Protesters demand justice for 1989 dead 

Protesters demand justice for 1989 dead 

The Romanian capital, Bucharest, hosted thousands of protesters yesterday (Sunday) to remember those who died in the revolution 30 years ago against dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

After a minute’s silence in Revolution Square, hundreds of balloons, which organisers said represented the 1,142 deaths during the uprising.

President Klaus Iohannis and several ministers laid wreaths and lit candles at a monument. 

“We want to know the truth about December 1989,” Iohannis said. “We want the guilty to be judged and for justice to be done.”

Former president Ion Iliescu is on trial accused of crimes against humanity for his alleged role during the revolution.

Former deputy prime minister Gelu Voican Voiculescu and ex-air force chief Iosif Rus are also accused of crimes against humanity. 

The trial will see more than 5,000 people testify. Iliescu and the other defendants are accused of deliberately creating an atmosphere of chaos in order to take power, resulting in hundreds of deaths.

“We still hope that, after 30 years, we are going to find the truth about the revolution and it is the authorities’ duty to do so,” said one woman attending the anniversary. 

Until December 22, 1989, Ceausescu gave the order to the security forces to fire on protesters.

But most of the victims died after he had been removed from power and when Iliescu had taken over. His trial began in November.

The 1989 revolution began on December 15 in the western city of Timisoara before spreading to Bucharest six days later.

On December 21, 1989, Ceausescu gave a televised speech in Bucharest that ended was drowned out by the angry crowd. 

Factory workers had been bussed into the main square for Ceausescu’s speech in an attempt to rally his supporters. However, the crowd turned against the dictator, chanting “Timisoara” where demonstrations began.

He fled the balcony and people flooded the streets, confronted by the armed forces. 

Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were arrested on December 22 and executed by firing squad on Christmas Day.

Born in 1918, Ceausescu became president of Romania in 1974 and built up a cult of personality.

An election held six months after the revolution voted in Iliescu, a former Communist Party chief and then leader of the new The National Salvation Front, as president. 

Prosecutors are investigating numerous people for deaths in the system, after a long inquiry by investigators from the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes, a government organisation looking into abuses under communism. Florin Soare, an investigator for the institute who spent several years gathering testimony, estimates that between 1966 and 1989 there were between 15,000 and 20,000 unnecessary deaths of largely disabled children in Romanian children’s homes.

 

Timisoara in 1989. Picture credit: Wikimedia 

 

 

 

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