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Anti-govt rally draws ‘1 million’ people in Poland

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WARSAW: Around a million people gathered on Sunday at a rally in Warsaw to protest against Poland’s conservative government two weeks ahead of a key general election.

Called by opposition leader and former premier Donald Tusk, the “Million Hearts March” sought to mobilise the electorate ahead of the vote.

“This is absolutely the biggest demonstration in Warsaw’s history,” War­saw city spokeswoman Monika Beuth said, adding that “around a million” people attended.

Protesters gathered at the heart of Warsaw, many carrying Polish and European Union flags, and marched through the city, with the rally culminating with a speech by Tusk, the head of the centrist Civic Coalition bloc.

“We, here, are Poland,” Tusk told the rally, “and we are here to win”. “Poland deserves better.. Poland deserves the best”, he said, adding that “more than a million” people were taking part.

Participants from across Poland began gathering in Warsaw in the early hours to rally against the government, run by the nationalist Law and Justice party.

Kazimierz Figzal said it took him seven hours to get to the capital from southwest Poland. “We’ve had enough of what we witness now — our freedom is being curbed. We want democracy, for our children and grandchildren,” the 65-year-old said.

“It’s high time that we return back to normal, to the rule of law, to freedom of choice and of speech,” said Monika Pieleszynska, a 43-year-old clerk.

Scores of prominent political figures joined the march, including leaders of some other opposition parties.

“We are ready to win, we are ready to form a democratic, European and modern government,” a co-leader of the New Left party Robert Biedron told the crowd.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2023

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