Update4: Over 100,000 protesters have gathered in Bucharest on Friday, in Victoriei Square for the Diaspora rally. All streets around the Government building have been blocked by the police force. The first incidents began around 4 p.m. and since then until midnight, hundreds of people needed medical care. Instigators have set on fire various areas, throwing ledges and glasses at gendarmes. In their turn, gendarmes retorted by force. Tens of innocent protesters ended up in hospital.
452 people have been injured overall (24 gendarmes), with 70 of them being hospitalized. A new protest meeting is announced on Facebook, to start in Victoriei Square at 6 p.m.. The event is entitled “We won’t leave until you go”.
Two gendarmes have been beaten and their weapons stolen. The Interior Minister is conducting checks in this matter. One of the gendarme was a woman who has been brutally beaten by several instigators. Most of the protesters have prompted in to help the two gendarmes and made a shield around them until they took the gendarmes to their colleagues. The woman gendarme is currently admitted to the Floreasca Hospital in the Capital, suspected of cervical fracture.
The gendarmes have intervened in force during the rally, with tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protesters in front of the Government building.
Several hundreds people have run away from Victoriei Square when the gendarmes came in force and they remained to protest on Iancu de Hunedoara Boulevard around midnight.
Protesters were shouting “We won’t leave” and were surrounded by a police cordon.
The gendarmes came in force in Victoriei Square on Friday around 23:00hr, chasing the people away, although thousands were still protesting. Squires came in force against protesters, attacking by tear gas grenades and using the water cannon. People were taken by surprise and tried to run away on the boulevards nearby. The overwhelming majority of the protesters were peaceful, however, several instigators have troubled the waters right from the beginning, being the ones who threw glasses and stones at the gendarmes.
The 16-year-old daughter of USR senator Vlad Alexandrescu has been injured during the violence, passing out in front of Antipa Museum due to the tear gas. Her father saw her while she was carried by the medevac team and joined her in the ambulance.
Among protesters to whom tear gas grenades have been shot there were also actors Marius Manole and Istvan Teglas.
President Iohannis asks Interior Minister to explain the violence
President Klaus Iohannis has reacted to the violence during the rally in a Facebook post.
“In a genuine democracy it is the right of every person to protest, but violence is not acceptable, regardless of the political options. I firmly condemn the brutal intervention of the Gendarmerie, which has been strongly disproportionate compared to the manifestation of the majority of the people in Victoriei Square. The attempt to defeat the people’s will through a violent reaction of the police force is a reprehensible solution. The Interior Minister must urgently explain the way she has managed the events tonight!,” reads the President’s post on Friday night.
Update3-23:00hr: Tens of thousands of people protested in Victoriei Square on Friday evening, with Digi24 reporting there were 100,000 of them. Other tens of thousands protested countrywide. According to the same source, at least 10,000 people took to the streets in protest against the Government and the ruling party in Cluj-Napoca, 7,000 in Iasi, 5,000 in Sibiu, 4,000 in Brasov, 2,500 in Timisoara, 1,500 in Baia Mare, 1,200 in Constanta, 800 in Oradea and 200 in Craiova.
The Diaspora rally started at 5 p.m., with the first cars of the protesters arriving since Thursday night. People coming from abroad or from other counties are chanting “Resignation”, “Criminals”, ” “Early elections”, while blowing vuvuzelas.
Protesters displayed placards reading: “PSD, the red plague”, “From Timis, next to Diaspora”, “Down with the corruption”, “We see you”, “No more criminals in public positions”. Many of them were wearing T-shirts or badges with ‘#noCriminals’.
However, right from the start of the rally, protesters were thrusting with the gendarmes and managed to get to the area in front of Victoria Palace, while gendarmes used tear gas and water cannons to push them back. There were 247 people injured around 23:00hr., including nine gendarmes. 16 of the injured were taken to the hospital, four of them being gendarmes.
At some point, the Gendarmerie announced that members of the football fan clubs arrived in the Victoriei Square, urging the people who were peacefully protesting to avoid getting in touch with them or to support their violent actions.
Update2: More than 1,500 people were in Victoriei Square in Bucharest for the Diaspora rally at 5 p.m., blocking the traffic in the square and on Kiseleff Boulevard. Protesters were trying to block the Aviatorilor Boulevard as well, Digi24 reports. At 5 p.m. 36 people needed medical care, two gendarmes and 34 protesters.
However, the situation has calmed down and protesters have been pushed at a distance of several metres from the fence encircling the Government building. Tens of protesters and gendarmes needed medical care, and a person has been taken on a stretcher by the medevac team.
Later on, the representatives of the Bucharest Gendarmerie explained that the gendarmes had used pepper sprays from their service weapons when protesters started throwing blunt objects at them, adding there was no precise order to use the sprays. Gendarmes claim protesters had also thrown pieces of road at them, and even bags of urine and excrement.
“The situation has calmed down. My colleagues have re-sized their squad to avoid new escalating tensions. We’ll identify those who induced these conflicts, who threw blunt objects at the police force, and even bags of urine and excrement. People who were protesting were hot by these objects. Such actions are endangering the safety of all the people. We had two gendarmes injured because of these objects that were thrown. A colleague was more seriously injured, he had a finger fracture. Our message is for a calm, civilized protest,” said Georgian Enache, the Gendarmerie spokesperson.
On the other hand, 34 protesters needed medical care, with witnesses saying they have got sick because of the tear gas. A TV cameraman has also got sick because of the tear gas.
Update1: Over 200 people were already in the Victoriei Square in Bucharest at 13:00hrs for the Diaspora rally scheduled to start at 5 p.m., with the first cars of the protesters arriving since Thursday night. People coming from abroad or from other counties are chanting “Resignation”, “Criminals”, ” “Early elections”, while blowing vuvuzelas.
Protesters displayed placards reading: “PSD, the red plague”, “From Timis, next to Diaspora”, “Down with the corruption”, “We see you”, “No more criminals in public positions”.
First cars of the protesters for the August 10 Diaspora rally have arrived in Bucharest since Thursday night. Tens of thousands of Romanians living in the country or abroad mobilized to attend the meeting today.
The protesters ask for the Government’s resignation and early elections, over discontent with the Social-Democrat ruling and with their decision to amend justice laws and criminal codes, to dismiss the anti-graft chief prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi. Protesters are also outraged by the PM Viorica Dancila’s blunders and by the fact that PSD leader Liviu Dragnea is still at the helm of the Chamber of Deputies although he had been sentenced to prison.
“Romanians from abroad are protesting in Bucharest on August 10. We call our brothers from the country who have been relentlessly protesting against corruption for more than a year to join us. We stand together! WE KEEP ON FIGHTING AGAINST CORRUPTION! We don’t give up democracy! We defend the rule of law. We won’t let injustice, thievery and incompetence win!,” reads one of the messages spread on social media lately.
The anti-government rally has been announced on Facebook for more than a month, wit several event pages being created, with photos with the Romanians abroad who have already left to the Capital being posted. Messages like “We don’t want criminals” and “Diaspora is coming home“, placards, banners, flags and stickers glued to cars and bikes have flooded Facebook.
Romanians from Western European countries, even from US came for the protest
Some Romanians from UK, France, Germany, Austria and Scandinavian countries have met in Budapest, whereof they headed on foot to Sibiu, where they met the motorcade that left Timisoara on Thursday. The motorcades came from Europe, but also those that left from Timisoara, Galati, Pitesti, Ploiesti, Baia Mare, Iasi, Constanta, Craiova and Targu Jiu are to meet in Bucharest today.
Numerous cars have arrived in Victoriei Square since Thursday night, carrying protesters with large tricolor flags.
Some Romanians even came from Chicago, U.S., while a Romanian living and working in Austria had to quit her job to be able to attend the rally.
“I have been in Austria for a year. Unfortunately, I had to resign from my job to come to the protest. I can find other jobs, but protests like this one only happens once in a lifetime,” the young woman told Digi24.
At the same time, several cities in Romania will join similar protests, in solidarity with the Romanians who will protest in Bucharest. Thus, people will take to the streets in Timisoara, Bistrita, Cluj, Galati, while others from Arad, Cluj, Alba Iulia and Brasov will head to the Capital on Friday.
Some Bucharesters rallied to offer free accommodation to the protesters on the night of Friday to Saturday.
Other Romanians living abroad who haven’t managed to get to the anti-government meeting will stage protests in London, Amsterdam and various cities in Spain, Italy and Switzerland, in squares or in front of the Romanian embassies.