28 years are marked on Wednesday since the bloodiest miners’ riot in Romania that claimed tens of people’s lives, of whom only six were identified. 746 persons were injured.
It all started on May 20, 1990 when the then President Ion Iliescu and his party, the National Salvation Front (FSN) were winning parliamentary and presidential elections. This prompted the right wing parties’ supporters to stage massive protests, denouncing the “neo-communist” ruling and asking for the state television’s independence and for the truth on the 1989 Revolution.
Later on the night of June 12, the authorities clashed with the protesters who have been staying in the University Square for 52 days. That night President Iliescu issued a release calling “all conscious and responsible” forces to intervene against “the extremist groups”.
Troops of the Anti-terrorist Fight Special Unit surrounded the square with Police’s buses, Molotov cocktails and stones were thrown and the Police buses set on fire. Bucharest Police, Interior Minister and SRI’s headquarters have been attacked and also set on fire.
On the evening of June 13, three sets of cars full of miners left from Petrosani to Bucharest, while another train left the next day from Motru train station to the Romanian Capital.
Once they got to Bucharest, the miners led by Miron Cozma went to University Square, as Ion Iliescu had asked them to from the Government’s balcony: “I am addressing to you, thanking for your proletarian solidarity answer (…) The miner delegation, led by Mr. Cozma will go to University Square, that we want you to get back.”
In University Square, the miners pretended to readjust the flower saplings destroyed by the protesters’ tents and broke into the Geology Faculty, where they occupied the balcony and devastated the Students League’ HQs. The same happened to the Philology and Maths Faculties, as well as at the Architecture Institute. Numerous professors and students were beaten back then. The miners also devastated the headquarters of the historic Peasant and Liberal parties and occupied the state-owned public TV broadcaster.
All who “were suspected as being intellectuals” were beaten, taken up in patrol wagons and interrogated at Magurele military unit.
International public opinion used to condemn the events that were covered by TV stations and newspapers all over the world. US State Department also reacted, saying that “the actions authorized by president Iliescu and his Government struck at the heart of Romanian democracy.”
Nearly 28 years after the violence in the University Square, the first appearance in court in the miners’ riot file on June 13-15, 1990 has taken place on February 20, 2018. Among the defendants who would come before the judges of the Supreme Court are former President Ion Iliescu, former Prime Minister Petre Roman and the former leader of the Jiu Valley miners, Miron Cozma. They are accused, alongside former SRI Chief Virgil Măgureanu, Adrian Sîrbu and Gelu Voican Voiculescu, of crimes against humanity. The file is huge, it has over 400 volumes describing in detail all the acts of violence that led to the deaths of four people and the injuries of nearly 1,400.