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Poland’s abortion ban has spurred the largest protest in decades

Warsaw — Ignoring the threat of prosecution and the dangers of the surge in coronavirus cases, thousands of women who had been banned from almost all abortions in Poland last Friday angered thousands of women in the court and assembled the largest demonstration in Warsaw. A country since the fall of communism in 1989.

Accompanied by music mixing, including Darth Vader (Starth Wars) theme, in a government jab, and high-tech music roaring on speakers, the crowd flooded into the capital. street. When police and military security personnel are on both sides of the parade, the red lightning of many women has become the iconic image of their movement.

Thousands of people and various groups have joined them. They believe that under the increasingly authoritarian law and the rule of the Justice Party, the hard-won freedom of the post-communist era is gradually disappearing.

Friday’s protests were the culmination of a week of large-scale demonstrations. Police estimated that 430,000 people across the country participated in more than 400 demonstrations on Wednesday.

Despite the overwhelming overwhelming momentum of the protests, Friday’s march still caused a large number of policemen to appear on the streets of Warsaw, because of fears that right-wing militants might break out of violence.

In an interview with Polish news portal Onet, Bartosz Bekier, the head of the far-right organization Falanga, estimated that thousands of nationalists would participate in the protests and pointed out them “Trained in combat tactics.”

Police said on Friday that some “football hooligans” threw torches at protesters and attacked them, prompting police to intervene. They said that about a dozen people were arrested. The local news media also published many other reports on conflicts between nationalists and demonstrators.

Analysts say that there has never been such a large-scale protest in the country since the collapse of the Communist government in the 1980s as a result of the Solidarity Movement. This is a measure of dissatisfaction with many Poles in the October 22 High Court decision. Abortion is actually prohibited.

For many people protesting this week, the ban on abortion is in line with what they believe is a policy model that denies basic human rights.

“I am here because my sense of helplessness has reached its peak,” said graphic designer Anna Rabczuk. She added: “I feel unimportant. I am less and less like a Polish person. I feel very sad about this.”

She said that the decision on abortion was part of a broader erosion of personal freedom, which she believed was part of the European Union.

The court’s decision suspended the termination of pregnancy due to serious fetal abnormalities, which is actually the only type of abortion currently available in Poland. Pregnancies caused by rape and abortions that threaten women’s lives are still formal laws.

In countries with strong religious beliefs (33 million of the 38 million citizens are registered as Roman Catholics), anger against clergy has been one of the most striking aspects of protests.

“I am full of hatred for the church,” said Zuza Rawa, who is heading to the city center to protest. She said that she accepted the baptism of a Catholic and no longer felt that she urgently needed reform.

Ms. Lava said: “I am scared. This is the main reason why I am here.” “I don’t want to see my country in this situation.”

The ruling party used attacks on the church to rally its own supporters. Some nationalist extremists seized the opportunity and formed what they called the “National Guard.”

Young people wearing black clothes and holding pepper spray-many with shaved heads-have become nightlife outside churches and cathedrals. They faced the protesters, and many quarrels were reported near churches in Warsaw and elsewhere. Two female reporters from Gazeta Wyborca, the country’s largest daily newspaper, reported that they were attacked.

Despite the surge in coronavirus cases in Poland, mass gatherings have been held, and now more than 20,000 new infections are reported every day, and hospitals are struggling to cope with the influx of patients.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki addressed the country on Friday morning in a hurried hospital near the National Stadium along the Vistula River in Warsaw, trying to turn his attention to the pandemic. And urge people to stay at home.

He said: “Let your anger focus on me, on politicians, and let it move me, not on people who can be reached in two weeks.” “Protest ladies and gentlemen, you will be on the bus Get in touch with the elderly at home, at home or at meetings. This can have huge consequences.”

But many people view his plea with skepticism, and critics believe that the timing of the abortion ruling is to distract the public from the government’s failure to prepare for the wave of infections that are now spreading across the country.

Since the Law and Justice Party gained control of the government in 2015, this virus has almost been unable to prevent the people from splitting. This fact highlights the depth of the country’s split and promotes the vision that a country needs to “rise from its rise.” knee. “

At the time, immigration was the focus of the party’s harshest rhetoric. But with the disappearance of this problem, the party regarded homosexuals as an existential threat to the country, prompting dozens of places to pass legislation declaring that their regions are not affected by “LGBT ideology.”

The Polish Supreme Court’s decision on abortion cannot be appealed, but since the opinion has not been published, it is not technically legally binding.

President Andrzej Duda, who was diagnosed with the coronavirus last week and is still recovering, hinted on Friday that he is willing to accept some form of compromise.

After consulting with women and experts, he said he would submit “reform proposals” to Parliament.

However, the effective leader of the government, Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of the Law and Justice Party, has become increasingly provocative and often leads to confrontation.

Kaczynski said this week that the purpose of the protests was to “destroy Poland and end the history of the Polish nation”, and critics called it right-wing supporters to take action.

After Mr. Kaczynski condemned politicians who supported the protests as “criminals,” the Ministry of Justice issued a notice to prosecutors across the country, ordering them to target the organizers of “illegal assemblies” in order to endanger public health during the pandemic.

At the same time, the Minister of Education and Science Przemysław Czarnek threatened to cut funding for universities believed to be promoting or encouraging protesters.

After some universities canceled courses to allow students to attend a rally earlier this week, the minister said their behavior was “shameful.”

“Young people are in a period of rebellion. We have also experienced this,” he told national television station TVP. “The difference is that we grew up in the spirit of authority. Teachers are authority. We must come back to this.”

Both Anatol Magdziarz in Warsaw and Marc Santora in London reported. Monika Pronczuk provided reporting from Brussels.

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