Saturday marked 25 years since the bloodiest miners’ riot in Romania, a riot that left dozens of people dead, only 6 of whom have been identified so far, and 746 injured. The Miners’ Riot case was reopened in February this year.
The miners’ riot put an end to the anti-communist sit-in in University Square, a protest that started on April 22 with a PNTCD rally in Aviators’ Square. From that day on protesters permanently occupied University Square, their number growing by the day after Provisional National Union Council (CPUN) Head Ion Iliescu dubbed them “punks.”
Ion Iliescu and FSN won the general and presidential elections on 20 May 1990. People in University Square were protesting against the instauration of a “neo-communist” regime represented by Ion Iliescu and were asking for the implementation of Point 8 of the Timisoara Proclamation, the independence of the public television channel and the truth about the Revolution.
“Over one thousand persons – personalities but also simple citizens – talked from the balcony of the Geology Faculty, called “the rostrum of democracy,” and the University Square, declared “free of neo-communism” and “democracy’s ground zero” was transited by hundreds of thousands of people,” Mediafax informs.
On June 13, policemen destroyed the protesters’ tents and made arrests, sparking violent incidents. The headquarters of the Bucharest Police, Interior Ministry and Romanian Intelligence Service were attacked and set alight.
“It is clear we are facing an organized attempt to topple by force, through the violence unleashed, the leadership that was freely and democratically elected on 20 May 1990,” Ion Iliescu stated in a communiqué at the time. “We call on all aware and responsible forces to gather around the government’s building and the public television building in order to put an end to the forceful attempts of these extremist groups, in order to defend the hard-won democracy,” the communiqué read on public television and radio said.
On the evening of June 13, three trains full of miners left Petrosani for Bucharest and another one left the following day from Motru.
“I thank you for the workers’ solidarity you have shown at our behest on this occasion too. The miners’ delegation led by Mr. Cosma will go to University Square, a Square we want you to reoccupy,” Ion Iliescu stated from the Government’s balcony.
Under the pretext of restoring order, the miners vandalized the headquarters of institutions, occupied the Romanian public television and beat-up those whom they suspected of being intellectuals.
Investigations in the miners’ riot of June 13-15, 1990, were resumed in February this year, 25 years after the events, a period in which several decisions not to commence criminal prosecution were adopted, some of the victims receiving payment-of-damages decisions at the ECHR in the absence of court decisions in Romania.
21 December, 1989 Association marks 25 years since June 13-15, 1990 miners’ riots in Bucharest
The 21 December, 1989 Association on Saturday marked 25 years since the June 1990 miners’ riots with a public debate in Bucharest. Before the debate, the association laid a wreath at ground zero in University Square, to the memory of the heroes killed in June 1990.
Attending the event hosted by the main offices of the December 21, 1989 Association were Senator Radu F. Alexandru, political scientist Alexandru Gussi, Andrei Oisteanu of the Group for Social Dialogue, Chairman of the Scientific Board of the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile (IICCMER), Ph.D Nicolae Constantinescu, lawyers Antonie Popescu and Ionut Matei, as well as victims of the miners’ riots.
They talked about the violent actions of June 13-15, 1990 and the reopening a criminal investigation of the event at the suggestion of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), according to Agerpres.
The series of events commemorating the June 1990 miners’ riots continued with a show meeting in the evening at the Fountain of the University Square. According to organisers, invited to attend were friends and band mates of late folk singers Vali Sterian and Cristian Paturca, both known for their activism against the use of public force against civilians back in 1990s.
Petre Roman: It would have been better without the miners’ riot, but…
Asked whether he has any regrets for what happened those days, former Premier Petre Roman stated for Digi24 that “not from a legal point of view.” “From a political point of view, what persons close to you say is that you should only have let things be as they were and you would have had no headaches,” Roman said. The former Prime Minister admits that things would have been better without the miners’ riot however he has some hesitations. “It would have been better but, on the other hand, my whole turmoil had to do with entering democracy with the head held up high, we had elections, we have institutions, Parliament, President, everything, let’s enter with the head held up high, we will form a government, we will start doing a wonderful job, what is this mess?! This to understand my state of mind as Prime Minister,” the former Premier stated.
After the reopening of the miners’ riot case, in February 2015, which came about as a result of an ECHR decision, Petre Roman was no longer called to testify. His testimony given before a military prosecutor while he was Senate Speaker already exists.
Monica Macovei: “I repeatedly asked for the rapid finalization of investigations”
MEP Monica Macovei, former Justice Minister, warned in a message posted on Facebook that justice has not been served yet 25 years since the miners’ riot of June 13-15, 1990, and Romanians have the right to know their history and the guilty persons have to be punished.
“Romanians have the right to know their history. In June 1990 people were killed and beaten. The guilty ones have to be punished. I will insist a lot on finding out the truth. I have repeatedly asked, including Attorney General Tiberiu Nitu, for the rapid and credible finalization of investigations into the miners’ riot of June 13-15, 1990,” Monica Macovei wrote.
She emphasized that “during the miners’ riot of June 13-15, 1990, as a prosecutor I refused to issue arrest warrants for protesters. Other prosecutors however did and subsequently I decided to release from criminal prosecution the protesters who had cases opened on their names.”
Laszlo Tokes: Those who committed the crimes of communism have to be held accountable before the judiciary
MEP Laszlo Tokes stated on Saturday that the setting up of a court for the crimes of communism has been discussed in Brussels, adding: “now we are close to the dismissal of UTC (Union of Communist Youth – editor’s note) member Victor Ponta and to holding Ion Iliescu accountable.” He added that he continues to support democracy and fights against “backward power,” adding that those who committed the crimes of communism should be held accountable before the judiciary. MEP Laszlo Tokes took part, at the invitation of the Timisoara Society, in a debate organized on the 25th commemoration of the events that took place in Bucharest.
General Dan Voinea: “President Iliescu got personally involved in the act of repression”
Dan Voinea, the prosecutor who handled the miners’ riot case, claims that Ion Iliescu got personally involved in the “act of repression” in June 14-15 in University Square.
General (ret.) Dan Voinea states that former president Ion Iliescu “cannot avoid being convicted” based on the evidence that exists in the miners’ riot case, being “personally involved in the act of repression on June 14-15, he gave orders in this sense.”
“President Iliescu got personally involved in the act of repression that took place on June 14-15, he gave orders in this sense. Before that a secret meeting took place somewhere in Scrovistea, a meeting attended by Interior Minister Chitac, Police Chief Diamandescu, Petre Roman and Ion Iliescu. And they concretely established how the protesters in University Square would be attacked. A blueprint was even drawn-up; it is included in the case file. It is handwritten and it had directions for what each minister had to do. The Transport Minister had to bring to Bucharest the miners and workers, because there weren’t only miners,” Dan Voinea stated for gandul.info.