Thousands protest against Polish govt.'s ‘violation of democracy’
Story Code : 524148
Some 15,000 people attended the Saturday protest organized by the Committee for the Defense of Democracy, also known as the KOD.
Condemning the ruling Law and Justice party, the demonstrators said the three-month-old conservative administration undermines their freedoms and the constitution.
"We've come to make it clear that freedom and democracy are the most important values guarded by the constitution," said Mateusz Kijowski, the founder of the KOD, who added, "We want a free and open Poland ... a Poland where there is room for everyone."
The protesters also chanted the name of former president, Lech Walesa, to show their support for the ex-leader following allegations that he was a Communist-era secret service informant in the 1970s. Walesa himself has denied the allegations.
The protesters accused the ruling Law and Justice party of trying to destroy his reputation for political gain.
"We came here to defend a symbol of Polish history against hate," said Grzegorz Schetyna, the head of the opposition Civic Platform party, referring to Walesa.
During the demonstration, Kijowski read out a message from Walesa, in which he refuted cooperating with the Communist secret police and insisted that the documents that emerged last week claiming he was a collaborator were forged.
Despite the protest, many other Poles back the governing party, which swept to power last November by promoting Catholic values and taking measures to help the disadvantaged.