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"The police are not brutal, just decisive in their response to aggression" - this is how the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration Mariusz Kamiński described the use of violence by the officers in charge of monitoring the women’s protests. Last Friday evening, Kamiński visited the friendly TV studio of government-controlled TVP. He defended police actions and thanked the officers. But according to Wyborcza’s sources, the day before, Kamiński and his deputy Maciej Wąsik (both members of the Law and Justice party) were on the verge of being dismissed. This was pushed for both by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Jarosław Kaczyński, chairman of PiS, and, since recently also the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of State Security.
- Morawiecki wanted to show that he was softening his attitude towards the opposition and the protests. Kaczyński, on the contrary, believed that the police were still too mild during the Women's Strike and other street demonstrations, and thus wanted to replace Kamiński with an even more radical hard-liner’', an informant associated with the Ministry of the Internal affair told us. In the end, Kamiński and Wąsik are staying, and the police are not going to explain their use of anti-terrorists groups against the people protesting last Wednesday in front of the TVP headquarters.
- I believe that the minimum that should be done is to disclose the police internal report on this intervention, and to indicate who is responsible for it, inspector Wojciech Majer, who until 2016 was the head of the Bureau of Anti-Terrorist Operations (BOA), ' tells 'Wyborcza' . It was this this bureau that sent around 60 specially trained policemen against protesters on Wednesday.
- Police officers are trained how to deal with a crowd of people who express their opinion in a peaceful manner, so they should have been prepared for what transpired. It is rather odd to deploy these special operations division, one that is supposed to fight against terrorism, to invigilate a peaceful protert - inspector Rafał Batkowski, former chief of police in Mazovia and Wielkopolska, said during a TV interview.
Inspector Majer adds: - The unit’s regular missions consist of releasing kidnapped people and conducting dangerous actions against organized crime groups. Now, all our achievements have been wiped out and reduced to the image of an undercover thug beating up peaceful protesters with a baton!
Ziobro threatens those who have revealed the identity of the officers
The use of metal telescopic batons and tear gas has shocked public opinion. On Thursday and Friday, various people started posting pictures and personal details of the police officers who were supposed to intervene against the protesters during the women's strike on Wednesday. In response, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General Zbigniew Ziobro informed that "'disclosing the names and addresses of the police officers is a crime; I ordered the District Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw to initiate criminal proceedings against all those who made the names and addresses of the officers public'.
Inspector Majer defends the current head of the BOA, inspector Dariusz Zięba. As we wrote, Zięba was ordered to send his people at the disposal of the Warsaw’s Police. Just as it happened on 11 November, they were supposed to protect the protesters from right-wing militias. Why was it different? We do not know. The group of undercover officers was under the command of an officer from Warsaw police, so he was responsible for the orders they received.
Now, Zięba is apparently woebegone and is considering resigning from BOA. The police say that the undercover officers 'fought off aggressive attacks on uniformed policemen’. However, the photographs and video recordings from Wednesday paint a different story.
The opposition is demanding that the head of the Warsaw’s Police, superintendent Paweł Dobrodziej, is held accountable. - We all have in front of our eyes the scenes when undercover police officers beat the protesters with telescopic batons. We have no doubt who made the political decision to treat the protesters in this way,' said MP Marcin Kierwiński from Civil Coalition on Saturday. At a conference in front of Warsaw Police Headquarters, politicians from his party demanded the dismissal of Dobrodziej.
Mariusz Ciarka, head spokesperson of the Polish police, says that 'anyone who feels his or her rights were violated can file a complaint'.
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