Arts and Culture

Protests in Warsaw: What’s Going on in Poland?

Last Friday, October 30, 2020, tens of thousands of women took to the streets of Warsaw to protest an outrageous court decision that would ban nearly all abortions in the country. Despite the risks of prosecution from police and the continued prominence of the Coronavirus, these women flooded the streets of the capital and marched while being flanked by police and military security officers. The protestors were accompanied by a musical medley, including Darth Vader’s theme from the Star Wars franchise, criticizing the government’s policy and leaders.

(Photo Credit: Evidamii019, Wikimedia Commons)

These protests were the culmination of a week-long series of rallies that peaked at 430,000 protesters participating in more than 400 demonstrations around the country. However, women were not the only ones participating in the fight. Men also participated in the marches alongside several other groups and organizations who support freedom of choice and are against the increasingly autocratic government of Poland.

The truth is, while these protests and demonstrations are primarily about women’s rights and abortion laws, they are meaningful to the country and population as a whole. According to the New York Times, many Polish activists believe that Poland is going against Europe’s values and losing cohesion with the rest of the Union. Fortunately, the protests have been largely peaceful, with no significant conflict between protestors and police. However, there have been worries regarding the actions of conservatives and “soccer hooligans,” who have reportedly thrown flares at protestors and forced nearby police officers to take forceful measures. In the end, about a dozen people were arrested, but authorities are now concerned over future potential attacks.

Of course, it is important to be safe and responsible during the pandemic, but as long as human lives are not being risked, this is a cause worth fighting for. The last time there were protests of this size in Poland, the Soviet Union was still around, and now, people are protesting once again to prevent the return of autocracy.

Poland’s Solidarity Protests in 1989. Solidarity was the first independent union in a Warsaw Pact country that was officially recognized by the state. Founded in 1980, it had a major role in ending communist rule in Poland. (Photo Credit: Janusz Bałanda Rydzewski)

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