Thousands of people protested on Saturday in Bucharest and in other cities of the country, against the Laws on Justice, of the Criminal Codes, and against introducing Form 600. The mobilization of the participants was done on the social networks, the protest being announced since December.
On Friday, Bucharest Gendarmerie sent a video message on its Facebook page, calling for peaceful demonstrations. The institution mentioned that it is equidistant and it guarantees the constitutional rights of the citizens, as long as they are demonstrating peacefully, recommending the protesters to be civilized and to follow the indications of the law enforcement.
On January 18, one year has elapsed since the biggest protests in Romania since the Revolution, which brought hundreds of thousands of people out in the street; the images with the lights of the mobile phones in Victoriei Square were seen worldwide. “The demonstrations started two weeks after the appointment of the PSD-ALDE Government led by Sorin Grindeanu, and they were caused by the Government’s intention to pardon certain sentences and to amend the Criminal Codes. While around 5,000 people came out in the street in the first day, January 18, of which approx. 4,000 people were in Bucharest, the protests grew in the whole Romania in the next days, especially after the Government issued GEO 13 amending the Criminal Codes, in the night of January 31” according to news.ro.
Foreign press on the protests in Romania
More than 10,000 Romanians are protesting in Bucharest and across the country against the amendments on the Laws on Justice, Associated Press reported on Saturday, being quoted by several publications around the world. Euronews broadcasted live the Bucharest protest on Facebook.
According to AP, the protesters in Bucharest had a brief altercation with the law enforcement, before starting to march to the Parliament Palace.
Protesters in Bucharest shouted “Thieves, thieves”, according to AP, which underlines that other demonstrations are also taking place in Cluj, Timisoara and Iasi.
AP reminds that a series of protests took place in Romania last year, too.
In a live broadcast from Bucharest, journalist Hans Von der Brelie marched with the protesters and provided information on the demonstration in Romania’s capital.
France Presse Agency wrote that 30,000 Romanians protested in Bucharest and in the big cities against corruption and a controversial reform on justice, which is wished by the majority left.
“We are here to ask our leaders not to bring any harm to justice” stated businessman Marius Constantin, aged 49, who came from Sibiu for this demonstration.
AFP reports that these demonstrations take place a few days after the forced resignation of the Social Democrat PM Mihai Tudose and the appointment of the MEP Viorica Dancila, who supports the controversial laws, as the head of the Government
The French agency points out that 5,000 people have demonstrated in Cluj and Timisoara, while 3,000 protested in Iasi.
The protests in Romania are also mentioned by nydailynews.com, which reports that besides the thousands of people in Bucharest, other people have also protested in Cluj, Timisoara, Constanta, Bacau, Sibiu and Iasi.
The Guardian and New York Times also reported about the protests in Romania, underlining that thousands of people gathered to demonstrate against corruption and the Laws on Justice.
“Thousands of people have marched on the Bucharest streets in a protest against the Laws on Justice. An estimated 50,000 people marched towards parliament, blowing whistles and chanting “thieves”. Protesters briefly scuffled with riot police as they massed in the capital’s University Square, while thousands more demonstrated in cities across Romania” The Guardian wrote, taking the information from Reuters and Associated Press.
At the end of the article, The Guardian mentions that Transparency international ranks Romania among the EU’ most corrupt states.
New York Times also wrote about the large protests in Romania, attended by hundreds of thousands of people.
Massive protests took place in Bucharest, where thousands of people gathered in the Constitution Square, where only AC/DC or Andre Rieu succeeded to gather so many people, Deutsche Welle wrote.
Al-Jazeera also reported about the demonstrations in Romania, where “50,000 people have marched to the parliament from the important University Square”. (Source: news.ro)
Ecaterina Andronescu about the protests: If these demonstrations accredit the idea that Romania is unstable, that it is an ungovernable country, everyone loses
PSD Senator and Vice Chair of the party stated for Digi24 that the Saturday’s protests in Bucharest and in the country can affect Romania’s image abroad, and she said that if they accredit he idea that Romania is an unstable and ungovernable country, everyone loses. PSD Senator also said that she wants an independent justice and she doesn’t see “which are the articles affecting the independence of Justice”, referring to the criticisms of the protesters against the Laws on Justice.
“I am not worried that people came out in the street for these demonstrations. It’s their right to protest against things that dissatisfy them. If these demonstrations cause the instability of the country, if they send the message abroad that Romania is an ungovernable country, all those who probably urged people to come out in the street should assume responsibility” Andronescu commented about the protests that took place on Saturday evening in Bucharest and across the country.
She claimed that certain mayors have paid the transportation of those who came out in the street.
“I can send you the messages saying that certain mayors – I give you the example of a message received by someone in Roman – have paid the transportation of those who came out in the street. If they come out in the street because they are dissatisfied, it’s their constitutional right and we must respect them” the PSD Senator claimed.
Being asked on the impressions of the international press about the demonstrations, Ecaterina Andronescu answered: “If these demonstrations accredit the idea that Romania is unstable, that it is an ungovernable country, everyone loses. I believe there is no Romanian citizen who benefits from a poor image going from the country abroad. We have the obligation to respect the country’s image and not to cause the feeling that we are an ungovernable country”.
Asked to argue her opinion, Andronescu added that “it’s not a positive image about Romania, and if this image turns into a message of instability, everyone loses”.
Regarding the Laws on Justice, which are one of the reasons of the protests, she said that the three laws that have been approved by the parliament are far from being entered into force, since they are on CCR’s table, and the Criminal Codes weren’t amended. She said that protests shouldn’t affect CCR in any way, they shouldn’t be a pressure.
Investigations at the Bucharest Gendarmerie, after a gendarme hit several protesters
The gendarme filmed while punching several protesters that were trying to get into the road is subject to internal investigations. Bucharest Gendarmerie mentions that pressure on riot police that is present at such events can cause such a behavior.
The institution mentioned on Sunday that it will make an analysis after more images with a gendarme hitting several people who participated in the Saturday’s protest were revealed to the public. His reaction was caused by the protesters’ attempt to remove the delimitation fence installed by the riot police.
“It was an individual act of a gendarme who was part of a group of several gendarmes. We will make an analysis on the way of action” stated the Spokesman of the Bucharest Gendarmerie, Georgian Enache, for MEDIAFAX.
According to the images revealed to the public, several protesters who participated on Saturday evening in the protest at the University Square tried to remove the fence installed by gendarmes, in order to get into the road. The gendarmes tried to prevent them to block the road, and one of them punched several protesters.
Gendarmerie about the aggressive gendarme: Pressure can cause such a behavior
“For those people who are not used to the dynamic of such an extremely complex mission, we inform you that the public order formations have self-regulation mechanisms during their mission. There are cases when the gendarmes in the first line, who stood many hours in the formation, on their feet, in extreme weather conditions, can be subject to extremely high pressure that can cause such a behavior. The liability of this punctual action of a gendarme will be established by the internal investigations. However, explanations are needed in order to understand the entire context and not to judge distortedly a public order mission that, as a whole, was conducted under normal conditions, without major incidents, injured people or destruction of public goods” reads a press release issued by the Bucharest Gendarmerie.
The institution mentions that an internal investigation was started in order for the situation to be analyzed.
That moment will be punctually analyzed, as well as the whole ensemble of decisions and the operative context preceding it, so that we will have a correct picture on this behavior, not just a fragmentary one. At this moment, we know the identity of the gendarme in the formation, and as a result of this investigation procedure we will establish what exactly led to such a behavior, reads the release.
As for the situation during the protest, at the exit from the subway, when people going to protest claimed that they weren’t allowed to leave the underground, the representatives of the Gendarmerie say that the decision “to temporize and redirect the access of the people that were going from the subway station to the exit at the National Theater was taken to avoid melees, since the University Square was blocked and a controlled exit of the people was required”.
“There were several control filters that had a preventive purpose to discourage the possible public disorder actions, and those filters proved themselves to be effective; following these controls, dangerous objects that could have caused serious injury of the people were found on some individuals. People on whom the dangerous objects have been found were subject to protocols of finding related to the offense provided by Art. 372 of the Criminal Code, ‘The unjustified wearing or use of dangerous objects’”, the institution also says.
Chamber of Deputies’ Defense Committee Deputy Chairman Raetchi to demand analysis into Gendarmerie’s protest handling
The Deputy Chairman of the Defense Committee of the Chamber of Deputies Ovidiu Raetchi is announcing that he will demand at the beginning of the parliamentary session of that the Defense Committees analyze how the Gendarmerie managed the protests, pointing out that Saturday’s event, in which a gendarme was filmed while hitting demonstrators, must be objectively sanctioned.
“I will request that in the first week of February, at the beginning of the session, after the steps to install the Government, we make an analysis in the National Defense and Public Order Committees of the Parliament of the way the Gendarmerie handled the civic protests in recent months. Yesterday’s incident, in which a gendarme punches demonstrators, must be analyzed and sanctioned objectively, out of the possible protection networks that we have started to discover in the Interior Ministry after the case of the paedophile policeman,” the PNL deputy wrote on Sunday on Facebook.
Photo source: Facebook