Mława riot

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The Mława riot, or Mława incident,[1] also described by Western commentators as the Mława pogrom,[2] was a series of violent devastations and looting incidents on 26–27 June 1991 when a group of youth estimated at 200 individuals including young females invaded the homes of Roma residents of the Polish town of Mława causing them to flee.[1] Not a single Roma person was injured in the riot,[1] but the material losses were substantial affecting up to 40% of residences.[1] Many perpetrators were arrested on-site; a number of them sentenced to jail after a trial.[1] The violence, described by foreign media as motivated by racism and jealousy, received editorial condemnation.[3][4] The real cause, however, was the killing of a Polish pedestrian struck along with his companion in a hit-and-run by a Romani male driver.[1]


The immediate cause of the riot was a hit-and-run accident just before midnight on 23 June 1991 on the pedestrian crossing at Piłsudskiego and Zuzanny Morawskiej streets.[1] A speeding luxury car driven by seventeen-year-old Roman Packowski of Romani ethnicity hit and seriously injured two young pedestrians, killing one of them.[1] The driver fled the scene and hid from the police.[1] He was later convinced by the Roma elders to turn himself in.[1] Soon after the accident the local radio station informed that the driver had fled the scene. This claim was in fact true;[5] however, the driver fled after people who witnessed the accident already identified his vehicle.[6] For the next two days the driver and his car were hidden among the local Roma community.[1][5]

The accident victim who died from his injuries was the 21-year-old Jaroslaw Pinczewski. The mayor of Mława, Adam Chmielinski informed that he died at the scene.[1] Other victim, seventeen-year old Katarzyna Zakrzewska, suffered permanent physical incapacitation.[7]


Two days later some sixty Mława youths targeted and destroyed the house of a local Roma leader. The assailants quickly grew in number and began burning other Roma homes. Estimates put the number of participants in the violence from one hundred to two hundred.[8] Some Roma found protection at the local police station. Others hid at the homes of their Polish friends.[1] A total of 17 Roma houses were seriously damaged and further 4 houses and 9 apartments were vandalized, but no members of the Roma community were hurt. The crowd apparently targeted wealthier Roma and their estates. The police brought in additional forces and imposed a curfew.[9]

A former political dissident Adam Michnik writing in Gazeta Wyborcza castigated the police and political authorities for their alleged inaction. The paper also demanded 'official action against ethnic hatred'. As a result, a number of political parties and academic institutions belatedly condemned the pogrom.[10]

The eruption of ethnic violence at Mława in 1991 has been described as 'the renewal of anti-Gypsy racism in Poland' by hostile foreign critics; presumably linked to a significant rise in Polish Roma asylum applications in the United Kingdom[11] and Sweden.[12]

Afterwards, 21 persons were brought to court, and 17 were sentenced for up to 30 months in prison. The President of the Roma Society of Poland, Roman Kwiatkowski informed that the relations between the local Roma and their Polish neighbours twenty years after the fact are good.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Krzysztof Napierski (30 June 2011). "Mławski incydent dał nam doświadczenie na przyszłość" [The Mlawa incident gave us experience for the future] (reprint). Wywiad z Romanem Kwiatkowskim (Prezesem Stowarzyszenia Romów w Polsce) w "Głosie Mławy" (Interview with Roman Kwiatkowski, President of the Roma Society of Poland) for the "Voice of Mlawa" magazine. Stowarzyszenie Romow w Polsce (Roma Society of Poland, homepage). Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  2. ^ Emigh, Rebecca Jean; Szelényi, Iván (2001). Poverty, ethnicity, and gender in Eastern Europe during the market transition. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 101–102. ISBN 978-0-275-96881-6. Retrieved 2011-01-24. 
  3. ^ "Poles Vent Their Economic Rage on Gypsies". The New York Times. July 25, 1991. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "Hooligans and the Neighbors' Cow". New York Times. July 29, 1991. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Anna Giza-Poleszczuk i Jan Poleszczuk, "Cyganie i Polacy w Mławie konflikt etniczny czy społeczny?" prepared for CBOS, Warszawa, December 1992, pages 24 to 29
  6. ^ Beata Klimkiewicz (7 December 1999), The pogrom in Mława, Poland: no media influence on justice. ERRC.org
  7. ^ Cahn, Claude (2002). Claude Cahn, ed. Roma rights: race, justice, and strategies for equality. Sourcebook on contemporary controversies. IDEA. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-9702130-6-8. Retrieved 2011-01-26. 
  8. ^ EU Accession Monitoring Program (2001). Monitoring the EU accession process: minority protection : country reports. Monitoring the EU accession process. 1. Budapest: Central European University Press. p. 380. ISBN 978-1-891385-19-3. Retrieved 2011-01-27. 
  9. ^ Klimkiewicz, Beata (7 July 2004). "When the media make a difference: Comparing two European race crimes". European Roma Rights Centre. pp. The pogrom in Mlawa, Poland: no media influence on justice. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  10. ^ Cahn (2002) p.120
  11. ^ Acton, Thomas Alan (1997). Gypsy politics and Traveller identity. Univ of Hertfordshire Press. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-900458-75-0. Retrieved 2011-01-27. 
  12. ^ Drobizheva, L. M. (1996). Ethnic conflict in the post-Soviet world: case studies and analysis. Armenian Research Center collection. M.E. Sharpe. p. 316. ISBN 978-1-56324-740-8. Retrieved 2011-01-27. 

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