30th Anniversary of Martial Law
13 December 2011
13 December marks the 30th anniversary of martial law in Poland. The government of the People’s Republic of Poland imposed martial from December 13, 1981 to July 22, 1983 in reaction to political opposition and agitation from the worker’s union Solidarność, led by Lech Wałęsa.
During this time, activists for the opposition were interned without charges, pro-democracy movements such as Solidarność were banned, borders were sealed, telephone and postal communications were disrupted, a strict curfew was enforced and all independent organizations were prohibited. According to a study conducted by the Instytut Pamięci Narodowej in 2006, 56 people were killed during police crackdowns on demonstrations and strikes.
The result of martial law was an outpouring of international support for Poland and Solidarity. The United States imposed economic sanctions against the People's Republic of Poland. In 1982 the United States suspended most favored nation trade status until 1987 and vetoed Poland's application for membership in the International Monetary Fund. A few weeks after martial law’s imposition, the U.S. declared an International Day of Solidarity with the People of Poland, and broadcasted the film “Let Poland Be Poland,” supporting the Solidarity movement. TVP Historia and the US Embassy will be screening this film for the first time in Poland this year.