Solidarity: out of hiding and into the spotlight
The outlawed Solidarity trade union announced last week that its underground leadership would start to work in public in response to a government amnesty for political prisoners. Zbigniew Bujak, the former underground leader who was arrested last May after 4 years on the run and freed again last month under the amnesty, told reporters in Warsaw that underground leaders would emerge from hiding.
In Gdansk, where the trade union was born out of strikes in 1980, Solidarity chairman Lech Walesa held a simultaneous press conference to announce the formation of a union council to ``ease the transition from clandestine activities to legal and open undertakings.''
Mr. Walesa said that the union's underground Provisional Coordinating Committee (TKK) would not be disbanded immediately but that formation of the council would pave the way for all to eventually emerge into public life.
Two underground leaders representing the Warsaw area, Jan Litynski and Wiktor Kuleski, introduced themselves to reporters and said they were no longer in hiding.
Walesa paid tribute to the TKK, saying it had helped Solidarity survive after being suppressed under martial law in December 1981.
Mr. Bujak and other opposition activists stressed that the TKK was not disbanding.
Certain underground structures would remain in operation, such as printing and distribution networks to overcome the ``technical difficulties'' of working in opposition, Solidarity sources said.
``We wish to express our goodwill and declare our readiness to take steps along the road to dialogue and agreement [with the government],'' Walesa said, speaking at his home.
But government spokesman Jerzy Urban told reporters that the communist authorities would not change their longstanding refusal to negotiate with Solidarity.
``Walesa is a private person,'' Mr. Urban said, repeating that Solidarity was an illegal organization. Walesa said that Solidarity, which numbered some 10 million members during its 16 months of legal existence, would continue to campaign for lawful recognition.
``I have often said that we do not wish to conspire,'' he added.
The government's recent amnesty for 225 political prisoners had brought a spark of hope that Poland would start along the road of dialogue and accord after more than four years of rifts, hatred, and repression, Walesa said.
The new body, named the Provisional Council of the Independent Self-Governing Trade Union Solidarity, comprises seven former TKK members -- Bujak, Bogdan Borusewicz, Wladyslaw Frasyniuk, Tadeusz Jedynak, Bogdan Lis, Janusz Palubicki, and Jozef Pinior.
Two TKK members, Jan Andrzej Gorny and Marek Muszynski, are still on the run, and their respective regions will decide on the timing of their emergence into public life, opposition activists said.
This would also depend, the activists added, on the reaction of the authorities to the new council and whether there was a threat of further arrests.
The government's offer of amnesty for underground members is open until the end of the year.
Solidarity's announcement followed a meeting of 11 senior activists, including Walesa, in Gdansk last week. Opposition sources said that although Walesa was not named on the new council, his position as union chairman was reaffirmed.