At least 50 dissidents were arrested Friday in the biggest crackdown on anti-government groups since a mass amnesty for political prisoners last year, but Solidarity founder Lech Walesa said the arrests would not stop the outlawed union from staging May Day protests.
Solidarity sources said police rounded up Solidarity members, peace activists and other dissidents and searched their homes in Warsaw, Gdansk, Wroclaw, Poznan and Szczecin.
Solidarity sources put the number of detainees at 50 but said at least 13 people detained in Poznan "probably . . . have been freed so far."
The police action came one day after Walesa urged Solidarity to organize rallies independent of the Communist Party gatherings planned for May 1, International Workers Day.
Walesa, in a telephone interview from his home in Gdansk, vowed Friday that the protests would proceed as planned despite the roundup, the largest police action since the release of 225 political prisoners under a government amnesty announced last July.
"It is a preparatory police action before May Day," he said.
The amnesty helped lead to the U.S. lifting in February of economic sanctions imposed after the December, 1981, martial-law crackdown crushed the East Bloc's first independent trade union.
In Warsaw, Solidarity said it would defy authorities and stage an independent demonstration against recent food price increases of 10% to 25%. Protests are planned in other major cities.
"We want to celebrate May Day," Walesa said. "We don't want the authorities to prepare posters with the instructions when to laugh and weep."