WARSAW, Poland — Hundreds of people marched in silence Monday to honor 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 gray 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 gray 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.