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Images such as these were not uncommon during last week’s abortion rights protests. Shocked and disturbed by a video clip of the incident someone put up online, in their comments, people ask how was it even possible that when a law enforcement officer attacked a defenseless woman his colleagues and superiors just stood there watching? Why was there no reaction?
In the autumn of last year, the ruling camp and the politicized Constitutional Court decided to push through a near-total ban on abortion, provoking mass outrage and bringing thousands of women out onto the streets. The government deployed police troops from all over the country to pacify the protests. In a recent interview, President Andrzej Duda praised law enforcement officers for their professional behavior, expressing his satisfaction with the fact that “no one has been killed” during the protests.
How could it be any different? After all, it is Jarosław Kaczyński’s watchful eye of the Deputy Prime Minister that oversees the country’s security apparatus. It is up to him to decide when the police should just stand and watch, and when they should act more forcefully. Such a state of affairs is nothing new, however. Back in 2007, as the Prime Minister, Kaczyński could single-handedly decide whether Barbara Blida, a former Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) MP arrested by the Internal Security Agency (ABW), would be handcuffed or not...
Since last autumn, under Kaczyński’s command, the police developed a range of repressive tactics it now regularly uses against peaceful protesters. And, of course, they’re convinced it is something to be proud of, since unlike in Belarus, Russia, or even the US, so far, there were no mortal casualties, kidnappings, or heavy beatings; “only” one girl with a broken arm, that’s all. Another quote from President Duda’s recent interview comes in handy: “you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs”.
Let us then list a couple of „eggs” which have been broken only in the past few weeks, shall we?
- cooperating with neo-fascist hooligan groups to capture demonstrators;
- letting undercover counter-terrorist forces beat protestors with collapsible batons;
- using pepper spray against defenseless women;
- abusing "incapacitating grips" leading to serious bodily harm;
- keeping demonstrators trapped in a "kettle" for hours on end;
- unlawful questioning;
- transporting detainees to police stations located many kilometers away from their original place of detention;
- unjustified detention at police stations;
- humiliating strip-searches;
- denying detainees access to a lawyer and family.
Enough “broken eggs” to fill up an entire basket...
All these cases of police abuse have one common denominator. Not a single officer who committed one of these acts was brought to justice or suffered any consequences. Even the officer who broke a girl's arm in front of the police station on Wilcza Street in Warsaw was not punished. The policewomen who did a humiliating strip search of Katarzyna Augustynek, known as Grandma Kasia, or the “brave” counter-terrorists who hit people with collapsible batons on Powstańców Warszawy Square, carry on with impunity.
The ruling party and its police are locked into a mutual-hostage relationship. Police officers who serve at the discretion of the ruling camp can rest assured that their actions will not be met with any sort of punishment. They know perfectly well who is giving them orders, and who silently agrees to the state of lawlessness. If the time of reckoning comes, they will say everything. Surely, they won’t be throwing themselves on any swords.
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