(Photo source) Today is the twenty-third anniversary of the 13-15 June 1990 coal miners' massacre ('mineriada') when an estimated 10,000 miners from the Jiu Valley invaded Bucharest at the behest of Ion Iliescu (to help 'suppress' student protests) and rampaged their way through the capital indiscriminately killing, maiming, beating up innocent people, vandalising both the Liberal Party and the National Peasant Party HQs, newspaper offices and private houses as they went. Carnage. Pure and gratuitous carnage.
Only a few weeks after the FSN had achieved a landslide victory in the May 1990 general election - the first since the fall of the Ceausescu regime - armed with bats, chains and axes, the miners brutalised and terrorised the old, the young and the defenseless, ransacked offices of an association for victims of the 1989 anti-communist lovilutie, an association for Romanian political prisoners of the communist regime, a womans' rights organisation, a writers' association and two Bucharest universities. Here's what happened.
Two days later, addressing a gathering of miners in Bucharest, Iliescu publicly thanked them for their 'assistance' and 'high civic discipline'. 60 people had been killed and over 1000 injured. Another 1000 were arrested and held without charge for as long as four months... For personal witness statements, see HERE.
To think that the seemingly untouchable Ion Iliescu was exhonerated by the courts - an insult to the memory of those who were attacked, assaulted, unjustly arrested or ultimately lost their lives - and another instigator, Vadim Tudor, is today a member of the European Parliament, is beyond foul. It is HIGH TIME that Iliescu and all those others who played key roles in such terrible brutality were brought to book, judged, sentenced and the keys to their prison doors thrown into bottomless pits. So far, apart from a handful of soldiers, none of those responsible have been charged for the crimes of the 13-15 June mineriada.
Here are some details from the 1990 statistics showing the effect of the student suppression. There are no words.
Frank Sellin, political scientist, wrote in 2007: "June 1990 represented not the first, not the second, but the third mineriadă on Bucharest. The first two dry runs were in January and February 1990, used to intimidate opposition demonstrations against the National Salvation Front of Iliescu and his fellow workers, mostly second and third tier ex-communists from pre-1989 days.
Most importantly, a mineriadă doesn't just spontaneously generate itself among not-so-educated miners who are just barely past the sudden exit of a communist regime, not to mention severely repressed after the 1977 miners' strike and infiltration by the Securitate. It has to be organized.
Transporting hundreds of people from the Jiu Valley to be prepared to bash heads in Bucharest -- at least five hours by train -- required trains, weapons, and according to news reports at the time, plenty of alcohol.
So if the coercive forces of the state were no longer able to control the situation in Piaţa Universităţii in June of 1990, who still had the organizational capacity to transport and arm the miners?
Just like two times previous? Iliescu can rewrite history all he wants, but that just adds insult to what should be a search for redemption for the young and innocent lives lost in June 1990 to aggravated assaults by the miners."
Here is his excellent blog full of information - please visit it. The comments which accompany the post are also well worth your time.
This 274-page report compiled by the "21 December 1989" association on the events of 13-15 June 1990 makes compelling reading. It is available to the general public on the website of the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile in Bucharest.
By CELESTINE BOHLEN, Special to The New York Times
Published: Friday, June 15, 1990
Responding to an emergency appeal by President Ion Iliescu, thousands of miners from northern Romania descended on the capital city today with wooden clubs and rubber truncheons and sought crude revenge for anti-Government rioting Wednesday.
In grimy work clothes and helmets, their faces blackened by soot, the miners took control of Bucharest's main boulevard and central square, menacing and beating passers-by whom they apparently suspected of having tried to bring down the Iliescu Government.
Their suspicions appeared to be indiscriminate; motorists in their cars, well-dressed professors, students, photographers, reporters, mothers with children and girls walking their dogs were chased off the street, sometimes hit across the shoulders with rubber hoses.
By evening, the miners had emptied University Square, which was the setting of a marathon anti-Government demonstration that was broken up in a police raid before dawn Wednesday.
Summoned by Mr. Iliescu to save the Government from a ''fascist rebellion,'' the miners joined other workers loyal to the governing National Salvation Front early this morning and ransacked the headquarters of the two main opposition parties, setting fires, breaking windows and carting off or destroying equipment and documents.
The miners' arrival in the city came the day after soldiers opened fire on anti-Government demonstrators outside the Interior Ministry, killing at least four and wounding scores in the worst violence in Eastern Europe since December, when Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown in a popular revolt.
Opposition Papers Seized
In the violence today, pro-Government workers laid siege to the apartments of prominent Government opponents and halted the publication of Romania Libera, the main opposition newspaper.
By the afternoon, the miners were still in control of the headquarters of one opposition party, the Peasants Party, lounging in the courtyard and on the balconies amid broken typewriters and piles of trash. At the Liberal Party headquarters, militiamen guarded the doors, while party members stayed away.
''We took a common decision to stay home and stay in touch by telephone,'' said Sorin Botez, a spokesman for the Liberal Party. Other critics of the Government also stayed off the streets today.
The rampage by the miners and other workers, tolerated by the few policemen visible today in Bucharest, came just as Romania's new Government, headed by Mr. Iliescu and the front, is about to take office. Although bitterly opposed by students, liberal intellectuals and the so-called historical parties, the front won the May 20 election by a landslide, buoyed by Mr. Iliescu's personal popular appeal.
Attacks by Miners Assailed
The extent of the Government's role in bringing the miners to the city, beyond Mr. Iliescu's appeal, was not known. A Government spokesman, Ion Pascu, said the police and the army had not responded to save the Government in what he called a coup attempt by opposition forces. The spokesmen said that in the absence of an adequate police force, the Government would continue to rely on the miners, who he said might stay in the capital for another two or three days. The miners are thought to number about 7,000.
Although the miners said that they came to Bucharest spontaneously after Mr. Iliescu's summons, the Government has clearly taken responsibility for them. This afternoon buses arrived at University Square to take the miners to an exhibition hall where they watched the World Cup soccer match before being bused back to the square and then to some location in the city where they were spending the night.
Mr. Botez criticized the attacks against the Government on Wednesday, but said they did not justify Mr. Iliescu's call to the miners. ''It is not a good beginning for a new Government to start with acts of terrorism,'' he said. ''It is a unique case in European history, a world premiere, for a president to incite one part of the population against the other.''
Dumitru Mazilu, who resigned from the leadership of the front last winter in a dispute over the Government's response to a demonstration against the front, said today that his apartment was surrounded for about five hours by a group of belligerent miners, armed with sticks, who threatened to kill him.
In a pre-dawn raid Wednesday, the police cracked down on the protest that had occupied University Square for seven weeks.
Witnesses to the raid Wednesday said a number of protesters were beaten as they were dragged off by the police and 253 were arrested - although all were released a few hours later.
Later in the day anti-Government protesters armed with gasoline bombs and guns seized in a raid on Central Police Headquarters, laid siege to the Interior Ministry, the state TV station and the Government's central offices at Victory Square. Five people were killed and 277 were wounded, the Health Ministry said.
Because of the crisis, sessions of the assembly and senate scheduled for today were postponed until Monday. A joint session after that is formally to appoint Mr. Iliescu head of state.
A miners' spokesman said in a statement carried by the Rompres press agency that they would stay in Bucharest as long as necessary. ''We shall stay here until we are sure that order is reinstated and people go back to work,'' the statement said. ''Nobody called us to Bucharest so we won't accept anyone telling us to go back home.''
Mr. Pascu said the Government would continue to rely on the miners while examining the creation of a new police force, a kind of national guard, that would supplement the function of the municipal police. ---- 'Vigilante Violence' Assailed WASHINGTON, June 14 (Reuters) - The United States accused Romania today of using vigilante violence against anti-Government demonstrators and said it would defer a decision on normalizing trade ties.
''The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the rioting of the past two days, and the Government-inspired vigilante violence that departs from the commonly accepted norms of democracy and the rule of law,'' said the White House spokesman, Marlin Fitzwater. ''We are concerned that the deplorable events of the past two days are being used to justify the suppression of legitimate dissent in Romania.''
The State Department spokeswoman, Margaret D. Tutwiler, replied affirmatively when asked if it was fair to assume that Washington would defer a decision on granting most-favored-nation-status to Romania until it is satisfied with the human-rights situation there.
The British Government accused the Iliescu Government of using the tactics of the Ceausescu regime. In London, a Foreign Office official, William Waldegrave, said: ''What is depressing is both the rhetoric - talking about all their opponents of being fascists and gypsies, just like Ceausescu - and the way in which they called out the 'rent-a-mob' of coal miners who were bused in, armed with pickax handles and knives, and loosed off into the streets.''
So much pain in this dear country of my heart. Any effort to make things better always seems to end up in some kind of battle to the extent that the majority these days opt for the alternative choice, ie. sit and do nothing at all - sometimes, it's hard to blame them. How many times can one stand up and get knocked down again. Has so little changed since the lovilutie of 1989? If anything, things seem to have become a whole lot worse. What is one to do in any case when the people at the top are the most corrupt of the lot? The fish rots from the head down, after all...
Elena Negula, a hunger striker and victim of the miners' attack, summed it up in an old Romanian saying: "we want to make something good and instead we break our own heads."