‘Romania seems broken in two’ over government’s plan decriminalizing corruption

‘Romania seems broken in two’ over government’s plan decriminalizing corruption
February 8, 2017 Katie Stark

“Share for Romania together!”

So urged Romanian photographer Dan Mihai Balanescu posting a photo on Facebook showing protesters massed in Bucharest, Romania. His translated caption read: “Victory Square over 300.000 stars in the sky and in Romania. The most beautiful thing I’ve ever photographed! Proud to be Romanian!”

RESISTANCE CHANNEL– Photographer Dan Mihai Balanescu’s images open global window on events unfolding in Bucharest

The protest arose in response to a government ordinance decriminalizing abuse of power by government officials and employees.

As of Sunday, backlash to the government’s decree had convinced officials to repeal it. Nonetheless, wary citizens continued their vigil at the square and other sites around the country as the protest marked it’s sixth day. It is described as the largest protest in Romania since 1989, when the country saw the end of communism.

Sebastian Burduja, president of the New Civic Action Party, described the activists as orderly and goal-driven. “I witnessed firsthand the positive energy, decency, and sense of civic duty that spring from these demonstrations,” he said, “people are firm and exceptionally resilient in the face of below-zero temperatures, but also extremely peaceful.”

When some unruly youth started needling the police in an attempt to get a reaction, he said, the crowd stopped them, chanting “say no to violence” in Romanian.

The protesters packed the Square, calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister and other government officials.

“We don’t trust the minister; we don’t trust the government anymore. The way they acted, we find it outrageous, said one protester interviewed by Euronews.

Announcing his intent Saturday to repeal the decree, the prime minister called for unity, the news agency reported. “I do not want to divide Romania,” Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu said,  “Romania cannot be split into two.”

In addition to the crowd in Bucharest, another 40,000 people were reported protesting in Cluj-Napoca, and up to 100,000 people combined, Digi24 reported, in other cities across the country.

“Beyond all the disappointment with politicians, however, the Romanian protests are about principles and renewed hope in a better future. People are standing up in tremendous numbers for justice, democracy, and the rule of law,” Burduju said.

Katie Stark
Katie Stark from Palmer, Alaska, is a junior studying journalism at University of Alaska Fairbanks. She's published photos and news stories in the The Sun Star, the university student-run newspaper. She is also part of the Nanook Women’s Swim Team. In her free time, Katie likes to be outside, read dystopian, utopian, and adventure novels, spend time with friends and family, and travel to anywhere as long as it is somewhere she hasn't been before.

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