Anti-Government Protests In Romania. Again.
You might remember some months back, the winter of 2017 when Romanians took to the streets by the millions to protest against governmental measures. Not much has changed since then. Corruption is still weakening the system, few governments have been changed, Dragnea, the leader of the Social Democratic Party, is still in charge. Actually, the entire upheaval has happened because he controls much of the state and he is using this control to shield himself from jail.
Even if the noise made by Romanians in the winter of 2017 has slowly turned into a background hum, we have not given in, we have not given up. Facebook, as rotten as it is, still helps a lot, groups created in 2017 are still very active in spreading information about the latest changes in the political system. Information is accessible.
Thanks to these groups Romanians everywhere have organized the Diaspora protest on the 10th of August in Bucharest. Tens of thousands, if not hundreds, have crossed the Romanian borders before this date. Romanian flags and the otherwise obscene words that have become a leitmotif, #muiepsd, (translation: fuck you, Social Democratic Party) are ubiquitous among them.
Yesterday, the 10th of August, the day of the protests, between 150.000 – 200.000 people gathered in Victory Square in Bucharest and in many other main cities. Following the peaceful exercise from one a half years ago, people brought their kids, there were many elderly and women. Big mistake. They did not guess what the Romanian Police Forces (Gendarmerie) had in store for them: tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons.
Why it happened
I think the Social Democratic Party, ruled by Liviu Dragnea, is indeed afraid of the people. Prior to the diaspora coming home, there have been several social democratic outlets disrespectfully addressing this matter. Romanians working abroad and sending money home were publicly labeled as “ass-wipers”, “strawberry-pickers”, etc, of course, the translation is much more colorful in Romanian.
Probably remembering that the diaspora had a major say in the last presidential elections, the fear of what might happen when the diaspora gets involved (de)generated in orders to disperse the crowd protesting in Bucharest no matter what.
In the 2017 protests, people demonstrated peacefully and the football galleries infiltrated among them were successfully isolated by the police forces. This time, the 30-40 agitators were allowed to wreak havoc from the earlier stages of the protest. This constituted a motive for the gendarmes to intervene with tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets. Innocent, peaceful people were hurt by the thousands. Remarkably, they kept reclaiming the protest after the gasses dispersed, shouting “We’re not giving in!”.
And that is not even the worst that happened. I have seen a few videos where armed men were beating up men with raised hands saying “I am going home”. How can you do that and call yourself ‘a person’?
In these circumstances, in any civilized country, some heads should fall. I am, of course, talking figuratively. The Minister for Internal Affairs, the Head of Gendarmerie, somebody has to answer, for real, for this irrational thug-like behavior of the ones who should protect the people, not coalize against them. I do have doubts that any of these will happen though. It really seems like everything has been staged to frame this protest as a violent side of the opposition, of the ‘parallel state’, as they call it.
My Facebook wall is full of brave people I am proud to call my friends, who were there, whose stories give me goosebumps. My heart goes out to them, for their tenacity, courage, and devotion they showed yesterday. You look so incredibly beautiful! I am proud of you, my people, and sorry I cannot be there, with you.
Photo credit: Reuters