Exclusive: Polish Group Organising Independence Day Rally in Peterborough Has Problematic Past

A Polish community group which is organising an Independence Day rally in Peterborough tomorrow has previously called for the release of a notorious Polish white supremacist who murdered an anti-Apartheid activist in South Africa in 1993 in hopes of triggering a race war, a Faith Matters investigation can reveal.

We are concerned that Peterborough’s Mayor Chris Ash and Mayoress Doreen Roberts, who, according to organisers, will speak at the event but not attend the march, are unaware of the group’s underlying ideology and links to other far-right groups.

Kristof Jastrzembski, secretary of Komitet Obrony Polski UK, or the Committee for Defence of Poland UK, has given the police assurances that extremism will ‘not be tolerated’ at the march, according to the Peterborough Telegraph.

But there questions to ask as to why such a community group seeks the release of Janusz Waluś.

To seek to answer this question, and to draw attention to the issue, Faith Matters published a groundbreaking report into the rise of far-right sentiment in parts of Poland, and among a minority of diaspora groups in the UK.

A key concern raised in the report, and in our subsequent research, highlights how a minority of far-right groups and extremists are seeking to gain credence in mainstream Polish community groups through a form of entryism, by appealing to a form of Polish patriotism and nationalism by engaging in, or hosting, various community events.

Waluś murdered the anti-apartheid hero and SACP leader Chris Hani in the hope that his actions would trigger a race war in the final days of apartheid in South Africa. He was a member of South Africa’s notorious neo-Nazi group the Afrikaner Resistance Movement. He is still serving a life sentence for his crimes.

Komitet Obrony Polski UK organised a rally in support of Waluś outside of the South African embassy in September 2016.

Mariam Kowalski, a failed presidential candidate in 2015, who represents the far-right National Movement (Ruch Narodowy), attended the London event in support of Waluś. Pressure from the Polish community in Britain, Ealing Police and Ealing Council prevented Kowalski from speaking at a Polish restaurant in west London last year.

The Facebook page of Komitet Obrony Polski added photos of a t-shirt calling for Waluś’s release on October 6, 2016.

Months later, on March 28, 2017, their Facebook page directed supporters to an official support page for Janusz Waluś, where individuals were encouraged to purchase t-shirts.

The group also organised an event in 2016 which featured the controversial far-right Polish historian Leszek Żebrowski.

In January 2017, Komitet Obrony Polski was a signatory to a letter of co-operation alongside the neo-fascist ONR (Oboz Narodowo-Radykalny) and Ogniwo (The Link), groups profiled extensively by Faith Matters.

Trouble at a previous Independence Day rally in 2014 in Peterborough did not result in any arrests.

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