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June 25, 2022
Social WORLD

Romanians protest in London against “The Romanians Are Coming” documentary series

Romanians took to the streets on Sunday in London, protesting against Channel 4’s “The Romanians Are Coming” documentary series. “We are protesting against the way in which Channel 4 presented the Romanian immigration issue. We consider that the manner in which the documentary was presented is unfair to the Romanians living and working in the UK,” reads the Silent protest @Channel 4 Facebook page. “The protest should be silent, so we won’t shout, scream, sing; we want to show them we are not like they show us to be. Have a sort of business attire,” the protest’s page reads.

The first episode of the “The Romanians Are Coming” documentary series broadcast last week by Britain’s Channel 4 presented the cases of three Romanian immigrants from their point of view, not the point of view of press articles on immigration.

Alex Fechete Petru, also a Romanian, is the narrator of the first episode broadcast last Tuesday by Britain’s Channel 4. He talks about the 20,000 Romanians that arrived in Great Britain last year, most of them contributing to the prosperity of the British economy, ‘The Independent’ writes on its website, being quoted by Mediafax.

“But I don’t want to lie to you, there are some Romanians that come with no jobs and nowhere to live. And it’s Gypsies like these that scare you,” he stated. The documentary series presented precisely the stories of three such persons. Alex (not the same with the narrator) is a Romanian that moved to Great Britain from Canada, where he lived several years. He speaks perfect English, with Canadian accent, currently works as street cleaner and sleeps in a parking lot near Victoria Station.

Things are even worse for Sandu, the father of nine, who came from one of Romania’s poorest areas in order to look for a job, accompanied by his eldest son. “Their English is so bad they wouldn’t understand even if they were offered a job,” the narrator points out.

Stefan seemed to most closely resemble the bogeyman of UKIP’s nightmares. As soon as he receives the social benefits money he sends it home to his family. When Alex asked Stefan where he believes the money came from, he randomly guessed: “The EU?” The more is revealed about his home situation, the failed surgery that had left his young daughter unable to walk, the more he seemed like a father doing what any other father would in the same set of desperate circumstances. At any rate, as Alex the narrator pointed out, Stefan is in the minority. Less than 2,500 Romanians are on social benefits in Great Britain, and the documentary promises more representative stories in the future, Mediafax informs.

The documentary series about Romanian immigrants is broadcast by Channel 4 and 4Seven. According to Channel 4, the documentary is analyzing the lives of Romanians who settle down in Great Britain, trying to reveal the truth behind press articles on immigration.


Ambassador Ion Jinga expresses surprise and disappointment


Romanian Ambassador Ion Jinga expressed his “surprise and extreme disappointment” with the way Romanians living in Great Britain are presented by the Channel 4 documentary, being of the opinion that presenting only negative aspects is unfair and discriminatory.

“Following Channel 4’s publication of the synopsis of the documentary, Romanian Ambassador to London Dr. Ion Jinga sent a letter to show producer Katie Buchanan, expressing his surprise and disappointment with the content of the advertisement message and, at the same time, the hope that the situation will be addressed, that the documentary will have objective content and will not present a distorted image of the entirety of the Romanian community in Great Britain,” reads a communiqué posted on the website of the Romanian Embassy in London.

The diplomatic mission pointed out that it took notice of Channel 4’s initiative of broadcasting the documentary series. The ambassador considers that the documentary presents “only negative aspects that are isolated and not representative for the Romanian communiqué,” which is “unfair and extremely discriminatory.”

At the same time, Jinga claimed that he received messages from Romanians living in Great Britain, Romanians who expressed their outrage with Channel 4’s presentation in a country “admired for the whole world for its model of democracy where citizens are treated with respect irrespective of nationality, race, sex or religion.”

According to the Embassy, in the response sent to the Romanian ambassador, the producer of the documentary series pointed out that the series reflects the experience of Romanian citizens who, despite coming from different social strata, arrive in Great Britain in order to engage in lucrative activities. Referring to the first episode of the series, broadcast on Tuesday, the Romanian Embassy in London is not able to comment on the opinions and life experiences presented, considering that “both the narrator and the characters of the documentary series are Romanian citizens that recount their life stories which are often sad and emotional.” The Romanian Embassy however considers that this first episode is not representative for the Romanian community in Great Britain, bearing in mind that it illustrates only a numerically insignificant social segment. “In their immense majority, Romanian citizens are well integrated in British society and stand out at their workplaces through professionalism, being appreciated by British employers,” the embassy points out, expressing its hope that the following episodes will present “in a balanced and representative manner, the real image of the entire Romanian community in Great Britain.”


Ion Jinga: ‘Only together we can gain the respect that our community deserves”


Ion Jinga also had a message for the Romanian community in Great Britain, after Channel 4 broadcast the first episode of the “The Romanians Are Coming” series. He pointed out that the embassy received messages from many Romanians living in Great Britain and not only from them, emphasizing that he answered each one of them, publishing a response in this sense.

“I want to thank all those who wrote to the Romanian Embassy on this issue. Any civilized message that reflects the legitimate preoccupation toward the image of the community we are all part of and of the country whose citizens we are shows that we care. (…) All our fellow citizens who, through their way of working and behaving in Great Britain, are respected in the communities in which they live deserve our appreciation. Like I said countless times, abroad every Romanian is his country’s ambassador,” the Romanian ambassador to London stated.

He pointed out that the embassy and the ambassador reacted “every time we noticed, or were informed of situations in which Romanians were insulted, treated unjustly, humiliated.”

“I know the Romanian community’s efforts to fit in nicely within the majority population. For seven years I have travelled across Great Britain in order to meet Romanians and defend their rights before authorities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I have talked to thousands of students, doctors, professionals in various domains, or workers. We have Romanian parishes everywhere, we have warm-hearted, gifted priests with high moral bearing, and the Sunday masses in our churches are the best opportunity to meet the Romanians who are busy with the hard work of earning their living during the week. (…) I believe it is also the duty of the Romanian community to react to distorting messages like the one recently promoted by Channel 4. The Romanian community is an integral part and contributor of added value to this country’s cultural diversity. Only together we can gain the respect that our community deserves,” Ion Jinga added.

He also stated that there are a lot of Romanians that enjoy credibility and respect in the communities in which they live, as well as the British people’s admiration. “It’s not enough to send an email asking “What is the embassy doing?”. We need to show that Romanians are united and proud, that we represent a great nation. I believe the ingredients of success in such an initiative are: solidarity, cohesion, overcoming the damaging and unjustified complex of the periphery, respect toward self and toward other Romanians. We need to respect each other in order to be able to ask others to respect us,” the Romanian ambassador concluded.


Bogdan Diaconu: ‘What kind of protest notes would you receive if a documentary similar to Channel 4’s was broadcasted in Romania?’


The independent MP Bogdan Diaconu, who is also the leader of the United Romania Party (PRU), has called upon Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu to take steps to block ‘The Romanians are coming’ documentary of British Channel 4 TV station, which reportedly turns Romanian nationals into ‘targets of public scorn’. ‘Under these conditions, I am demanding that you take action at the highest level to stop the broadcasting of the documentary and start an official protest on behalf of the Romanian State to the public bemiring of the image of Romanian nationals living abroad, with the same energy and determination with which the British diplomacy would respond if TVR described the British citizens who come to Romania as drunks and pedophiles just because there have been such documented cases. Please make an exercise of imagination and think of the protest notes you would receive if a documentary similar to the one produced by Channel 4 was broadcasted by the public television station in Romania on the British who visit Romania, showing images with the partying citizens of the named state who, inebriated, howl on the streets in the old town in Bucharest on the occasion of various football matches or on concrete cases of British people who traveled to Romania for pedophilia – and there are quite enough – and the whole British people was identified with those persons and with those behaviors’, Diaconu’s interpellation of FM Bogdan Aurescu states.


Mircea Dolha: ‘I urge Romanian Government to make an intervention at highest political and diplomatic level’


MP Mircea Dolha (PNL) expresses, in a communiqué, his solidarity with the protest of Romanians in the UK.

‘As a member of the Romanian Parliament and Vice-President of the Committee for Romanian communities abroad, I declare my solidarity with the protest organized today in front of Channel 4, the British TV station that broadcasts the series of documentaries The Romanians Are Coming’, Dolha states. ‘I urge the Romanian Government – Foreign Affairs Minister Bogdan Aurescu and Minister for the Diaspora, Angel Tîlvăr, to have an official intervention on this matter of national interest, at the highest political and diplomatic level, to stop the denigration of the Romanian community in England and beyond. ‘The protest in London today is an alarm signal sent by our co-nationals who are on their own in their fight with discrimination, with no support from the relevant authorities and almost at the upper limit of bearability, almost defeated by the lack of action and representation of Romania regarding its citizens who are based abroad’, the MP’s message reads.



Victor Ponta: ‘I express my solidarity with the Romanians participating in this protest’


Prime-Minister Victor Ponta has also reacted to the documentary on his Twitter account where he states: ‘I express my solidarity with the Romanians participating in this protest to the partisan report on our citizens’. Victor Ponta has sent the same message to British PM David Cameron.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE) notes the first episode of the series of reports broadcast by the British Channel 4 TV station is not representative of the Romanian community in that country and just illustrates a narrow socials segment.

‘Following the publication of the report presentation summary, at the instructions of MAE leadership, the Romanian ambassador to London immediately sent a letter to the producer of the show of the private TV channel, Katie Buchanan, expressing our surprise and disappointment regarding the content of the promotion message which does not reflect the correct image of the Romanian community in Great Britain’, MAE release quoted by Agerpres states.

Photo source: www.stiridiaspora.com



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