Square even before a march of several thousand people scheduled for 3 pm by the far-right and nationalist groups All-Polish Youth (Mlodziez Wszechpolska) and National-Radical Camp (Oboz Narodowo-Radykalny) began.
A rival peaceful demonstration called Colorful Independent group (Kolorowa Niepodlegla) organized by the left wing November 11 Agreement and other anti-fascist groups turned out to block the nationalist march.
The police cordon, which was keeping the nationalist and leftist demonstrators apart became the object of attacks. Cobblestones, firecrackers and glass bottles were thrown at the police who responded with pepper gas and water cannons.
According to PAP news agency, nationalist flags flew over the attacking crowd, as well as the national colors of Slovakia, Croatia and Serbia.
Rightist demonstrators destroyed several police vehicles and two television vans in a rampage.
The 11 November celebration marks the day in 1918 when Poland regained its independence, after 123 years of partitions by Austria, Prussia and Russia.
Organizers were expecting 60,000 people to take part in the events. Some of the participants came from Belgium, Germany, Serbia, Ukraine and Czech Republic.
Earlier in the day, President Bronislaw Komorowski called for a day free of aggression as he reviewed troops and laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during state ceremonies.
“Celebrate this patriotic occasion together, not against one another", Komorowski said speaking at the ceremony.