Romanian protests continue into week-end

Newsroom 06/11/2015 | 23:12

Sunday, November 8:

Around 2,000 people have gathered in Univeristatii Square on Sunday evening, making it the sixth day of protests aiming to change the structure of what is seen as a universally corrupt political system.

At about 20:00 President Klaus Iohannis has come to the square and mingled with the people. The crowd migrated towards the small group formed by the President and the Protection and Guard Service Romania (SPP) employees accompanying him, while a small group that seemed to be against Iohannis booed them. The President had announced since Friday that he would come to the square, but said he would do it impromptu, in order to avoid a “media circus”. The group left after about 20 minutes.

Saturday, November 7:

Protesters gathered during the fifth day in the center of the capital city, but also across the country. Numbers were lower both in Bucharest and the other cities.

While 2,500 people have gathered on Saturday evening at Universitatii Square, in Iasi about 100 people took to the streets, 200 in Cluj, 150 in Buzau, 100 in Sibiu, 70 in Ploiesti, 50 in Alba Iulia and 30 in Timisoara.

Friday, November 6:

Bucharest braced for a fourth day of protests, with 10,000 people gathering on Friday evening at Universitatii Square. Social networks, the main drivers for the nation-wide movement that has started on Tuesday, have announced the continuation of protests on Friday evening and throughout the week-end.

Once more, at 18:00 people were expected in Universitatii Square, the “kilometer 0”, a point of reference in other protests that took place in Bucharest. Once more they started to come, with the silent shadows of the police and gendarmerie watching them from the sidelines, but not stopping them.

Like the other days, the group started small, with just a few hundreds. And like the other days, it started to grow after 19:00, soon enough blocking the traffic on Magheru Boulevard. Unlike the other days, though, the rows were thinner and the messages were not so unitary. Going through the crowd, one could see placards of the most diverse themes, some supporting the monarchy, some carrying religious messages, but most keeping the focus on the main driver of the protests: corruption.

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(Sign says: “Corruption kills”)

Corruption is seen by the thousands of people who have been taking to the streets for the past days as the main reason for the 32 deaths and the dozens of wounded that are fighting for their lives in the hospitals, with little hope. It is seen as an omnipresent state among politicians in Romania, like a really bad cold that everyone catches once they enter the government building. And right now, all politicians are seen as infected and, in the opinion of “the street”, all must be taken down.

Among the most used chants these days was “All parties, the same dirt”. Almost all requests made today by the representatives of the civil society that met with the President were aiming one way or another towards eliminating the corrupt that still stand and towards preventing future spreading of the phenomena.

Romanians want change. That has become clear throughout the days following the disaster that took place at Colectiv. However, it is not clear yet where the change is coming from. President Iohannis met today with 20 representatives of the civil society after two days of negotiations with the political parties. However, no nomination has yet been made for a new prime minister. After the meetings, Iohannis announced he would most likely go though more rounds of discussions in order to determine the road to take, as it has become clear “it is not just about a change of government but a change of political system”. He expects he will be able to have a conclusion by the end of next week.

In the meantime, people keep going to the streets, to keep reminding that, indeed, a more profound change is needed and expected. 10,000 people gathered in Universitatii Square, while across the country supporting protests have sparked for the third day in a row. In Iasi 4,000 people protested, in Galati 3,000 and in Cluj 2,000. Hundreds of people have taken to the streets of smaller cities too. It’s a clear, generalized message, that change needs to come.

Tonight a march in silence was organized in remembrance of the victims of the fire that sparked the nationwide fury. Some 500 people started at Unirii Square and ended their march in front of the nightclub that has shook the country from its hinges on a late Friday evening the week before. During each evening of protest, a moment of silence has been held in the memory of the departed. Because they need to be remembered while the country is diving in a sea of uncertainty.

Natalia Martian

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