Murdered Polish mayor’s funeral draws crowd of 45,000 in Gdansk

Candle lights and signs honouring Pawel Adamowicz, Gdansk mayor who died after being stabbed at charity event, are seen in the main square of Krakow, Poland January 19, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Jakub Porzycki via REUTERS

Murdered Gdansk mayor Pawel Adamowicz’s funeral drew tens of thousands of people in the Polish Baltic coast city on Saturday amid outrage over his murder six days ago. Banners with black and white pictures of Adamowicz were draped over buildings as Polish politicians including former president Lech Walesa, who helped to overturn communism in Eastern Europe, joined a mass at St Mary’s Basilica.

European Council President Donald Tusk and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also joined mourners who listened to the choir as they awaited the burial of Adamowicz’s ashes. Adamowicz, one of Poland’s longest-serving mayors, was attacked on stage during one of Poland’s biggest annual charity events and died the following day.

Broadcaster TVN24 said 3,500 mourners gathered inside the 500-year-old Gothic cathedral on Saturday, while others watched Gdansk archbishop Leszek Slawoj Glodz give family members rosaries and gifts sent by Pope Francis on huge screens. “What happened on Sunday evening … was perceived as a violent constant sound of a alarming bell, call for saving the conscience and changing the way of our living, political style,” Glodz told mourners during the Mass.

The murder of a liberal critic of Poland’s ruling party’s anti-immigrant policies highlights the charged atmosphere in parts of eastern Europe where populist leaders have fanned nationalist sentiment. As well as encouraging migrants to seek refuge in Gdansk, Adamowicz was known for backing a campaign to defend the rule of law against what activists consider efforts by the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party to increase political control over the judiciary and other bodies.

SOLIDARITY

On Friday, 53,000 people paid tribute to Adamowicz, who beat the PiS in October, while he lay in state in the museum of the Solidarity movement that helped to usurp communism in Poland. Police said some 45,000 people had attended the funeral. Polish authorities have arrested a 27-year-old former convict, named only as Stefan W., over the killing. He was freed last month after serving 5-1/2 years for attempted bank robbery.

The attacker accused the mayor’s former party of putting him in prison, where he said he was tortured, at the event. Authorities have detained at least 10 people in recent days over calls on social media to murder and other acts of aggression in the wake of Adamowicz’s death.

People gather around a giant flag displaying the City of Gdansk coat of arms on the funeral day for the city’s mayor Pawel Adamowicz, in Krakow, Poland January 19, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Adrianna Bochenek via REUTERS
Former German President Joachim Gauck attends a funeral service for the city’s mayor Pawel Adamowicz at St Mary’s Basilica in Gdansk, Poland January 19, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Renata Dabrowska via REUTERS
Gdansk Region Archbishop Slawoj Leszek Glodz conducts a funeral service for the city’s mayor Pawel Adamowicz at St Mary’s Basilica in Gdansk, Poland January 19, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Renata Dabrowska via REUTERS
People attend a funeral service for the city’s mayor Pawel Adamowicz at St Mary’s Basilica in Gdansk, Poland January 19, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Bartosz Banka via REUTERS
Former Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski (back-L) attends a funeral service for the city’s mayor Pawel Adamowicz at St Mary’s Basilica in Gdansk, Poland January 19, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Renata Dabrowska via REUTERS
European Council President Donald Tusk, former Polish President Lech Walesa, former first lady Danuta Walesa, former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and former first lady Jolanta Kwasniewska attend a funeral service for the city’s mayor Pawel Adamowicz at St Mary’s Basilica in Gdansk, Poland January 19, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Bartosz Banka via REUTERS
People gather on Ulica Dluga for mayor Pawel Adamowicz’s funeral service in Gdansk, Poland January 19, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Martyna Niecko via REUTERS
Gdansk Mayor Pawel Adamowicz’s daughter Antonina, wife Magdalena and brother Piotr Adamowicz attend a funeral service for the mayor at St Mary’s Basilica in Gdansk, Poland January 19, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Bartosz Banka via REUTERS
A man holds a City of Gdansk flag as he and others line up for the funeral service for the city’s mayor Pawel Adamowicz at St Mary’s Basilica in Gdansk, Poland January 19, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Bartosz Banka via REUTERS
Scouts and clergy members stand near the remains of the city’s mayor Pawel Adamowicz during his funeral service at St Mary’s Basilica in Gdansk, Poland January 19, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Bartosz Banka via REUTERS
People stand behind a barricade near St Mary’s Basilica during the funeral service for the city’s mayor Pawel Adamowicz in Gdansk, Poland January 19, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Bartosz Banka via REUTERS
Candle lights and signs honouring Pawel Adamowicz, Gdansk mayor who died after being stabbed at charity event, are seen in the main square of Krakow, Poland January 19, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Jakub Porzycki via REUTERS
People gather to watch a broadcast of the funeral service for Gdansk Mayor Pawel Adamowicz, in Warsaw, Poland January 19, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Dawid Zuchowicz via REUTERS
The City of Gdansk flag is displayed as people gather to watch a broadcast of the funeral service for Gdansk Mayor Pawel Adamowicz, in Warsaw, Poland January 19, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Dawid Zuchowicz via REUTERS
People gather to watch a broadcast of the funeral service for Gdansk Mayor Pawel Adamowicz, in Warsaw, Poland January 19, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Dawid Zuchowicz via REUTERS

Adamowicz was one of 11 Polish mayors targeted with fake death certificates by a far-right group called All-Polish Youth in 2017, after signing a declaration to welcome refugees in opposition to government policy.

Critics blame Poland’s politicians for cranking up hate speech and support for the PiS party fell to 30 percent in the wake of Adamowicz’s death, a poll conducted by Kantar Millward Brown showed, from 33 percent in November. The biggest opposition grouping Koalicja Obywatelska had 25 percent.