Parisian protests of Polish law: Interview with the Association for the Defence of Democracy in Poland

, by Jérôme Flury, translated by Martine Wilmes

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Parisian protests of Polish law: Interview with the Association for the Defence of Democracy in Poland
A banner for a demonstration against a bill tightening the prohibition of abortion, 2016. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

This article is a translation of an interview conducted by The New Federalist’s French partner webzine, Le Taurillon, in December 2020.

Ines L. is, by her own admission, a “true dual citizen”. She was born in France, but lived in Poland for 18 years with her parents, where she attended the Lycée français (the French School) in Warsaw. Later on, she returned to France for higher education. However, she has stayed close to her Polish roots and became involved with the ADDP [1]. Ines has been part of the organisation since its foundation, is a member of its committee, and demonstrated on 25th October in Paris. Le Taurillon went to meet her.

Le Taurillon : Hello Ines, what was your reaction when you learned about the Polish Constitutional Tribunal’s decision to declare abortion unconstitutional?

Ines L.: It was a mix of feelings. The first was rage. They have been trying to pass this law for four years, and we have been fighting against it for all that time. We are trying to mobilise as many people as possible, because if it goes through, there will be no stopping them.

I was angry, but I was also expecting it to a certain extent. The PIS (Polish Law and Justice party) has been insisting on this for so long. It is a logical continuation of everything they have put in place. They have attacked the legislature, the judiciary, the media… The fact of going through the constitutional court also upset me a bit.

Why have you decided to get involved in France and how did you organise the demonstration in Paris?

When I began to receive the first messages from my fellow ADDP members and my friends, I told myself that it was time to organise something. Ten of us started a conversation and said “let’s get going!” On Thursday 22nd October, when the Polish constitutional court made its decision, we all felt disappointed. However, we all wanted to do something.

The difficulty of being abroad is that there is no official establishment to turn to. This leads to a lot of dialogue and discussions, but our group has finally grown. With a friend from ADDP, we took the initiative to launch something in the name of the organisation. While we usually take time to organise things, we didn’t have any time to lose. We improvised, and it worked. It is also important to understand most of the people involved are frequent participants: they have been overseas activists for decades. They have networks.

We gathered in Les Invalides in Paris, outside the Polish embassy. We usually do this next to the statue of the Solidarność (Solidarity) monument. Demonstrations must be declared to the Prefecture at least three days in advance, but we managed to organise it in just two days. Fortunately, the authorities are familiar with the organisation, which reassured them.

Why do you think it is important to show your commitment while living abroad?

We may live in France but we are still Polish. We are a group of connected people, and we continue to worry about our country. Some of us plan to return one day. It’s hard to say to yourself “I don’t live there anymore, so I’ll pretend it doesn’t exist”. The idea is to show that we are Polish and that we are against what is happening there. For those living in Poland, seeing the support from fellow citizens in Paris, Berlin, or New York, demonstrates great solidarity. And in the other direction, when we saw thousands upon thousands of people occupying the city centre in Warsaw, we were pleased to see that in our home country they were also very mobilised.

When we gather in Paris, there are both Polish and French citizens. We chanted the same slogans as in Poland, but we also had to come up with some in French. Hence, we added some more universal ones, by chanting words like “freedom”. Sometimes, we also translated them, and some were just made up on the spot. We also need to remember to take into account the general situation regarding LGBT rights, attacks on democracy and the rule of law… We are in France, where not everyone is necessarily aware of the situation. This kind of demonstration is both an opportunity to show our solidarity with Poland, our disagreement with the authorities, and to address a number of important issues, thus attracting new people. It is not the few hundred Polish people in Paris that will change the situation, but we want to send a clear message to the establishment. We want to go beyond the symbolism and attract the attention of Europe. Even an MEP was there on the day of the event.

There was serious engagement on social media too. How are groups organised and what networks are there among Polish expats?

There is great solidarity amongst Polish people all over the world. The Polish diaspora is significant. They are a people who have been emigrating to different European countries and to the United States for a long time, en masse. It is important for Polish people in Poland to see that we are active elsewhere. Generally speaking, every country has its own groups on social media. The issues discussed vary: some are related to politics, others to cultural aspects, where you can talk about festivals and food.

In terms of activism, there are also divisions. In Poland alone, there are several different groups which Polish people living abroad are involved in, either as individuals or as organisations. Discussion groups are created in each country, there are sub-groups, European groups… Honestly, sometimes it is a mess. But in this kind of serious situation, even people who are usually less active are motivated to take action. As a matter of fact, we go to one, two, or even three groups as soon as we have to rally. Information is circulated quickly at both a European and global level. This is a situation that transcends borders.

[1] L’Association Défense de la Démocratie en Pologne (ADDP - Association for the Defense of Democracy in Poland) has demonstrated against the Polish anti-abortion law in Paris.


Your comments

Warning, your message will only be displayed after it has been checked and approved.

Who are you?

To show your avatar with your message, register it first on (free et painless) and don’t forget to indicate your Email addresse here.

Enter your comment here

This form accepts SPIP shortcuts {{bold}} {italic} -*list [text->url] <quote> <code> and HTML code <q> <del> <ins>. To create paragraphs, just leave empty lines.

Follow the comments: RSS 2.0 | Atom