Protesters marched in Warsaw and other cities on Saturday, November 28, as part of a continuing campaign against recent changes to abortion legislation and against police violence which has occurred in response to other recent similar demonstrations. Women's rights groups announced plans to hold large scale demonstrations across the country on Saturday, despite restrictions in place on gatherings amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. In Warsaw, protesters gathered at Roman Dmowski Roundabout and at the Palace of Culture and Science. Unconfirmed reports suggest scuffles have occurred in Warsaw; there have been no immediate reports of injuries. Police have declared the gatherings illegal, citing COVID-19 restrictions and the ban on large gatherings. Large police cordons sought to block the path of the protesters, but many were reportedly able to bypass police through side streets and courtyards.
Demonstrations have also been reported in Gdansk, Krakow, Lodz, Olsztyn, and Zakopane on Saturday. The demonstrations were planned to coincide with Polish women gaining the right to vote 102 years ago. Previous demonstrations resulted in police using tear gas and other types of force against protesters. Police have also recently detained and charged many demonstrators defying COVID-19 restrictions.
A heightened police presence at protest sites is to be expected, with disruptions to transportation and business likely. Clashes between police and demonstrators are possible.
Those in Poland are advised to monitor the situation, minimize time spent in the vicinity of demonstrations, anticipate a heightened police presence and localized disruptions, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
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