Location Romania Romania

What does it happen in Romania? The January 2017 protests

by Ana Bazac

On 18 January 2017, the Government has imposed two projects of Emergency Ordinances: stipulating the pardon of the most important corruptions acts, and abolishing the conflict of interest and the abuse of office as corruption guilt, as well as any possibility of recovery of the material prejudices from the culprits. The two ordinances had, certainly, in view many members of the political “elite” – and this “dedication” has generated legitimate emotions – but people were indignant against the open infringement of the principles of the law which constitute a necessary form of their defence. The law is, obviously (and people understand this), the result of relations of forces, but to annul just the elements which represent the public control over the rulers and allow their punishment is a sign of extreme arrogance on behalf of them.

People began to manifest. Showing a full disdain towards them, the Government has decided, in the night of 31 January to February 1, to transform one ordinance into a project of law to be discussed and easy approved in the Parliament, and to send the other ordinance to be published in the Official Monitor and thus to come into force, at least for the present defendants and delinquents, even if it would be abolished. (This is the provision of the Romanian law).

From the night of 31 on, big crowds of people (about 300 000) have protested every evening not only in Bucharest, but also in many other cities and towns. The protests were absolutely peaceful, but in the night of 2 January, when people began to leave the square in front of the government building, a group of about 30 hooligans came from outside and began to throw cocktails Molotov to the gendarmes. These ones have, first, secured the crowd and then managed to annihilate the hooligans, arresting some of them. Later on, in the night, some young protesters came to the square and cleaned it. Up till now, one does not know who was behind the hooligans.

Yesterday (4 February) in the morning tens of mothers with children came to the square. In the afternoon, the Social-Democratic Party (SDP) forming the Government has announced that it would be possible “to retract” the ordinances and at the same time began to threaten with a huge counter-manifestation of the SDP members brought in Bucharest by train and buses. (But in every city the protesters belonged to that city).

But people continued to flow in the streets and to the square, as in other cities, and in the evening the prime-minister has announced that he will repeal the ordinance. People have continued to stay in the square and will continue until the publication of the abrogation in the official Monitor.

These are the facts until now.

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