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Poland: Protesters march to home of PiS party leader on anniversary of communist crackdown

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Thousands of anti-government protesters demonstrated in Warsaw in the latest large protest on December 13, 2020.
Thousands of anti-government protesters demonstrated in Warsaw in the latest large protest on December 13, 2020.   -   Copyright  Czarek Sokolowski/Associated Press
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Large numbers of people marched in Warsaw on Sunday to protest Poland's right-wing government, the latest demonstration after a high court ruled to further tighten the country's already restrictive abortion law.

Sunday’s protest was scheduled to coincide with the 39th anniversary of the 1981 martial law crackdown by the country’s communist regime of the time. Many Poles accuse the government of acting more and more like the authoritarian regime of that era.

It was organised by the Women's Strike, a group behind a string of mass nationwide protests since the October 22 abortion ruling. Others also joined in, with entrepreneurs turning out in frustration at the government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The march was being held under the slogan, "We are going for freedom. We are going for everything!"

The protesters gathered at a central intersection and began marching to the home of Jarosław Kaczyński, the head of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and understood to be the country's de facto leader even though he is only a deputy prime minister.

Riot police blocked the protesters, forcing them to take another route along the Vistula River to reach Kaczyński's home in the northern Zoliborz district.

Police announced on loudspeakers that the protest was illegal, saying "we have an epidemic". To that the protesters replied: "We have an epidemic of PiS," using the Polish acronym for Law and Justice. "We are overthrowing the government!"

Many carried European Union and rainbow flags to show their support for tolerance and being part of the Western world.

Kaczyński's apartment building was surrounded by hundreds of police officers in riot gear, preventing the protesters from getting very close.

Disgruntled farmers also carried out a separate protest overnight, leaving a large mound of eggs, potatoes, and a dead pig on the street in front of Kaczyński's home.

The farmers said they were receiving too little for their produce and accused the government of failing to respond to their problems.

Police said they fined four people for littering and blocking the street.