#colectiv – Two Years After
It seems superfluous to write yet another story about Colectiv, the club from Bucharest where 27 people were burned alive two years ago. In the aftermath of the fire 37 more people died due to infections acquired in hospitals and another one committed suicide this year. It seems superfluous, but I think it is necessary for Romanians to be reminded and for non-Romanians to learn about it. Yes, I am publicly shaming my country, that cancerous part of it, the faces in charge, the ones who perpetuate it.
I don’t know what this text will be about. I am just hoping that it will unfold as I go.
For those who don’t know, what is Colectiv drama about?
Two years ago, during a concert of the rock band Goodbye to Gravity, the pyrotechnic show started a fire. The club, a box with only one functional way out, no safety doors, walls tapped with flammable material, immediately became hell.
27 people were burned alive. 37 made it out and died in the hospital, hours, days, weeks later. Their death was, in some cases, caused by lack of proper medical equipment and contraction of infections. At the time when asked if hospitals had everything they need to treat the wounded, the Minister of Health, Nicolaie Banicioiu, said “no worries”.
Massive street protests followed the Colectiv incident. The at-the-time Prime Minister, Victor Ponta, resigned. A new technocrat government was formed. It probably was the only decent government Romania had after the fall of communism in 1989. Numerous reforms were initiated, especially in the health department, where Vlad voiculescu, the technocrat Minister of Health did wonders to untangle the jungle that is the public health system in Romania. Unfortunately, the year the technocrats governed, was not enough to change things.
2016 was an electoral year. The Social Democratic Party won the elections. Since then, they managed to change two prime ministers, face the biggest protests in the history of modern Romania (in winter 2017) and basically undo all the good things in the health and justice departments their predecessors had done.
Who cares about the Colectiv victims in all this chaos?
After two years the incident has not been pinned on anyone. Maybe it’s not even right to do so, I don’t know. For the sake of the victims, their families, someone’s head should be on a stick, yes. But if I come to think about it, we are all guilty for what happened. Why you ask?
Simply because we don’t do enough. And by not doing enough we are conspiring to crime.
Our memories are short and we seem to be making the same choices hoping something better will come out of them. That is the definition of insanity.
In my bubble, most of my people think the same as I do. We are the ones who got the technocrats to govern for a year following the Colectiv incident, we are the ones who marched the streets in winter against abusive laws that castrated the justice system. But how do I go outside my bubble? How do I convince other people it is wrong to vote the assholes who promise the world and never deliver? How do I fight populism? I am so tired and frustrated and angry!
I am ashamed for any of the feelings I might have. When I look at the survivors from that horrendous day two years ago, all my feelings become futile and I am in awe of these people, these fighters. I think it takes a superhuman strength to live in the aftermath of this tragedy. Not just because of the physical impact it had on their lives – they are literally scarred for life, but also the psychological damage of the tortuous treatments they endured during the healing process. Alexandra Furnea related this heartbreaking experience from those days.
And now the bigger picture. Imagine you’ve been through all that suffering and you go around and still see the corrupted scrupulous political figures who stuff their pockets.
How is it that the survivors of Colectiv keep walking day by day? What kind of a superhuman power do they have? How come they do not become our role models? How come they don’t become the face of the next revolution?