On the 19th straight day of protests, police carried off protesters blocking a street in Warsaw. The protesters were sitting in the street in front of the Education Ministry to demand the firing of the new minister, who has made statements on education and human rights that have angered many people. A few hundred protesters then marched into downtown Warsaw to drumming, blocking streets, and chanting that the right-wing government’s policies have made them very angry. More protests were also held in Katowice and Bialystok, with participants demanding abortion rights for women and for the government to go.
SOURCE: ABC News, by Associated Press, 9 November 2020 ; PHOTO by Associated Press
Sources of support for Polish women needing abortions across Europe
Abortion Without Borders: a collaboration between Abortion Dream Team (Poland), Kobiety w Sieci (Poland), Women Help Women (global), Ciocia Basia (Germany), Abortion Network Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Abortion Support Network (United Kingdom). HELPLINE: +48 222 922 597 open every day 8am-8pm ; https://abortion.eu/
New support group in Prague for Polish women needing abortions: Ciocia Czesia (Auntie Czech)
In the Czech Republic, a Polish artist who supports safe abortion has initiated a support group in Prague for Polish women needing abortions, called Ciocia Czesia (Auntie Czech). Similar groups already exist in Vienna (Ciocia Wienia) and in Berlin (Ciocia Basia). The new group plans to help by sharing necessary information, organising transport and accommodation, and providing financial and emotional support. They are currently contacting clinics and hospitals to see which ones are willing to help. The group acknowledge, however, that Czech legislation is not 100% clear that abortion is permitted for people from abroad. This uncertainty, which needs to be clarified, has meant that some clinics felt unable to offer to help.
Law lecturer tries unsuccessfully to ban students from having a symbol of the Women’s Strike on their computers
Prof Jan Majchrowski, a lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Warsaw University, banned his students from “political and ideological manifestation” during his remote classes. He did not allow students with the symbol of the Women’s Strike on their screens to participate. In addition, he threatened them with disciplinary action. On 2 November, he was holding a remote lecture on statehood. He sent an e-mail to his students several hours beforehand, in which he wrote that during his classes “no manifestations of students of a political and ideological nature will be tolerated, no matter what form they take (verbal, textual, graphic, including references to symbols of such nature)”. The letter ends with the threat that “those who violate this principle must be prepared to be removed from these activities with all the formal consequences”. He also said that “reprehensible behaviours of this nature will be reported to the Disciplinary Ombudsman for Students”.
Prof Majchrowski was a judge of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Polish Supreme Court. In 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union and the Supreme Court decided that this Chamber was not a bona fide court under the meaning of EU law. Majchrowski was also previously an advisor to Marek Kuchciński (former Speaker of the parliament from the governing Law and Justice Party).
In response, the University spokesperson for equal treatment and spokesperson for students’ rights sent a response defending the students. “Solidarity with the values of the Women’s Strike movement is within the area of values represented by our university, as well as many other Polish universities whose rectors have spoken on the matter…. The University of Warsaw (UW) supported those who took part in the protests through a number of activities – leaving the gate of the university open, offering legal and psychological support. This is an expression of UW’s responsibility and concern for its community” – see the UW website.
The statement also states that lecturers should make sure that no student feels excluded. They may, for example, underline their consent to diversity of views and willingness to discuss. “On the other hand, lecturers who do not identify themselves with the Women’s Strike have no right to exclude or punish any student due to the use of this symbol, because there are no grounds for doing so”.
SOURCE: Wyborcza.pl, by Wojciech Karpieszuk, Miłosz Wiatrowski, 6 November 2020