A festive meeting dedicated to the marking of 24 years since the start of the Romanian Revolution in December 1989 took place yesterday at the Timisoara City Hall.
Twenty-four years ago, on December 15, several hundred parishioners of reformed pastor Laszlo Tokes lit candles and prayed in the center of the city in order for him not to be evicted and transferred to a different city as a result of a court ruling. The pastor had criticized the Ceausescu regime in the international press. On December 16 hundreds of locals gathered again in downtown Timisoara, chanting slogans against the Ceausescu regime and trying to set fire to the Communist party’s local headquarters.
Police forces intervened against the protesters, using tear gas and batons. Many protesters were arrested, shop windows were broken, shops looted, pictures of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu torn.
On the night of December 16-17, pastor Tokes was taken to Salaj County. On the morning of December 17 the protesters took to the streets once more, chanting “down with Ceausescu,” “down with communism,” “don’t be afraid.” The protesters forced their way into the headquarters of the County Committee and threw communist documents and symbols out the windows.
At the same time, armored vehicles and columns of soldiers were deployed on the streets of Timisoara in order to restore order. Likewise, several army generals and officers were ordered by Ceausescu to Timisoara, including Victor Athanasie Stanculescu and Mihai Chitac. Moreover, Ceausescu convened an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Political Committee of the Romanian Communist Party’s (PCR) Central Committee in Bucharest. At the meeting he ordered the soldiers to be handed weapons and to open fire.
A state of emergency was declared in Timisoara on December 18, 1989. On the same day, a group of young men raised the new flag on the steps of the Timisoara Cathedral and started to sing “Desteapta-te romane,” a song banned in 1947. The regime forces shot at them. Dozens of youngsters died in the incident, others were injured, while several others managed to flee. On the night of December 18 to 19 the bodies were secretly taken from the local hospital and transported to Bucharest where they were cremated. According to the representatives of the “Memorialul Revolutiei” Association, approximately one hundred people died in Timisoara. According to them, 73 were killed and 296 injured on December 16-22, while another 20 were killed and 77 injured after December 22.
On December 20 the center of Timisoara was occupied by hundreds of thousands of persons, most of them factory workers, who chanted: “the army is with us,” “fear not, Ceausescu will fall.” The revolution that started in Timisoara continued in Bucharest and in several other cities such as Arad, Sibiu, Targu Mures, Brasov, Cluj-Napoca, Alba Iulia and Buzau.