Poland – “We are the fourth wave”, “Stop segregation!”, “Free Poland!”, “Keep your hands off our children!” Several thousand people, many carrying white and red flags and references to the Catholic religion, took part in the “Great Freedom March” held on Saturday 7 August in the streets of Katowice, the Upper Silesian metropolis, to express their rejection of any idea of compulsory vaccination against Covid-19 and of proposals for French-style vaccine segregation.
Katowice anti-vaccine segregation protest seen from the air
“We are free people and if there are Polish tests and [medical] authorities, doctors, specialists – not PM Morawiecki – and those specialists approve this as a drug that they can take responsibility for […] then we will react differently. At this point, we consider it an experiment”,
explained one of the participants in the demonstration, quoted by TokFM radio.
“Let’s rise from our knees! ”
Some demonstrators also professed stronger opinions, such as “resisting tyranny”, calling on the Polish government to “end health segregation” and “medical experimentation”, or even denouncing a “false pandemic”. Others showed their sense of humour, referring to the Catholic faith and proclaiming that they were not afraid of the Delta [variant], since they had the Alpha and Omega [God].
For the time being, there is no plan for compulsory vaccination in Poland
As of today, even though compulsory vaccination for health professionals was at a time envisaged by Health Minister Adam Niedzielski, no decision has yet been taken in that direction by the Polish government, while according to a poll carried out between 30 July and 2 August by the Pollster Research institute and quoted by the conservative weekly Do Rzeczy, 52% of Poles declare themselves hostile to a French-style health discrimination system.
Kaczyński: unvaccinated people should expect restrictions
The fears expressed by the protesters are not entirely unfounded, however. Indeed, in an interview with the PAP news agency published on 7 August, PiS leader and deputy prime minister Jarosław Kaczyński explained very clearly: “Refusing to vaccinate is not a matter of individual freedom […] It is extreme selfishness. The limits of freedom are the rights of others. We cannot expose others to death or disease. […]
The state has a duty to do everything possible to achieve the highest degree of protection against […] Covid. […] New variants of the coronavirus are multiplying. We must achieve herd immunity. […] [People who are not vaccinated] should expect restrictions.
The state must do everything possible to protect its citizens from the pandemic. We cannot submit to those who have difficulty analysing the situation and have too little empathy. Politicians must take responsibility for difficult decisions and assume the risk.”
Not all will appreciate, including, and perhaps above all, among PiS voters.