(New York, NY) — The police-led crackdown on reproductive rights demonstrators in Poland is a serious assault on freedom of expression, PEN America said today. PEN America condemns the use of excessive force and stands with Polish PEN and the people of Poland in defending their right to express themselves without retaliation from the state.

“The use of state police to crack down on peaceful protestors and limit freedom of expression is, and will always be, totally unacceptable,” said Polina Sadovskaya, PEN America’s Eurasia director. “Since the protests started in late October, authorities have demonstrated their willingness to threaten the most basic rights of their citizens. Polish PEN notes that this escalation is a worrisome echo of darker moments in Poland’s history; such mistakes of the past must not be repeated. We join our colleagues in Polish PEN in calling on Polish authorities to halt the excessive use of force and hold officers accountable for any violations of the rights of journalists and peaceful protesters.”

Police detained several people Monday as the mostly women-led protests flared up in Warsaw and across Poland. The demonstrations have been a regular occurrence since Poland’s constitutional court issued a decision that would further tighten already restrictive laws around reproductive freedom.