December 16, the sparkle in Timisoara that unleashed the Romanian Revolution
President-elect Klaus Iohannis attended the events commemorating 25 years since the fall of the communism.
Timisoara was the first city where “Down with Ceausescu” slogan was heard on December 16 and the first place where massive protests were staged, representing the sparkle that practically triggered the entire Romanian Revolution.
All started with the communist authorities’ attempt to transfer the Magyar reformed bishop Laszlo Tokes from his post and to evict him from his church flat. On 15 December, a human chain was formed around the block where Tokes was living. The pastor thanked the crowd for support but advised them to leave, and yet several hundred stayed in groups close to the flat. Demonstrations continued the next two days. On Sunday, 17 December, the army fired into the crowd and tens of people were reportedly dead. On 18 December, tens of thousands of industrial workers in Timi?oara peacefully took up the protest; by 20 December the city was effectively in insurrection.
The news of the protests and the violent government crackdown spread quickly across Romania and triggered many more protests and so what is called the Romanian Revolution has broken out, overthrowing dictator Nicolae Ceau?escu and the Communist ruling.
Romania has been commemorating the Revolution and its martyrs for 25 years now and they begin to pay their tribute precisely on December 16, considered the first day of the Revolution.
Commemoration events in Timisoara on Tuesday were attended by the Romania’s President-elect Klaus Iohannis. He laid a wreath at the Revolution Monument in the Heroes Cemetery, then he lit candles on the Metropolitan Cathedral’s stairs, where several young persons were shot to death during the Revolution. Iohannis hold a speech late in the evening at Timisoara Opera where he attended the carols gala concert performed by the Madrigal National Choir.
During his Opera speech, the Romanian future President pleaded for “a great national communism museum to inspire big educational projects”. He also pointed out that Romanian have proved they haven’t learnt anything from history and have ignored “the past’s lessons” for too many times. “As President, I will plead for such a communism museum to be set up, for a president must watch over the protection of his nation’s memory,” he said. Iohannis paid his tribute to those who gave their lives in 1989, saying that their courage inspired an entire nation. “It is easier to talk about freedom compared to its opponent, it is harder to talk about freedom in a world that keeps only its appearance. Freedom is not challenge free not even today, it is never useless to talk about freedom”, he also stated.
Previously in the afternoon, Iohannis told over 600 professors and students of West University in Timisoara that the fact he came to Timisoara 25 years since the burst of 1989 Revolution represents “more than an accomplished promise to him”. He pledged to turn education into a top national priority, even if a president has no executive responsibilities in this field. In Iohannis’ view, Romania has the necessary human asset to create a high performing educational system.