Poland: crackdown on Women’s Strike protests continues unabated
The Polish authorities are using a raft of heavy-handed measures to crack down on peaceful protests against a constitutional ruling which severely restricts access to abortion in Poland. Amnesty International has documented the authorities’ excessive use of force including pepper spray, the criminalization of peaceful protesters, and incitement of violence against protesters by public officials.
In a sign of escalation, on Wednesday, while Women’s Strike protesters peacefully gathered in front of the public TV building in Warsaw, the police ‘kettled’ them, together with the journalists covering the event, and used pepper spray.
Facing a near total ban on abortion, people in Poland have mobilized impressively. However, not content with violating their reproductive rights, authorities have used this opportunity to also crack down on their right to peacefully protest.Nils Muižnieks, Europe Director at Amnesty International
“Women of all ages, from girls to grandmothers, have joined overwhelmingly peaceful protests to reclaim their rights.”. We are therefore horrified to see excessive use of force by police, disproportionate charges used against protestors, and speeches from public officials that could encourage further violence toward them.
“On Wednesday and Thursday police detained dozens of peaceful protesters including a 17-old boy, who spent a night in detention for showing up at a small peaceful solidarity demonstration.”
Draginja Nadazdin, Director of Amnesty International Poland added: “We call on Polish authorities to put an end to the use of excessive use of force by police and to drop the disproportionate criminal charges against peaceful protesters. The right to freedom of peaceful assembly must be protected, and the assault on sexual and reproductive rights must end.”
Amnesty International Statement on protests following abortion restrictions (20 November 2020)
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