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Mayor of Polish city Gdansk stabbed to death

Friday 25th January 2019 | Jake

The well-regarded mayor of the Polish city of Gdansk died last week of stab wounds. Paweł Adamowicz had a reputation as a liberal politician, and was widely admired by the people of this 570,000 strong port on the Baltic coast. But not by everyone. Speaking at a charity event attened by thousands, Adamowicz was felled mid-speech and swiftly rushed to a nearby hospital. People queued for hours in the vain hope of donating their blood to the stricken mayor. An estimated 45,000 people attended his funeral on Saturday.

Gdansk now mourns a mayor who was a vocal defender of migrants, refugees and supporter of LGBT rights, carving out something of a liberal utopia in a country ruled by the deeply bigoted Law and Justice party. His views and actions of defiance against a hateful government served to breed hatred against him. Regulalry the target of slander from the right wing press and politicians alike, Adamowicz remained unmoved, telling the Guardian in 2016: “Gdansk is a port and must always be a refuge from the sea.”

 

The assailant, referred to only as “Stefan W”, had reportedly blamed the mayor for previous convictions, while many believe the attack was politically motivated. What cannot be disputed is that rhetoric and hate speech can have fatal consequences. Adamowicz was pilloried for his liberal views on a daily basis, and vigils held in Gdansk since his death have acted as silent protests towards hate and fearmongering. In the late Gdansk mayor’s despairingly prophetic words, “physical abuse is normally preceded by verbal violence.” A city mourns, the world must learn.

 

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