“Everything was peaceful and suddenly the police came out of nowhere, there were loud bangs, the police started using gas and simply provoking people…”

2024-03-09 09:00:58

Just before I left on my vacation, demonstrations by farmers across Europe had made an impact, as the European Parliament nixed some of its unrealistic green plans for a global utopia. Gone, for example, are rules to force the reduction of nitrogen (essential for fertilizers) and methane (generated by cattle) and plans to persuade European citizens to eat less meat. At least for now.

Protests are continuing, and in Poland, there are reports that farmers clashed with police.

Police used tear gas and said they detained over a dozen people and prevented the protesters from getting through to the Sejm, the Polish parliament.

Farmers are angry over European Union climate policies and food imports from Ukraine that they say threaten their livelihoods. Such protests have occurred across the 27-member EU in recent weeks, but this one was decidedly angrier than earlier demonstrations in the central European nation.

Police noted on the social media platform X that its officers “are not a party to the ongoing dispute” and warned that behavior threatening their safety “cannot be taken lightly and requires a firm and decisive response.”

The deputy agriculture minister, Michał Kołodziejczak, said he didn’t believe that “real, normal farmers caused a riot in front of the Sejm today,” and that it was necessary to isolate “provocateurs and troublemakers.”

However, representatives for the protesting farmers dispute the official accounts.

Tomasz Obszanski, a farmers’ union leader and protest organiser told Reuters that police began blocking protesters from leaving as the demonstration ended.

“Everything was peaceful and suddenly the police came out of nowhere, there were loud bangs, the police started using (tear) gas and simply provoking people leaving the protest,” said Obszanski, leader of the NSZZ RI Solidarnosc union for individual farmers.

. . . . Obszanski said that the farmers were leaving Warsaw empty handed after their request to meet with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk was turned down and warned of further measures.

“After what happened today, there will be a blockade of the entire country … Poland will come to a standstill, because a Polish farmer will not allow himself to be treated in such a way, to be batonned,” Obszanski said.

Tusk has invited farmers leaders for talks on Saturday.

Obszanski estimated the number of protesters was in the high tens of thousands, while Warsaw city officials said they numbered about 30,000.

I will simply note that Poland recently elected a “centrist” government, with a leader strongly connected to the European elites.

Donald Tusk, a leader of a centrist party, returned as Poland’s prime minister for the first time in nearly a decade after a vote in parliament on Monday, paving the way for a new pro-European Union government following eight years of stormy national conservative rule.

Tusk, a former EU leader who served as European Council president from 2014-2019 and has strong connections in Brussels, is expected to improve Warsaw’s standing in the bloc’s capital. He was Poland’s prime minister from 2007-2014.

Meanwhile, Czech farmers dumped manure in front of the government’s office, blocked Prague streets with tractors, and taunted their farm minister.

Czech farmers, in their third protest since mid-February, rolled into Prague early on Thursday in hundreds of tractors, lining streets and a river road leading to the government offices, bringing traffic to a standstill in several spots.

Police said farmers dumped manure in front of government headquarters, leading to one arrest.

Farmers marched on foot before midday to protest in front of the government building, where they used whistles and sirens while shouting “shame” amid scattered hay bales and waving signs saying “Don’t take our jobs”.

“The government should take farmers’ demands seriously. Not only in the Czech Republic, but around Europe the future of farming is playing out,” 50-year-old farmer Ivo Kasal said.


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