Twenty two people were arrested yesterday during the occupation of the General Directorate of State Forests in Warsaw, Poland. The action was taken in protest against Directorate’s decision to start logging of Bialowieza Forest in Northern Poland: the last remaining part of European primeval forest.
Both main entrance and main hall were occupied. Outside of the building, banners were hung with slogans such as ‘The forest grows slow, but disappears fast’, and ‘Stop cutting, stop lying’. The activists wrote down their demands and hung them up at the entrance of the building. The police broke the occupation after 9 hours and arrested activists involved. Two of the people arrested were the activists who recently organised a meeting about Bialowieza anti- logging campaign at London Anarchist Bookfair.
The arrests were followed by police visits to the homes of the activists. Many next of kin of the arrested found those visits rather intimidating, with police asking questions about mental health state and drug problems of the arrestees.
The protestors demanded immediate repeal of the Director of State Forests decision to cut down 2/3 of the Bialowieza Forest; removal of Harvester machines (heavy forestry vehicles capable of logging of up to 100 trees a day) from the area, immediate stop of sales of timber from Bialowieza; and protection of the area as a National Park.
Yesterday’s occupation is yet another chapter in the struggle against the Directorate of State Forests’ decision to start logging in Bialowieza Forest. In June, a group of activists set up Camp for Forest: a non- violent self- organised direct action camp aiming at obstructing logging operations. The camp activists conducted a number of successful actions, and often met with brutality from forest guards. In general, the logging in Bialowieza is massively unpopular in Polish society: with 70% of Poles against it, one may expect more protests in near future.
Photo credit: Camp for Forest