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Poland Marks 25th Anniversary Of Martial Law

Polish President Lech Kaczynski (file photo) (AFP) December 13 -- Poland is marking the 25th anniversary of the declaration of martial law, with exhibitions, lectures, and prayer services for the victims.

Just after midnight, President Lech Kaczynski awarded national honors in the western city of Wroclaw to 69 former activists who opposed the communist regime.

On December 13, 1981, communist authorities imposed martial law and outlawed the pro-democracy Solidarity trade union, which was pushing for economic reforms and democracy. Thousands of people were jailed, including Solidarity leader Lech Walesa and Kaczynski himself.

Poland's leader at the time, General Wojciech Jaruzelski, is currently facing legal action related to the crackdown. Jaruzelski has defended the move as the only way to forestall an invasion by the Soviet Union.

Poland's communist government was toppled in 1989.