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Naked couple protests in bed against canal project

Sou-Jie van Brunnersum
February 15, 2020

An activist couple spent Valentine's Day demonstrating against the construction of a canal. An activist in the bed told DW the stunt finally raised global awareness of the canal's environmental impacts.

Naked activist pair in bed with banner that reads 'Make Love Not Canal'
Image: Facebook/M. Wojciechowicz

Climate activist Mayra Wojciechowicz thought of no worthier way to spend Valentine's Day than jumping into bed to protect the environment. But her bed was on top of the site of a planned canal project.

Poland is preparing to dig a waterway to construct a canal in the north of the country despite concerns being flagged in the European Union that it could harm the environment.

"Tenderness is our response to this illegal action," said Wojciechowicz, who lay in the bed next to fellow protester Rudolf Robak.

Protesters hold each other in bed
Activists Mayra Wojciechowicz and Rudolf Robak spent their Valentine's Day protestingImage: privat

"Greed, failure to respect nature, selfishness, lack of imagination, endless rivalry and lack of responsibility have reduced the world to the status of an object that can be cut into pieces, used up and destroyed," added the activist, quoting Polish Nobel prize-winning author Olga Tokarczuk.

The organizers of the protest, Camp for the Vistula Split, said it was inspired by Tokarczuk's words in her lecture, "The Tender Narrator."

Tokarczuk is known for her criticisms of the country's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party's policies on Poland's judiciary and rule of law.

Activist pair in bed with other protesters on-site carrying banners
"Tenderness is our response to this illegal action," said activist Mayra WojciechowiczImage: Facebook/M. Wojciechowicz

Poland says canal is for security

The PiS plans to cut across the Vistula Spit, a narrow stretch of land that separates the country's eastern coastline and the Vistula Lagoon from Gdansk Bay in the Baltic Sea.

The land is 55 kilometers (35 miles) long and less than 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) wide. The Polish side is heavily forested and already contains a number of tourist resorts. The eastern side belongs to the Russia exclave of Kaliningrad.

The PiS, wary of Russia, said the canal is important for economic and security reasons because the only access to the lagoon from the Baltic is currently a channel at the Russian end of the spit.

Naked protesters hold banners in front of their bodies
"Lack of responsibility has reduced the world to an object that can be cut into pieces," the activists saidImage: privat

Read more: The Eco-warriors of climate protection

Raising awareness

Protesters on Friday deployed banners reading "Make love not canal" around the bed where the couple lay naked.

Still feeling exhausted from the day-long protest, Wojciechowicz told DW she managed to get only three hours of sleep, only returning home shortly before midnight local time (2300 UTC/GMT) on Friday.

When asked whether the in-bed protest has made a difference, Wojciechowicz responded: "I'm sure many more people have heard what is going on at the canal as it is now all over Polish media."

Media speaks to activists in the bed
Wojciechowicz says that the Valentine's Day stunt received a lot of media attention in PolandImage: privat

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