Racist Polish fans advocate for “freedom” for Chris Hani’s murderer

The return of live sporting events in Poland has seen a return of racist sloganing centered around the murderer of Chris Hani, Janusz Walus. 

The Never Again Association from Poland has campaigned against racism, antisemitism and xenophobia since 1996. They’ve noticed in recent years many banners and flags flown during matches have pledged their support for Polish-born Walu?. He is currently serving a life sentence for the 1993 assassination of Chris Hani. 

Hani was the general secretary of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and chief of staff of Umkhonto we Sizwe. 

Walu? was denied parole in 2020 for the third time. However, in Poland he is widely supported as a “modern-day resistance hero – a victim of the Polish communist regime he left behind in 19810”. The Never Again Association says the cult around Walu? started in the 1990s. It has spread due to his recent parole applications and the rise of the right-wing in Poland. 

Rafa? Pankowski, a professor at Collegium Civitas in Warsaw and director of the Never Again association said: “It represents not only the growing acceptance of racism, but also a growing acceptance of politically motivated violence.”

With the resumption of the Polish league, Lechia Gdansk supporters held up a banner with Walu?’ name and picture and the slogan “Nothing will break you, you’re not alone”. This was during a match played on July 12.

The latest campaign follows a March 2019 UEFA European Championship qualification game in Vienna between the Austrian and Polish national teams. A banner was displayed calling for “Freedom for Janusz Walu?”. And the irony? That match in particular was played on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. 

And while Walu? languishes in prison, he seems to be the fresh, new face of a resurgent group of white supremacists. 

[UPDATE AS OF APRIL 16 2021] Walus lost his bid for leave to appeal the refusal of his release on parole in the Supreme Court of Appeal. Read more here.

Featured image via Flickr