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23 Nov, 2020 20:40

Clashes in Poland as police remove pro-choice activists chained to Warsaw’s Ministry of Education

Clashes in Poland as police remove pro-choice activists chained to Warsaw’s Ministry of Education

Police in Warsaw clashed with demonstrators who chained themselves to the gates of the Ministry of National Education and staged a roadblock on a bridge on Monday in protest over Poland’s toughening of abortion rights.

Huge protests have erupted in recent weeks over the ruling in October by Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal that the abortion of fetuses with serious defects was unconstitutional.

On Monday, police drafted in a tow truck to remove cars from the Polish capital’s Łazienkowski Bridge after they had been left there as part of a blockade organized by the national Women’s Strike movement (Strajk Kobiet).

Outside the Ministry of National Education, protesters raised a banner that read “Free Abortion, Free Education,” and reportedly chanted “schools free of fascism.” 

One person needed medical assistance after using quick-drying glue to stick their hand to the entrance of the building, a Warsaw Police spokesperson said.

A police statement also said that an ambulance was called for another protester who had cut her hand on the grates of a police-car window. 

According to Szpila, an “anti-repression” group, four protesters were detained by police.  

Officers did not confirm how many arrests had been made during Monday’s protests, but said that all those detained had now been released.

Journalist Agata Grzybowska, who works for Gazeta Wyborcza and Associated Press, was reportedly arrested after failing to identify herself, with footage posted to social media showing her being hauled into a police van. 

Protesters could later be seen massing in the street outside the police station where Grzybowska was believed to be held, chanting “free the detainees!” 

A police car involved in the response to the protests was also damaged, a spokesman for the force said, although he denied reports that a vehicle had collided with a protester.

Monday’s protests come after a large demonstration in the Polish capital at the end of October, which drew tens of thousands of people. The country already had some of Europe’s strictest abortion laws before the ruling, which effectively now bans the medical procedure.

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