(Photo source) Simona Halep, the first Romanian woman to have made it to a tennis Grand Slam singles final since Virginia Ruzici (today Halep's manager) in 1978, has given her compatriots a good and worthy reason to be proud of one of their own. It comes at a time when unearthing a contemporary national figure to look up to is more than just a struggle (check out the politicians for proof of that), and the love and support poured out for Simona is all over the social networks. I have seen 'proud to be Romanian' again and again... I understand. I really do. But the 'baseline' is this: 'pride' should NOT be due to Simona being Romanian, but due to the fact that she is a talented, hard-working sportswoman who has slogged her guts out since she was four years old to get to where she is today. Atât. THAT is what is admirable and worth cheering for. THAT is what merits the pride. Simona's rise in tennis has indeed been fast and brilliant. Ranked n° 47 at the end of 2012 and n° 11 at the end of 2013, she is now n° 3 behind Serena Williams and Li Na. Incredible or what! Raaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!
But who actually is she? Apart from a sensational, inspiring tennis player, I mean. I've no idea. She must be an immensely private person since I've had trouble finding anything about her (apart from her tennis career and the one thing she doesn't want to discuss) online. She is surely right to keep the 'private Simona' under wraps.
Simona, aged 22, was born in Constanta on 27th September, 1991 to an Aromanian family. Her father, Stere (ex-footballer at Săgeata Stejaru playing in the lower leagues), owns a dairy products factory. At home, she speaks Aromanian and, according to her father, loves Aromanian music and plăcintele cu ștevie and urzici. His daughter is shy, he says, and hates to be the centre of attention.
All the more reason then, to admire her for all that she has achieved in such a short time - and to be a little sensitive to the nervousness she faces at the beginning of every one of her matches. How she must be feeling before the finals at Roland Garros tomorrow, one can only imagine.
In this little interview for Outside the Ball, Simona says she likes Gerard Butler, Richard Gere and 'Pretty Woman', though she doesn't have much time for films. When she isn't playing tennis, she loves shopping and going into town with her friends. A normal 22-year-old. And yet not.
She is one of the most modest sports stars I have ever seen. There is no hype, no tra-la-la around Simona. She just seems to go in, do her fabulous stuff and leave. No shassy diva stuff, no noise, no scandal, no fuss. Just nice, well brought-up, respectful modesty. One thing puzzles me, though. She is, of course, well-known at home in Romania and now also in France. But before her success so far at Roland Garros this week, who else had heard of Simona Halep?
The Bleacher Report gives five reasons why Simona seems to be under-marketed. I'm not sure I agree with any of them, but still, it is food for thought. The very fact, though, that she upset Li Na at the U.S. Open in 2011 whilst playing on a sprained ankle should have been enough to earn her some stardom across the pond. But anyway, whatever the reasons for being less well-known than she deserves to be, it looks as though she's putting that right as we speak!
(Image source) Crossing fingers with all our hearts for Simona and her match here in Paris tomorrow against Maria Sharapova, and wishing her a peaceful night, only 'good' nerves and another phenomenal performance. Whatever the results, she has been incredible. I would SO love to see her knock their socks off at Wimbledon which begins on 23rd June.
If you are in Bucharest tomorrow, you can see the match aired 'live' in Parcul Herastrau from 4pm. Go! Be proud! But be proud of Simona's talent, dedication and brilliance - not because she just happens to be Romanian. That would be sadly displaced pride and overshadows everything else...
(Image: source - VN) Canadian company Gabriel Resources is planning to bash the Romanian government in a Vienna court for billions over the blocked arbitration of its highly controversial gold mining project in Rosia Montana. This probably doesn't come as much of a surprise to anybody since Ponta predicted the possibility of such a lawsuit even before Gabriel threatened to sue for "multiple breaches of international investment treaties" last autumn.
The Romanian parliament’s chamber of deputies is to vote on a bill (PL-x 520/2013) on May 7th that would give special legal status to the $1.5-billion (U.S.) project permitting it to continue. However, the result is not expected to lean in Gabriel's favour, largely due to overwhelming public opposition to both the mine and its cyanide-based extraction technology. And rightly so. It's an abomination on just about every level.
Here is the whole story from The Globe and Mail by Eric Reguly, dated April 30th:
Gabriel may seek billions in arbitration over stalled Romanian mine
'The Toronto mining company whose 15-year effort to open Europe’s biggest gold project has gone nowhere is preparing an international arbitration case against the Romanian government that would seek billions of dollars in damages.
Gabriel Resources is making plans for the case, which probably would be heard in Vienna in the second half of the year, as it starts to wind down its activities in Romania’s Transylvania region to conserve cash. About 400 employees, or 80 per cent, of Gabriel’s Romanian subsidiary, Rosia Montana Gold Corp. (RMGC), have been suspended at three-quarters pay. The company has said it may fire them in May “if there is no progress in the advancement of the project.”
Gabriel, which is listed on the Toronto stock exchange but run from London, is not expecting a breakthrough any time soon. The Romanian parliament’s chamber of deputies is scheduled to vote on a bill that would give special legal status to the $1.5-billion (U.S.) project, allowing it to go ahead, on May 7.
But the company does not expect the vote to go in its favour, partly because public opposition to the mine and its cyanide-based extraction technology remains strong. Timing is also an issue. Since it’s the last item on that day’s agenda, there is a good chance the parliamentary session will end before reaching the RMGC vote.
Gabriel threatened to sue the Romanian government last September for up to $4-billion “for multiple breaches of investment treaties.” At the same time, Gabriel’s Irish CEO, Jonathan Henry, the company’s sixth boss since the mid-1990s, warned that the government’s failure to approve the project would damage all of Romania. “Our case is very strong and we will make it very public that Romania’s effort to attract foreign investment will suffer greatly,” he said.
His comments triggered an anti-Gabriel backlash across Romania, after which Gabriel appeared to tone down its threats to go after the government. In a statement issued on Sept. 11, Gabriel chairman Keith Hulley said, “We will acknowledge any decision taken by the Romanian government or Parliament concerning Rosia Montana.”
The preparations for the arbitration case indicate that Gabriel’s threat is still very much alive. The company will give no details of its strategy, however, and has not said which investment treaties it would use to support its case. “We cannot comment on any aspects of any international arbitration case we might take against Romania,” Gabriel spokesman Bobby Morse said on Wednesday.
International commercial arbitration in general, and arbitration cases against governments in particular, are becoming increasingly popular, to the point they are gaining favour over traditional courtroom litigation. The rise of bilateral investment treaties has triggered a surge in arbitration case against governments, which are handled through the World Bank’s arbitration court, known as ICSID – International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.
International commercial arbitration cases are adjudicated behind closed doors, tend to be shorter than courtroom litigation and produce final decisions that cannot be appealed, though they are not necessarily cheaper.
Khan Resources is one Canadian company using international arbitration. It is using arbitration in Paris to try to regain control of a Mongolian uranium project that it claims was illegally expropriated by the Mongolian government.
The Rosia Montana project has been held up by well-organized and well-funded protesters, ranging from local farmers who do not want their properties seized to make way for the enormous mine, to billionaires such as George Soros and celebrities such as Vanessa Redgrave, since the 1990s. Gabriel has spend $550-million on project development and legal work with nothing to show for it, and has gone through five CEOs in 20 years, each of who was convinced the project was on the verge of a breakthrough.
Mr. Henry is the sixth CEO. His efforts to engage the community and highlight the economic benefits of the mine have failed to break the deadlock. In November, the Romanian senate rejected the draft law that would have declared that the project was of “extraordinary public interest.”
The project has gold reserves of 17.1-million ounces and 81.1-million ounces of silver.
Environmental and farming groups have attacked it for its use of cyanide and its enormous size. The four-pit mine would blow up two mountainsides, displace about 2,000 villagers and fill an entire valley with waste-rock and cyanide-laced sludge. The tailing pond alone would cover nearly 300 hectares and would rise from an initial height of 70 metres to 180 metres.'
(Image source - VN) Incidentally, it would have been reeeeally good if Romanian press sites had managed to actually spell the name of the source from which they had quoted and translated agogo all day Thursday correctly. It is The GLOBE and Mail, guys, not GLODE as seen in THESE spectacular examples of journalistic professionalism. Not a difficult word, surely. Goagăl it. GLOBE. G-L-O-B-E. And not uncommon either. Jeez... Bravo.
(Photo source) Pianist Raluca Stirbat is forever tireless in her love and determination to save George Enescu's mother's house in Mihăileni, Botoșani. Its deplorable state has further degenerated since THIS post in January 2013 - scandalous in a country that professes to hold its national composer so dear, along with the endless promises from authorities and the house's inclusion (finally, after much faffing about) on the list of historic monuments last November. I won't even mention the huge success of the George Enescu Festival originally held every three years in Bucharest, and now taking place every two, with performances by some of the greatest orchestras, musicians and conductors the world over... (oops, I just did).
Now Raluca is pushing her project to save the house yet further still. Please help if you can. The very idea that such a symbol of immeasurable historic and cultural value could be lost due to sheer, unbridled negligence and je m'en foutism is nothing short of repugnant:
Dear friends of Enescu and Romanian culture,
George Enescu's house in Mihăileni, Botoșani, officially became a historic monument on 29th November 2013 after a year-long press campaign. Despite repeated promises made by the authorities expressed numerous times from that December, nothing concrete has been done and the house's situation is disastrous. Urgent purchase of the house from the present owners is vital to enable reconstruction work to begin.
With your help - no sum is too small! - you can contribute to saving and restoring this monument of history and meaning; a house to which George Enescu was deeply attached and never, ever renounced.
Each one of us may buy a brick (our own!) for the foundations of this house, breathing life back into it and thus saving not only a building from oblivion, but also part of the era that belonged to an exceptional composer and, above all, a great Romanian who devoted his life, health and creations to his country and the people he so loved.
We thank you. Enescu thanks you.
Dragi prieteni ai lui Enescu și ai culturii române,
Casa lui George Enescu din Mihăileni, jud. Botoșani, a devenit oficial monument istoric pe 29 noiembrie 2013, în urma unei campanii de presă susținute de un an de zile. În ciuda promisiunilor repetate ale autorităților, exprimate în numeroase rânduri din decembrie încoace, nu s-a făcut nimic concret, iar situația casei este în continuare dezastruoasă. Ea trebuie achiziționată urgent de la actualii proprietari, pentru a se putea demara lucrările de reconstrucție.
Prin ajutorul Dvs. – nicio sumă nu este prea mică! – aveți ocazia concretă de a contribui la salvarea și restaurarea acestui monument încărcat de istorie și semnificații, o casă la care George Enescu a ținut enorm și la care nu a renunțat niciodată.
Fiecare din noi poate așeza o piatră (la propriu!) la temelia acestei case, readucând la viață și salvând de la uitare nu numai o clădire, ci o întreagă epocă din existența celui care a fost nu doar un compozitor de geniu, dar, înainte de toate, un mare român care și-a pus toată creația, viața și sănătatea, fără urmă de menajament, în slujba țării și poporului pe care l-a iubit atât de mult.
Vă mulțumim! Enescu vă mulțumește!
If you would like to help, donations for Casa Enescu in Mihaileni can be sent to BRD Iasi in RON, euros and US$:
For up to the minute news, please see FB page Save Enescu's House in Mihaileni, set up and managed by Raluca.
(Image source: Viorica Ana Farkas)
Hristos a înviat! Paste fericit tuturor alaturi de cei dragi!
What better day for a post bursting with joy than this? I have always adored Naïve Art, particularly from Romania. This post is therefore dedicated to all those who love it too, along with the artists who have filled and continue to fill our hearts with such energy and unbridled exuberance.
According to Wikipedia, Naïve art is often characterised by a childlike simplicity in subject matter and technique. While many naïve artists appear to have little or no formal art training, this is not always true. It may well have been accurate before the twentieth century, but today, there are academies for Naïve art all over the world and it is now recognised as a genre in its own right, represented in galleries and museums across the globe. Being neither artist nor art critic, I do not wish to get bogged down with debates and jargon. Far better to share some of my favourite artists and their works with you. The technicalities are really not important, but the results, however, are simply glorious!
(Photo source) My first choice is Gheorghe Ciobanu, born in Baltati, in April 1944. For Gheorghe Ciobanu, creating is quite simply a part of who he is. He is an autodidact with an innate talent fed with the beauty of the places in which he grew up - a magical environment where time takes on a whole different dimension. Perhaps if he had studied at an academy, he would have lost his natural ingenuity so specific to his work. For Mr. Ciobanu "painting is a chance to show God".
(Primavara in copac) His debut in the local art community came in 1979 when he presented his first works at the Army House in Ploiesti. Spotted by critics, he was invited to other similar events. Outside Romania, he held his first exhibition in Limoges, France in 1996. Switzerland, Germany and Austria then followed. Everywhere he went, both he and his works brought admiration. Collectors were quick to enrich their collections with his beautiful tableaux that can now be found in USA, Canada, Austria, France, Italy and Germany.
(Margine in sat) "God has put so much beauty in this world to enjoy that there shouldn’t be sadness, worry or meanness", he says. "Of course, life has its limitations and challenges, but we have to make time to open our eyes and take in the beauty of the world, the perfection of God’s creation. “Be happy! Love each other!” Christ told us, but many of us live encompassed by hate and anger. We need so little to be happy! When I sit on my knees and paint, I pray to God to give me a little beauty to put in my paintings from all that he has created. And when the painting starts to take shape under my brush, I feel such joy that it heals me of all problems and makes me happy. And I know it all comes from God!"
How can one not love him?!
(Image source) My next favourite is Mihai Dascalu from Oradea, Bihor. Born on 1st May, 1960, Mihai is an engineer by profession and works at the Bihor County Offices as a civil servant by day. He also has an MA in Law and Public Administration.
His first exhibition was held in Resita in 1984 and since then there has been a whirlwind of events in France, Italy, Portugal, Israel, Estonia, Canada and the US to name but a few, as well as endless exhibitions at home in Romania.
Citeste mai mult: adevarul.ro/locale/oradea/mihai-dascalu-inginerul-confirma-pictor-1_50ad6cfd7c42d5a66394ea6a/index.html
A prolific prize-winner of an array of awards, Mihai is well-published both as an artist and an author, his books including "Adventures in Naive Island" and "Under the umbrella of Naive art" in partnership with Gustav Hlinka and Costel Iftinchi.
Next on my list of favourite Naïve painters come Doina and Gustav Hlinka. I can only imagine how marvellously bright and colourful their home must be, if their personalities are anything like their paintings!
(Image source) I can't find much online pertaining to a biography for Doina Marita Hlinka (if anyone out there can tell me more, please leave a comment below this post!), born in Maglavit, Dolj in 1961. However, her Facebook page info states that she studied at Liceul de Matematica-Fizica in Resita and today works at the town's municipal library where she held her first solo exhibition in 1990.
For such a delightful artist, it is a pity there is no personal website for us to revel in. I adore her sense of fun and perspective. Enchanting!
Doina Hlinka's exhibitions are largely in Romania, though she has had several abroad in France, Hungary and Austria. Her works have been bought by collectors in France, Germany, Austria as well as at home in Romania. She has won a variety of awards in Iasi, Pitesti, Bacau and Timisoara.
For more of Doina Hlinka's wonderfully uplifting paintings, please see HERE.
(Image source) Her husband, Gustav Ioan Hlinka, is more widely known and can be found all over the net. Just as well, for if he were as modest as his wife, we'd have suffered a double loss!
Born in Steirdorf-Anina, Caras-Severin in 1947, his talent for art and design was remarked upon by an astute art teacher at school. Between 1969-72, he studied at the School of Art in Resita where he showed particular talent for landscapes, graphics, watercolour, naïve painting and modern art.
He began his artistic career in 1971 and had his first major solo exhibition in Resita in 1980. Since then, he has exhibited all over Romania as well as Germany, Austria and France.
(Colonia Ciuperceni) His works are overflowing with the 'merry-tragic' tradition so typical of this genre, and focus, for the most part, on Banat mountain and village life. Many can be seen in the Museum of Naïve Art in Pitesti, Forchtenstein Castle House Europe, The Karl Brunner Museum in Austria, The Banat Mountain Museum in Resita and others besides.
Gustav Hlinka has always been an extremely active member of cultural associations and foundations including The Romanian Numismatic Society, The Philatelic Association of Caras-Severin and The County Association of Amateur Artists (1976-1988). He was a founder member of the Nicolae Popescu Circle in Resita (1988) and was vice president from 1991-1995. In addition, he is member of the Universal Naïve Art Foundation, has been President of The Ethnic German Painters Group of Resita since 1996 and is a founder member and vice president of the Vintilă Arplana Naïve Art Foundation. Uff! What a busy chap!
Gustav Hlinka has won a vast array of prestigious honours and awards including the Eminescu title of Knight of the Order of Culture in 2006.
(Image source) Finally, I'd like to present Viorica Ana Farkas. I fell upon her totally par hazard on my Facebook newsfeed the other day (just in time for Easter!) - and what a happy discovery it was! Her work is so utterly sparkling that it really does blow the cobwebs away, bringing the sun right in to kiss your nose!
Born on 27th February, 1950, Viorica Farkas is a mathematics professor (BSc from the University of Timisoara and a post-grad from the Eotvos Lorandh Academy in Budapest) who grew up in Timisoara. Today, she lives in Resita.
Between 1960-9, she attended painting classes at the Falusy Zoltan Studio and recently studied Naïve Art under Gustav Hlinka (2007-8). She is a member of the "Art Cultural Resita" Democratic Forum of Germans in Caras-Severin.
(Photo source) Too busty. Too voluptuous. Too suggestive. Doesn't correspond to reality. It must go! According to the Ministry of Culture, this sums up the bust of Arethia Tătărescu by Paul Popescu erected in Targu-Jiu and inaugurated last October in the park named after her.
The nearby bust of her husband (also rather voluptuous) Gheorghe Tătărescu, who served twice as Prime Minister (1934–1937; 1939–1940), three times as Minister of Foreign Affairs (interim 1934 and 1938; appointed 1945-1947) and once as Minister of War (1934) is also to be removed because local authorities never asked permission from the Ministry of Culture to erect it in the first place.
So, to summarise: one bust (excuse the pun) is aesthetically unrepresentative whilst the other is just plain illegal.
(Photo source) All this hullabaloo got me goagăling Arethia Tătărescu, since I knew nothing about her. Not only was she beautiful, she was also an incredibly influential personality in terms of art and culture, particularly in the county of Gorj.
Born on 16th September, 1889 into a well-to-do family of landowners, she lost her father Gheorghe Piteşteanu at a young age. Accompanied by her grandmother, little Arethia and her two brothers, Gheorghe and Alexandru left for Belgium where she studied painting and piano.
She returned home in 1916 and met Gheorghe Tătărescu, who came from a wealthy family in Vlăduleni, Gorj county. The couple married the same year in Craiova.
World War I spelled the departure of her husband to the front. Arethia finally followed him to Moldova, joining him in Botosani (1919) where he was serving as aide to the commander of the officers' school of infantry. After the war, the Tătărescus returned to Bucharest.
Following a trip to the Punjab, Gheorghe and Arethia Tătărescu bought land near Poiana Rovinari, where they built a mansion. Arethia carried out extensive activities to popularise traditions of the region.
In a sign of appreciation for work done to highlight the heritage of Gorj, Arethia Tătărescu was elected President of the National League of Romanian Women - Section Gorj. In this role, she worked tirelessly for the cultural and social development of Targu-Jiu.
Although her husband was devoted to his political career, Arethia remained distant from it. An aristocrat in thought and sensitivity, her beauty and discretion earned her great respect and gratitude in Gorj.
(Photo source: Arethia Tătărescu [centre] with Constantin Brancusi) In 1935, she asked sculptor Constantin Brancusi (born in Hobita, Gorj) to fulfil his dream in building a memorial in Targu-Jiu for the heroes who had sacrificed their lives for the country in World War I. In May 1936, the city was ranked a tourist attraction, thus able to draw funds from the ministries for building the monument. Known as The Monumental Sculptural Ensemble in Targu- Jiu, Arethia Tătărescu's initiative and constant support earned her the name of Great Lady of Gorj. The Ensemble is today one of Romania's great cultural highlights.
For her countless social, cultural and humanitarian contributions, Arethia Tătărescu was awarded the title of Honorary Citizen of the City of Targu-Jiu on 13 September 1936.
I wonder what she would have thought of Paul Popescu's sculptural depiction. Would she have been terribly embarrassed? Perhaps. Though vaguely clothed, it does not portray a lady of such elegance and dedication. For once, the MC's decision gets my vote.
(Photo source) I've just read THIS article (in French) dated 22nd March and am staggered. This is 'old news' now in Romania, but 'new news' to me, and I can only say WTF???! WHY isn't the death of this child in Ariceştii Rahtivani, Prahova being yelled from the rooftops and internationally condemned on a massive scale?? WHY aren't officials being removed from their positions, brought to book and thrown in jail?? Here is my translation with links added where possible and (my) notes in square brackets:
A child dead, a father beaten: support for the Furcelea family
(Photo source: Frack Off Romania - the unprotected rig on the day of Marian's funeral)
During the night of 27-28 February, Marian Furcelea aged 9 was found dead near an unprotected OMV-Petrom rig situated between his home and school. Cause of death: poisoning by toxic gas inhalation. [Just for the record, OMV-Petrom is a Romanian oil company, the largest corporation in the country and the largest gas and oil producer in E. Europe]
A week after Marian died, OMV-Petrom had a fence erected around the previously open site. [Too little, too late]
It was when the family decided to launch proceedings to sue Petrom for negligence that their problems really began...
Marian's father, Cristian, was grilled by police for taking photos of the fence being put up after his son died. He was also threatened by the mayor [Alexandru Cristea].
Petrom filed a complaint against Mr. Furcelea with the help of the senior management of child protection, laying responsibility for Marian's death at the feet of his parents because they had not accompanied him on his route home from school.
Not long afterwards [on 21st March], an anti-riot police van drew up in front of the Furcelea family's home and took Marian's father off to the child protection centre [the article doesn't say why, but I'm presuming it was on the pretext of a hearing]. On arrival, the anti-riot police in the van laid into him (on order?), kicking, punching him and spraying him in the face with some kind of paralysis substance. If he talked or posted [on internet?] anything, they told him, he'd be 'taken care of'.
As if that wasn't enough, they hacked into his mobile phone and told him, "from now on, we'll know everything you say and to whom". This is how anti-riot police work in Romania - on the orders of high-ranking officials under the influence of petroleum companies.
Even the doctors who refused to provide Mr. Furcelea with a legal document pertaining to his injuries admitted he had been beaten up. He is still in hospital and can barely speak. Such intimidation gave Cristian Furcelea cause to consider dropping the whole affair in fear for his life, but he has decided to press on for his son.
(Photo source - candles lit for Marian in Constanta) I saw this story on my FB newsfeed last week, but was unsure of the sources so ignored it - mea culpa. Concerned that I was being lead down the garden path and into the toolshed so to speak (it wouldn't be the first time, after all), I started googling this morning spotting more posts on my newsfeed. HERE is an article from Gândul which has been used by other news sites (couldn't journalists be bothered to come up with an original text? Seriously?!), THIS from Romania Libera, THIS (with video) from Digi24 and THIS from Hotnews. There is also plenty on line via sites and blogs. HERE is a good, concise article from The Epoch Times (in Romanian).
So where is the international press, then? Marian's death has lead to an outcry from ecological activists, support from people all over Romania and the funeral itself became a mass protest attended by activists and environmentalists from towns all over the country. A demonstration took place at Piata Universitatii in Bucharest on 23rd March to show solidarity with the Furcelea family. Not only have they had their grief dragged through the mud, but Mr. Furcelea has been severely beaten, threatened, intimidated and humiliated.
A small chapter missing from the above article is mentioned HERE. Apparently, soon after Marian died, Cristian went to the spot where his son had been found to lay flowers. When he arrived, he was surprised to find Petrom employees putting up the afore-mentioned perimetre fence. They called the police on grounds that he was trespassing on private property. "I was arrested and fined," said Cristian Furcelea. "They said I had trespassed on private property. Shouldn't that fence have been there before my son died?" At the time this article was written (March 10th), ie. two weeks following Marian's death, the family still had not received any message of condolence from Petrom....
According to Gândul, Georgian Drăgan, spokesman for the Prahova County Police Inspectorate, confirmed that a criminal investigation had been launched for possible manslaughter. When contacted by AFP, OMV-Petrom representatives said: "The investigation is ongoing. We are working closely with the authorities." Yes, I'm sure. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. Considering that it was the 'authorities' who had the bejeezers beaten out of poor Cristian Furcelea resulting in a week of hospitalisation, I personally don't hold out much hope.
Hope becomes increasingly more fragile when you read THIS update (21st March) from Nasul TV in which Leonard Dragomirescu, another spokesman for Prahova County Police, states that he checked the necessary documentation and had come to the conclusion that Mr Furcelea had NOT been taken anywhere by jandarmi of Prahova. Huh?! Furthermore, Major Mitrea (another spokesman, this time Gruparii Mobile de Jandarmi Ploiesti) says that no agent from his station in Ploiesti went to the Furcelea house either. He too had looked into the matter (they're all so hard-working, bless them) and no team had ever been sent there. So, what happened? If it really wasn't the police from Prahova or Ploiesti, then who beat up and intimidated Mr Furcelea?
(Photo source) Whether or not some of you may be thinking that the Furcelea family's awful string of suffering is being used/manipulated for certain ends, there are three main issues here that can be neither denied nor ignored: 1) a dead child and a grieving family; 2) the incomprehensible lack of security, competence and decency from OMV-Petrom that ought to know better (bearing in mind this is a Romanian company with Romanian employees on Romanian land with a Romanian child who has died and a Romanian family in mourning); 3) the unscrupulous bully-boy treatment by puppets acting on orders of their unscrupulous bully-boy bosses (mayors, police chiefs, managers, etc) who are under the thumbs of unscrupulous bully-boy politicians not wanting to upset (read 'lose face and money from') these giant companies. And those three points all converge to the one destructive, lethal cancer that has metastasised throughout Romania's political class post-'89: GREED.
Marian's death has not only highlighted the unfathomable levels of corruption along with a shocking lack of compunction, but also the gaping void where humanity should be.
(Photo source: Spot the difference)
I'll end this sad yet indignant post with a message from Frack off Romania on what we can do next. Please take the time to read it, for there are many different ways something can be done on small and larger scales. This cannot be allowed to happen again. Unless there is international media attention to shame those responsible and get something done, it will. Again and again. Thank you.
Please help!!! Here's how:
1. Spread the word!!! (media, NGOs for human rights, environmental protection and citizens' groups fighting fossil fuels and extractivism)
2. Help us find international lawyers (specialised in human rights) to work pro bono. There are hardly any Romanian lawyers who would stand up against this giant company.
3. Write letters of complaint to the Romanian Minister of Interior in charge of the Riot Police and the OMV Petrom headquarters in Vienna.
Romanian Ministry of Internal Affairs – email@example.com
OMV HQ Vienna – firstname.lastname@example.org
Petrom HQ Bucharest – email@example.com
4. Financial aid is needed for this family to bear the cost of legal fees. We have already sent 110 euros collected from donations. Further donations will be withdrawn from paypal on Monday.
Donations can be sent:
a) in RON: Peacocks Razvan Marius IBAN: RO85BACX0000000679700000, SWIFT: BACXROBU
b) in Euros: Peacocks Razvan Marius IBAN: RO31BACX0000000679700002, SWIFT: BACXROBU, with Tiriac Bank
c) via paypal : firstname.lastname@example.org
d) by MoneyGram or Western: Hettie Benedek, Romania (Please let her know by writing to: email@example.com)
All info as to how donations are being managed and used is posted HERE.
For anyone wanting further details, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR SOLIDARITY AND SUPPORT!
For more in Romanian (except where indicated), please see Digi24, Digi24 again, EVZ, PRO TV, Realitatea, Nasul TV, Gândul, Romania Libera, Hotnews, Basta!Gaz (in French), InfoIinsider.ro, Epoch Times, activist Hetti Benedek's FB page, Frack off Romania (in English) and Observatorulph.ro
1st April UPDATE: Info from Hetti Benedek's FB wall: Hetti spoke to Cristian Furcelea yesterday. First off, he has managed to get the necessary discharge papers from the hospital, which (I guess) prove he was there and why, and, more importantly, the treatment he received. They are currently with his nephew, but once Cristian has them, they can be added to his file against the county police.
Also yesterday, Hetti sent the family 750 RON (approx. 170 euros) towards legal fees in their case against OMV-Petrom. The search for a pro bono lawyer continues, so if anyone has any connections for that, please contact Hetti either via FB or at email@example.com.
Further news is that a formal complaint filed by activists from Ploiesti to the county police on behalf of Cristian Furcelea has been answered. Signed by George Dinica at Prahova County Police Inspectorate, the response repeats that they were not responsible for Cristian's arrest, subsequent beating, etc., but does not 'exclude' the possibility that the police team could have been sent from another area or county. There will be a full police investigation. Let's hope they will do what needs to be done without bias, and those found to have carried out such a brutal act dealt with appropriately.
2nd April UPDATE: Activist Hetti Benedek received the hospital discharge papers for Cristian Furcelea today, where you can read in black and white that he had been beaten up. Great, right? Wrong. This is Absurdistan, after all. It seems that the hospital discharge document is invalid. Why? Because it has been replaced by a NEW discharge document. This is the OLD one that hasn't been in administrative circulation for 4 years. Cristian must be in possession of a document called HIPOCRATE which is used on a national scale these days. Absolutely insane. WHY would a hospital give a document to a patient proving his admission, discharge, diagnosis and treatment that is no longer valid throughout the entire country, so useless, unless that was the plan. A nice sowing of obstacles... Does Mr Furcelea now have to take on the health service as well as the police and OVM-Petrom? Come on. Give the guy a break.
In this latest update, Hetti also adds that she has sent donations that cover half the lawyer's fees in the case against the county police so far. The family DESPERATELY need a pro bono lawyer, so if anyone has any connections, please contact Hetti.
More news as it happens (and bravo Hetti!).
2nd April, 23h: Hetti (not only activist now, but super-sleuth extraordinaire) found out earlier today that if the 'old' papers from the hospital are signed by a doctor, they are accepted in a court of law. Amazingly enough, they ARE signed by a doctor, so thank goodness for that!
(Photo source) How difficult it is to write about Ana Blandiana, one of Romania's most outstanding contemporary poets (and my favourite), for I cannot find the words deep enough nor rich enough to describe her. With every bit of the country of my heart that gets destroyed and abused, my faith in humanity dies a little. People like Ana Blandiana, Doina Cornea, Ion Varlam, the not-long deceased Vasile Paraschiv, the much-mourned Cicerone Ionescu and others like them bring that faith back to life again....
I must admit to having become something of an 'Ana-groupie' over the last fourteen years. Sighetu Marmatiei, Bucharest, Paris... Buying her (translated) books, getting them signed and meeting her is always a joy, for wherever she is, that incredible warmth and that lovely smile simply overwhelm everyone and everything else within a two mile radius. Her humanity and her goodness are so enveloping that she lights up an entire room. Her courage through such unthinkable times, her tableaux of honesty, decency and fate painted through the words of her poetry and her constant battling for freedom make her a rarity. The world needs more Ana Blandianas. Far more.
If the name 'Ana Blandiana' draws a blank for anyone out there, let's nip that in the bud at once!
(Photo source) Otilia Valeria Coman was born on 25th March, 1942 in Timisoara. When she was fifteen, she and a group of school friends who would read poetry to each other decided to have a contest on who could come up with the best pseudonym. Otilia put Ana together with Blandiana (the name of her mother's village near Vintu de Jos in Alba County) to rhyme and ended up winning the contest. Sending two poems to a magazine in Cluj (Tribunal) under the newly found pen-name, they were both published. However, afraid of getting into trouble for using a false name, Otilia wrote to the magazine admitting it was a nom de plume. One of the editors, obviously recognising her talent, replied: "Your name is staying as it is. From now on, you are Ana Blandiana." And that, as they say, was that. Ana Blandiana was born.
She described what happened next in an interview in 2003 with Naomi Frandzen of Georgetown University (Washington DC):
"Unfortunately, within two weeks, the authorities of Oradea had found out who I was (remember I was just a child of 15 or 16) and sent a memo to all literary publications across the country. After ‘89, this very memo was published in a collection of documents that I read only recently in the archives of Iasi stating, "We call your attention to the fact that the daughter of the enemy of the people, Gheorghe Coman, currently in prison, is hiding under the name Ana Blandiana and should not be published." This was my first ban. After '89, I remember saying in an interview (which later became famous) that the paradox of my destiny was that I was known as a banned writer before I was even known as a writer. No one knew who I was, I had only published two poems and yet the whole literary community knew that there was a little girl who was censored..."
Her father, Gheorghe (1915-1964) was originally a high school teacher who became a priest when he was forbidden to teach, and spent many years in communist prisons. He died in an accident a couple of days after his release through a general amnesty. Her father's influence is not only seen in her intrinsically spiritual vision of existence, but also in her dissidence and independence of thought.
Marrying essayist Romulus Rusan in 1960, Ana studied at the Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj from 1963-7. After graduation, she settled in Bucharest and worked as a literary magazine editor and fine arts librarian. Ten years later, she was able to write full-time - not only poetry and prose fiction but also regular columns for cultural newspapers. From 1974-91, she wrote for the major weekly Revista Literara, with a number of gaps during which the Ceausescu government censored the publication of her work.
(Image source) In 1984, Ana Blandiana's unforgettable poem 'Totul' ('Everything' - see HERE in English with explanations) was briefly published in the literary magazine Amfiteatru. 'Totul' was a list of elements of daily life in Bucharest at the time, contrasting the 'official' view of life in Romania with the peoples' perception of its monotonous drabness and gloom. The upshot was the withdrawal of Amfiteatru's edition within hours of publication and the firing of all editors. Nevertheless, the poem appeared in translation in Western media and also had limited underground circulation in Romania.
In 1988, she was denounced to the authorities as being the author of "Motanul Arpagic", a thinly disguised fable which ridiculed the Conducator, represented by a tomcat (hers, in fact!). Although she was not arrested, she became a virtual prisoner in her own home. Her post was restricted, her phone cut off, she was put under constant Securitate surveillance and her visitors were intimidated. These conditions would probably have gone on for a great deal longer had Ceausescu not been overthrown in December 1989. Restrictions were then lifted and the Securitate surveillance car parked in front of her house finally disappeared.
(Photo source) Ana Blandiana and Romulus Rusan (creator of NGO Alianța Civică in 1990) are both known and much admired in Romania (and beyond) for the founding in 1993 of The Memorial to the Victims of Communism and to the Resistance at the notorious penitentiary in Sighetu Marmatiei, northern Maramures. Both the museum there and the International Centre for Studies into Communism (in Bucharest) have shattered the barriers of taboo on crucial topics and previously unexplored territory stimulating debate via symposia, seminars, workshops and round-table discussions.
"In Romania, we discovered that more than 200 revolts of farmers took place against forced collectivisation but had remained unknown to the public," says Ana Blandiana.
"Understanding what took place - the repression we felt for 50 years - one can understand the hangover from this period of totalitarianism in Romania, and why the country still struggles to establish the rule of law and a solid democracy," she adds.
The creation of the Memorial to the Victims of Communism and to the Resistance is a means of counteracting this victory, a means of resuscitating collective memory.
Made up of the Sighet Museum and the International Centre for Studies into Communism based in Bucharest, as well as holding Summer Schools, the Memorial is an institution of Memory, unique in that it is simultaneously an institute of research, museography and education.
To the question, "Can memory be relearned?" the answer of the Memorial to the Victims of Communism and to the Resistance in Romania is a resounding "Yes".
(from The Hour of Sand, Selected Poems 1969-1989, p.58, translated by Peter Jay and Anca Cristofovici)
(Image source: David Croitor - Acoperisuri in Bucurestiul vechi) Not long ago and quite by chance, I fell upon the work of artist David Croitor on my Facebook newsfeed. Instantly charmed by his style, colours and subjects, I rushed off to find out more. Befriending him on FB, I discovered not only a deeply sensitive artist, but a very nice chap holding the brush.
Member of the Writers' and Artists' Association in Vatra Dornei (his home), the "Nicolae Tonitza" Art Association in Suceava and the Artists' Association in Mures, David Croitor was born in Suceava in 1958. He studied under artist Dimitrie Loghin (1910-1982) from 1978 and then Aurel Aniţei in Bucharest from 1981 before going on to graduate at the capital's Geology Faculty. His first solo exhibition was held at the University of Bucharest in 1986, which lead to many more. Since then, he has participated in many collective and personal exhibitions and, today, his work can be found in private collections in the UK, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Canada and the US.
(Image source: David Croitor) Favouring oil, there's definitely something of the Van Gogh in David's work. From villages to landscapes, still life to portraits, it is impossible to look away until you have soaked up the vibrance, the tenderness, that are present in each and every one.
David's inspiration is deeply rooted in his native Bucovina. The smell of newly stacked hay is almost overwhelming, the clip-clop of horses as clear as day and the old houses so touching in their colourful lopsidedness that they utterly melt your heart. From each deserted street, each neglected or abandoned home, each ricketty roof, hidden poetry is born.
(Image source: David Croitor) To Balcic, the rooves of Bucharest, a garden step, a field of sunflowers, the boats of Sozopol, wherever they take you, they are all a cry for home... Dor.
Beautiful. Passionate. Without exception.
(Image source: David Croitor - Bucurestiul vechi , cartierul Uranus [demolat] u/p , 72/65 cm, 2010)
(Image source: David Croitor - Ponoarele, Mehedinti)
(Image source: David Croitor - Casa Veche)
(Image source: David Croitor)
(Image source: David Croitor - Balcic, poarta spre mare)
All images published with the kind permission of David Croitor. Thank you!
(Image source) The launching of Ultimul Nud (The Last Nude) by Ellis Avery, translated into Romanian by translator and journalist (ex-Reuters) Roxana Dascalu at Libraria Humanitas near Cismigiu on April 1st at 19h promises to be full of surprises. A translator of prose and poetry for Lettre Internationale, the Romanian Writers' Union and Cultura magazine, this is Roxana's literary 'book' debut.
Hosted by Denisa Comănescu (poet and director of Humanitas Fiction since 2007), the evening will include an eight minute reading by promising young actress Ada Condeescu, a presentation by the head of the book's translation editors, another speaker yet to be divulged and a speech by Roxana herself on the 'pangs' of translation. If I know anything at all about Roxana, it'll be full of wit and honesty, so don't miss it! Also invited: Ioana Avădani, director of the Centre for Independent Journalism in Romania; journalist for AP Alison Mutler and Pavel Șușară, journalist, author, critic and art historian.
In what is still considered a pretty homophobic country, this is a brave debut for Roxana. As is the case in a number of other Eastern European countries, Romania remains socially conservative with regard to the rights of its gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens. In June last year, an amendment to Romania's new constitution backed by MPs and the Orthodox Church defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman uniquely, and only last week, the bill on same sex civil partnerships was unanimously ruled against by a parliamentary committee. Proposed by Green MP Remus Cernea, it met with staunch opposition from all parties in the Senate with just 2 votes in favour and 105 against, before being overwhelmingly rejected by the judicial Commission of Romania’s Chamber of Deputies. Cernea hopes to reintroduce the bill at a later date, although given the stiff resistence, it is unlikely to fare much better for some time yet.
Despite that, Romania has made progress in LGBT rights legislation since 2000. Over the last ten years, it has fully decriminalised homosexuality, introduced and enforced wide-ranging anti-discrimination laws (though how much they are upheld, I cannot say), equalised the age of consent and introduced laws against homophobic hate crimes. Furthermore, LGBT communities have become more visible in recent years, as a result of events such as Bucharest's annual GayFest Pride Parade and Cluj-Napoca's Gay Film Nights festival. In 2006, Romania was named by Human Rights Watch as one of five countries in the world that had made "exemplary progress in combating rights abuses based on sexual orientation or gender identity."
Having said that, The National Council for Combating Discrimination released a report, "Perceptions and Attitudes Regarding Discrimination in Romania" in April 2012. The results were pretty shocking and show there is still a long way to go:
- 18% felt that homosexuals were discriminated very little.
- 17% believed sexual minorities were badly discriminated.
- 31% responded that they would not feel comfortable at all around a homosexual person and 30% would feel only slightly comfortable.
- 63% stated they would be very much bothered if a same-sex person would try to make advances toward them.
- 54% stated they would never have a meal with a homosexual.
- 48% stated they would be very disturbed if they found out that a family member was gay.
- 40% would be equally disturbed if their children had a gay teacher.
On 7 November 2012, the Romanian Institute for Evaluation and Strategy released a three part study. In part II, the study notes the following level of tolerance toward homosexuals:
- 79.7% of those questioned would not want a homosexual neighbor
- 53% preferred that homosexuality be outlawed (compared to 62% in 2006)
(Photo source) Books by known gay and lesbian authors have been selling in Romania for years - Anais Nin, Edith Wharton, Alice Walker and Maya Angelou spring to mind. I won't even bother to mention Oscar Wilde, DH Lawrence and Virginia Woolf (whose works don't come under the LGBT flag, but were either gay or bisexual in any case). Carturesti bookstores have had LGBT book sections since last summer. The arrival of Ultimul Nud in Romanian will, I hope, lead to a little more understanding, an opening of minds and an increase in tolerance that was so lacking in the 2012 reports. Either that, or it'll go completely the other way and cause an utter scandal... Whichever way it goes, it will hit the press, get people talking, lead to debate and that can only be for the greater good, right? The days of taboo, single-minded ignorance and the refusal to accept those different from oneself when it comes to sexuality should be well and truly over at this point in time, as countries all over the world and various states in the US (excluding the bible-bashing belt) welcome same sex unions.
In this stunningly intimate reimagining of an important year in the life of Tamara de Lempicka, we follow the young woman who was her muse for several famous paintings, in particular La Belle Rafaela. On her way from the United States to Italy, Rafaela Fano stole away to France to escape an arranged marriage. Destitute and nearing desperation, a chance meeting with Tamara turned into a lucrative job, and eventually a relationship between the two women.
Once La Belle Rafaela was finished and set to appear at the Salon, selling even before the event, two mysterious art enthusiasts begin to vie for Tamara’s remaining works – especially the ones featuring Rafaela. Mostly told through Rafaela’s perspective, we find in her an honest protagonist, sympathetically portrayed and easily liked. Tamara’s character, however, is an intriguing mix of credulous wonder and grudging admiration that has the reader questioning her motives.
Free April 1st at 19h? Then get thee to Humanitas near Cismigiu!
There is horrific news this evening of an attack on 16 cats in Bucharest - attacks by animals of the two-legged variety I hasten to add. For now, it all still remains rather vague, but here is what happened as I understand it:
Once upon a time, an elderly lady who lived in an apartment block at str. Arad nr. 49 in Bucharest looked after 16 pussycats. Some stayed with her indoors whilst others were fed in the courtyard. Unfortunately, the lady became very ill and is currently in hospital. Her nephew either moved into the flat or was going backwards and forwards in any case, and let the cats all out into the street. Apparently, he's not much of a cat fan.
It is not clear how long the cats were out there, but the neighbours started to complain. And SOMEONE contacted the dog-catchers. Dog-catchers? For cats? Or maybe the person simply didn't know the difference between the two. You'd think the dog-catcher would know. In any case, the dog-catchers showed up and... oh God... shot the cats with tranquilisers, threw poison (furadan) over them, chucked them all in a cage next to a bunch of dogs and took them off to a dog shelter.
Fourteen of the sixteen cats died, either from the tranquilisers, the poison or from shock.
The two little darlings that survived were rescued from the shelter by a lady after the story broke, and taken to the vets. One of them, a Burmese (a BURMESE!!!) was soaked in furadan.
Apart from the initial horror of such heinous brutality (both on the part of the neighbours AND on the part of the dog-catchers), this raises some VERY worrying questions:
1) Is it legal for dog-catchers to concern themselves with CATS?
2) Is it legal for CATS to be taken by dog-catchers to shelters for DOGS?!
3) The lady who rescued the cats from the dog shelter was apparently asked to sign an adoption paper. Whaaaat?!? They were cats NOT dogs. Since when did dog shelters have contracts for adopting cats?!
Law 258 /26-09-2013 stipulates management for homeless dogs. Nowhere does it mention cats.
Now, the director of the Politia Comunitara in sector 1, Andrei Mihail, is asking for the two surviving cats to be returned to the shelter for adoptions are not permitted until 7 days have passed. Mais...je rêve... ou quoi?! It's one irregularity after another resulting in one grotesque aberration.
This is not the first time such a story has shocked animal-lovers (and even those who aren't). Not that long ago, an elderly blind man in Bucharest was forced by 'authorities' to take his cats into a field on the outskirts of the city and LEAVE THEM THERE. He couldn't see, but he HEARD them being mauled apart by dogs.
What is happening in the city of my heart? What has caused individuals from such a warm and generous nation to do such evil things? Were they beaten as children? Denied dolls and teddybears? Forced to play soldiers? Or are they just weak, pathetic people who have no other way to get their kicks? Empty beer cans where their hearts should be? For the last few years, we have constantly read about the appalling abuse piled on the long-suffering street dogs. And as if that's not bad enough, now it's cats. Cats!
This is a story that needs distributing and more info is required. What happened to those 14 little souls certainly doesn't seem to have been legal, no matter which way you chew on it. Heads should roll. The nephew, the neighbours, the dog-catchers, the local police, City Hall - whoever has a gramme of responsibility should feel the pain of furadon splashed all over them and the powerless terror of a tranquiliser-overdose whilst lying in a cage left to die. It is too late for the 14 angels murdered today. The 2 who miraculously survived, I hope, will be allowed to remain with their kind rescuer for the rest of their days. And I hope to God that the poor old lady lying in hospital NEVER gets to know what an idiot she has for a nephew (if she hasn't already twigged), nor, above all, what happened to the cats she loved and fed.
Today I wanted to write a nostalgic blog about 1 Martie, the first day of spring. Instead, I end up writing a horror story. A shameful story. A story that shows a mentality so cruel, so warped, that it is beyond description.
I look at my own cats and thank the powers that be that they live in a civilised country...