Police use gas during anti-government protests in Poland

After the Parliament voted in favor of a controversial Supreme Court bill, the tension between anti-government protesters and the police rose to dangerous levels. Yesterday night, it erupted.

Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko NewsMavens, Poland
Police use gas during anti-government protests in Poland - NewsMavens
fot. Piotr Molecki/East News Warszawa 18.07.2018r ul. Wiejska Protest Obywateli RP w obronie Sadu Najwyzszego

Why this story matters:

Under the guise of a judiciary reform, the ruling PiS party, aided by the president of Poland has destroyed the basis of Polish democracy -- the separation of powers into three branches: a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary.

As of Wednesday, when president Duda signed the bill on Supreme Court, the Polish judiciary is no longer independent. This bill, which is a breach of the Constitution, subordinates the Supreme Court to the executive branch.

There was little that could be done to counter these moves but protest, so for the past weeks, each evening, people have gathered in front of courts across Poland to show their dissent.  

Protesters in Warsaw have been getting particularly audacious. They cross fences, sneak into the Parliament hidden in the trunk of cars, throw people over the barriers, write on walls, cast eggs at government limos. As a consequence, police are becoming more forceful.

The big news on the weekend was the rough handling and arrest of Klementyna Suchanow, writer, feminist activist and one of the faces of the anti-government protests.

“We have to let go of the idea that we can win this war without getting our hands dirty. Because this is a war, please finally understand that. (...) So instead of obsessing over the fact that we are painting on walls, focus on our message,” she said in a widely-commented interview.

This makes sense to me. Washing a wall is easy, unlike rebuilding democracy.

But as we sink deeper into the reality devised by the ruling party, we observe boundaries being pushed. They have targeted the legend of Lech Wałęsa and the free judiciary. They have shown disdain towards women’s reproductive rights and the situation of handicapped people. Finally, yesterday night, police used tear gas to counter the protesters -- a powerful symbol of Polish communist past.

Details from the story:

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