Thousands march in defence of Polish court
PR dla Zagranicy
Thousands marched in Warsaw and other Polish cities on Saturday in defence of the Constitutional Tribunal, which is locked in a stand-off with the government.
Marchers in front of the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, 12 March. PAP/Jacek Turczyk
The protests, which were organised by NGO the Committee for the Defence of Democracy (KOD) and opposition party Nowoczesna, were held under the slogan 'let's bring back constitutional order.'
The demonstrations came hot on the heels of the government's confirmation on Saturday that it will not publish a key ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal, despite being urged to do so by Council of Europe watchdog the Venice Commission, which Poland's foreign minister had invited to Poland.
“We have been talking about freedom and democracy for almost four months,” KOD leader Mateusz Kijowski said during Saturday's demonstration in Warsaw.
“We are talking about the fact that the Constitutional Tribunal is necessary to defend us,” he said.
The town hall in Warsaw estimated that 50,000 people demonstrated in Warsaw, while the police gave a figure of 15,000. Marches were also held in other Polish cities such as Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk and Lublin.
Prime Minister Beata Szydło has argued that the Constutional Tribunal's ruling is invalid.
A nation divided
On Monday, leader of the governing Law and Justice party Jarosław Kaczyński attempted to discredit KOD, arguing that advocates of the movement “despise Poland, they want to be someone else, often they say that they want to be Europeans.”
He claimed that KOD members brandish the red and white Polish flag as a “defensive” measure.
Kaczyński's comments were rejected by Kijowski, who said that “it's hard to imagine that you can talk in such a way to your fellow citizens.” (nh/pk)