Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Funeral plans cause protests

From: NPE
Protesters hit the streets on Wednesday to show their anger over the decision to bury Lech Kaczynski and his wife at the Wawel cathedral in Krakow.

In total, around 200 people gathered in the capital, waving banners and placards stating “Warsaw for presidents, Krakow for kings”.

The cathedral crypt, located in the grounds of the sacred Wawel castle, is the burial site for Poland’s historic figures, including heroes and royalty.

The news that the Kaczynskis are to be buried in a tomb directly next to Jozef Pilsudski has caused further outrage, with many demonstrators claiming that they have no right to be laid next to one of the country’s most loved and cherished icons.

“The air disaster last Saturday was one of the greatest tragedies our nation has experienced. Our president died a hero and deserves to rest amongst heroes,” says Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz.

It is not known if government officials were involved in the decision or not, but it appears that the Archbishop of Krakow was asked directly by Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

While the protests passed without violence, tempers flared, leading to some Krakow demonstrators to begin arguing in ul. Franciskanska, in front of the Cardinals’ residence.

Andrzej Wajda, director of the film of the same name has also been vocal in his anger over the sensitive topic.
In an open letter publisher in Gazeta Wyborcza, he stated, “President Lech Kaczynski was an ordinary and good man, but there is no reason for him to lie in the Wawel among the kings of Poland and Marshal Jozef Pilsudski.”

He added that the arrangements were “hastily made in a time of high emotion” and that the decision was “misplaced”.

The protest was fuelled by popular social-network site, Facebook, which had a special group dedicated to the cause. By Wednesday evening, the group had attracted over 35,000 fans.

“We’re all mourning the tragic death of the presidential couple, but we mustn’t go overboard. The Wawel is a special historical place, where the monarchs of Poland and other great Poles lie. Let it remain so,” stated the organisers of the page.

“I think it’s a total exaggeration and an attempt by the right wing to raise the Polish republic’s worst president to the status of a national icon for political capital,” said 28 year-old Szymon, who happened to be walking past the protest.