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January 16, 2022

Iohannis on former political prisoners: A monument of sacrifice, a symbol of opposition to totalitarian regime

President Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday decorated three former political prisoners – Elena Ion Arnautoiu, Nicolae Ciurica and Nicolae Tomaziu – saying about them that they are “a monument of sacrifice and suffering, a living symbol of the opposition to the totalitarian regime.”

“Let me congratulate you for this decoration that rewards the undeniable courage you displayed by opposing the communist regime! They say that great resistance and big hurdles in this world only oppose a great will. You are a monument of sacrifice and suffering, a living symbol of the opposition to the totalitarian regime, which has earned my esteem and the esteem of today’s generations. Please, accept these decorations as modest acknowledgment of your sufferings! Although you embody three different destinies, there is unfortunately one common denominator: your suffering because of your exemplary deeds,” Iohannis told the three former political prisoners to whom he awarded the Faithful Service in rank of Knights decorations.

He said the three have sacrificed their families and their lives, and yet, the communist authorities failed to suppress their dignity and belief in freedom.

“It is our duty to pass on these values to today’s generations and the generations to come. Only this way can we avoid in the future authoritarian or totalitarian tendencies. On my first day as Romania’s president, I decorated a former political prisoner. That is how I chose to start my tenure, because I set back then and promised to honour all the values of the Romanian society. And former political prisoners are an example for altruism and tenacity. You were persecuted by the Securitate [political police] and subjected to inhuman detention, yet you continued to fight and strongly believe in truth and freedom,” said Iohannis.

He added “your names and the names of all those who sacrificed themselves for today’s generations should never be forgotten. They are an example for the fight against injustices and tyranny.”

Elena Arnautoiu mentioned the sufferings of her family under the communist regime.

“This decoration is for my parents and my brothers. For Mum, Laurentia, and for Dad, teacher Ion Arnautoiu of Nucsoara. Mum stayed about 10 years in detention and died in the jailhouse of Miercurea Ciuc. Dad was sentenced to 17 years in prison and died in the prison of Botosani. They both lived to be more than 80 years old. For my brothers, Toma and Petre Arnautoiu, commanders of the resistance groups in the mountains, the outlaws of Nucsoara who, after nine years in the mountains, putting up with cold and poverty, were told on by their best friend, trialed and sentenced to death, executed at Jilava. Another 14 persons who had been with them in the mountains met the same fate,” said Arnautoiu.

She added that one of her brothers, Ioan Arnautoiu, died in WWII in Crimea and his tomb is unknown.

“They deserve this decoration and also those who died in labour camps and prisons for their special faith. They did not die for their wealth, but defending the faith and dignity of the Romanian people (…) I would like our successors to remember history and the sacrifice of their forerunners,” said Elena Arnautoiu.

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