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Silent march in Poland honours man who set himself on fire

Poles take part in a silent march to honor a man who set himself on fire in October to protest the policies of the ruling party, in Warsaw, Poland, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. Piotr Szczesny, who died more than a week after his act of self-immolation, had left a letter decrying government steps he considered an attack on the rule of law and democracy. He has now become a symbol of the anti-government opposition. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
November 06, 2017 - 10:05 AM

WARSAW, Poland - Hundreds of people marched in silence Monday to honour a man who set himself on fire to protest policies by Poland's ruling party that he said are destroying the rule of law and democracy in the country.

Piotr Szczesny, a 54-year-old chemist, set himself alight on Oct. 19 and died more than a week later. He left a letter explaining he was protesting a government that he accused of limiting civil liberties, violating the constitution and making Poland an object of ridicule internationally.

He wrote in his letter that ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski and other party leaders would have "blood on their hands" for his death.

In his letter, he described himself as an "ordinary grey man" and called on his fellow Poles to revolt against the government.

"Do not wait any longer! This government must be changed as fast as possible before it completely destroys our country, before it completely deprives us of freedom," he wrote.

Many of the marchers dressed in black and carried signs around their necks that said "I, an ordinary grey man."

They first gathered at the spot beneath the landmark Palace of Culture skyscraper in Warsaw where Szczesny set himself alight, and then walked to the ruling party headquarters together.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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