WARSAW — Tens of thousands of Poles have rallied across the country to protest the country’s new right-wing government and its tightening grip on power.
The central rally in Warsaw was interrupted early due to a bomb threat.
Former presidents Bronislaw Komorowski and Aleksander Kwasniewski led the crowd — of around 50,000 people according to protesters or 10,000 according to police — as they chanted “Freedom! Equality! Democracy!” and waved EU and Polish flags.
“I’m against this government. I didn’t vote for it. I believe they’re breaking laws,” said Dorota Leszkowicz, a 61-year-old retired psychologist who turned up dressed in the EU member state’s red and white colours.
Poles also massed in several other cities to mark the semi-free elections on June 4, 1989 — Poland’s first dose of democracy that heralded the peaceful demise of communist rule.
The rallies were organised by the Committee for the Defence of Democracy (KOD), a movement that sprung up in opposition to the policies adopted by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party that came into power in November.
The reforms, which give the Government more control over the media and other institutions while weakening the constitutional court, have alarmed critics at home and abroad.
“Basically, it’s the PiS takeover of everything,” said Bethann Hubert, a 52-year-old American living in Warsaw and a member of the KOD expat group.
“It’s scary to watch.”
The Government reforms have also drawn concern from the European Union, which on Wednesday issued an unprecedented warning to the ruling party to roll back its overhaul of the top Polish court or risk sanctions.
Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski downplayed the EU warning, calling it “a suggestion, which doesn’t oblige us to do anything”.
PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski told a party congress on Saturday that “Poles have a right to change”.
“They have the right to build [the country] anew and make it better, more advantageous for the clear majority of Poles,” he said.
In January the European Commission, the EU executive arm, launched a probe into whether Poland’s reforms violate EU democracy rules and merit punitive measures according to the “rule of law” mechanism Brussels introduced in 2014.
Sleeping in on weekends may help live longer
Sleep deprivation has been found to have numerous negative effects on a person’s health. But the new study has shown that sleeping more on the weekend might help ease health problems associated with not getting enough during the week, and even reduce the risk of an early death.
The study, published in Journal of Sleep Research by scientists from Sweden and the United States, suggested that the negative effects of a few nights of short sleep could be counteracted by staying in bed over the weekend.
The from the Stress Research Institute (SRI) at Stockholm University and the Karolinska Institute discovered that people below 65 years old who slept less than five hours on weekends had a higher risk of early death after examining medical and lifestyle data from more than 43,000 adults, following them for a period of 13 years.
For people who slept for less than five hours throughout the week but slept longer on the weekends for about nine hours, there was no increase in mortality risk. But, for people who consistently slept for less than five hours through the whole week, the mortality risk is higher.
Torbjorn Akerstedt, one of the authors of the research and a clinical neuroscience professor from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said that the findings were consistent with previous studies on the link between sleep duration and mortality.
However, those previous studies only focused on sleep during weekdays.
“The results imply that short sleep is not a risk factor for mortality if it is combined with a medium or long weekend sleep,” the researchers wrote in the study.Follow @gorkhapost