Although the European Court of Justice (ECJ) have ordered the Polish government to stop cutting trees, the logging continues. Activists from the Camp for the Forest (Obóz dla Puszczy), which consists of a diverse group of protesters including anarchists, protest everyday and try to stop heavy equipment such as harvesters and forwarders from working.
On Tuesday morning, September 12th, a very high activity of harvesters and forwarders was discovered, trucks transported timber to the farthest corners of the country, where, due to their exceptionally low price, they are converted into euro pallets. The blockade during a peaceful picket stopped the logging and forced the machines to return to their base. Later it turned out that many hundred-year-old spruces and oaks were cut. This is also the area where two endangered species that are strictly protected in Poland, the Eurasian Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium passerinum) and the Three-Toed Woodpecker (Picoides Tridactylus), have been heard.
On Wednesday, September 13th, the situation repeated, machines came back to finish their job. During the peaceful action the Służba Leśna (Forest Guards) brutally attacked protesters. Protesters tried to stop the cut trees from being driven away. They ran to block the forwarders but suddenly, they were assaulted by members of the Forest Guards. One of the anarchist activists, Kawka, was knocked down and beaten by Forest Guards, as a result he spent several hours at the hospital emergency department. The ambulance was called at his request. At the hospital he had head tomography, hand x-rays, and was placed on a drip. After a few hours he was released with head and wrist injuries, tomography showed subcutaneous haematoma.
“About 10 o’clock we entered the forest passing a few guards blocking the entrance. We ran through the forest towards the place where the harvester and the forwarder (which was removing and storing cut trees to be loaded onto trucks and transported out) were standing. At some point, I saw a gap between the guards as a result of the general confusion and I decided to use it to reach to the forwarder and to clip to it. Half a meter from the machine I was brutally knocked to the ground by two guards, who acted almost like in an American football match knocking me down onto the stacked tree trunks. I hit one of them with my head. Later they jumped on me. At all costs they wanted to take a tube that I had in my hand. At first, they dropped my camera so that nothing could be recorded. One of the guards hit my head twice on a tree trunk. Another pressed his thumbs around my lower jaw and throat, causing pain and hoping that it would force me to release the tube. They set levers on my fingers, hands, shoulders, and legs. One of them stood on my hand. All this took a few minutes. During this time they did not respond to my requests to stop. After a long time came their commander, who ordered them to put me on my feet and bring me my lost belongings: phone, camera, which I was not able to retrieve when I was knocked to the ground earlier. At my request the ambulance was called, which took me to the hospital.” said Kawka.
But not only Kawka was the victim of the attack, others were handcuffed to a rope tied around trees, dragged along the ground, and sexist abuse was yelled at women protesters, etc.
This was not the first life-threatening situation. Previously, the Forest Guards cut off the rope on which Kawka was hanging from a tree at about 10 meters height. Another time the forwarder operator tried to run over activists when the four of them tried to block him. When he did not stop, Kawka jumped on the forwarder’s hood. This also did not stop him, he sped up and continued to drive, turning violently on the road, driving into the branches and trying to shake him off. After several hundred meters of this “tour” Kawka managed to jump down safely. Another
participant of the protest had his finger cut after the Forest Guards tried to cut off the rope to which he was clipped. And all this happened only in recent weeks. The Forest Guards are a completely unprepared formation for such situations. They possesses powers like the police, armed with telescopic batons, tear gas and guns, but are unprepared to deal with peaceful protests (all protests in Białowieża Forest are peaceful). This threatens the health and lives of the protesters. It proves that the authorities are in a hurry to cut and remove timber, and it has led to an increased number of Forest Guards who have become more brutal and ruthless. This may lead to tragedy in the future.
”We do everything we can to stop the logging – organize blockades and protests, educate people. We do not act against locals. Our actions and the logging itself have resulted in more and more locals supporting us in our struggle!!!!!!!!
But the struggle is still going. We do not give up!!!!
The whole Białowieża Forest – the National Park!!!”