Romania: Authoritarians Trample On Constitution, Civil Rights

Treading fearlessly…

Sounds and images from Kazakhstan (wink) for your reading background music (below)

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In preparation for the NATO summit and during the period of the NATO Summit in Bucharest, the Romanian state and Bucharest city government may have violated all or more than the following Romanian Constitutional articles:

1. Article 21 Access to Justice
2. Article 23 Individual Freedom
3. Article 24 Right to legal counsel
4. Article 25 Freedom of movement
5. Article 29 Freedom of conscience
6. Article 30 Freedom of expression
7. Article 39 Freedom of assembly
8. Article 40 Right of association

In consideration of these abuses of national and local government powers, a Romanian civil liberties group has filed an official complaint with the Romanian Public Ministry – the same institution which may be responsible for said violations. Some Romanians, however, believe that complaints should be taken to the EU Courts for Human Rights in Brussels. They argue that the Romanian Public Ministry is unlikely to condemn itself or those officials within the institution which continuously demonstrates its contempt for the Romanian Constitution.

The most cynical of Romanian critics believe this civil liberties group is conspiring with the Romanian government to take the heat off by allowing such questions to be handled by the foremost guilty party and, as soon as possible, to be swept under the carpet and forgotten. Interestingly, this is no serious story about this in the mainstream Media (Television, Print or Radio).

Are Romanian journalists intellectually incapable? Or are they cowards – afraid of the fight for Freedom and Democracy?

Eleanor Roosevelt once wrote:

“It is not only in war, however, that we fight for freedom. One fights for freedom in personal contacts and in many phases of civilian life. At all times, day by day, we have to continue fighting for freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom from want, for all these things that must be gained in peace as well as in war.”

What happened

According to the Romanian Press and main stream media, nothing much happened on April 3rd, 2008.

According to reports of the persons involved, peaceful educational activities (the showing of anti-Nato and anti-globalization films) were planned at a rented facility. Supposedly, the manager canceled the rental contract and refused to return the fully pre-paid rental fees and a verbal dispute arose between the manager of the facility, a security guard, and two persons representing the renters. The police were called. Anti-terrorist assault teams [stormtroopers] arrived on the scene and proceeded to arrest all persons at the facility with the exception of the facility manager and security guard. Some injuries occurred to those persons and they were taken to the hospital.

According to anonymous reports, those persons taken into custody were denied access to or communication with legal representatives and/or their embassies.

According to press accounts, all persons in the facility were taken into custody and held for questioning. The press sent one or more persons to learn more about the situation and at least one person was detained by police at a separate detention location.

The chief of Police confirmed that females from the said facility were released immediately thereafter. Males were held for many hours. Although the police describes all the detained persons as protesters; the authorities decided that the detained were not a threat to the state nor were any of them in possession of materials and propaganda that was considered to be a threat to the state.

There also remains unconfirmed reports that others were randomly picked up off the streets by members of the anti-terrorist brigade and police, but no one is coming forward. And no journalists are coaxing them to come forward.

How to accept totalitarianism and rock on with your little life: take drugs and learn schranz

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Association for the Solidarity for Freedom of Conscience

The following is my translation of most of the public statement made by the civil liberties group, the Association for the Solidarity for Freedom of Conscience, as made publicly available at www.humanism.ro (RUM):

The Association for Solidarity for Freedom of Conscience [SFCA] has filed a criminal complaint against the Romanian Police, Romanian anti-terrorist assault teams, and officials of the associated public institutions. The brutalities committed on April 2nd 2008 against 54 people are to be observed. These persons were peacefully and orderly engaged in non-violent debates and dialogues about cultural and civic issues and questions including the NATO subject.

On April 2nd 2008, between 14.00 – 23.00, Mr. Emil Moise of the SFCA was in contact with the victims brutalized by Romanian Police and members of the Romanian anti-terrorist brigade. The SFCA was unable to defend the rights of the young people that were taken into custody, beaten, and retained. We observed an abuse of the rights of an individual to freedom and security including the individual’s rights to due process, free conscience of opinion, free speech, freedom to assemble, and freedom of association…

This morning, the SFCA filed a criminal complaint to the Romanian Public Ministry against Romanian Police, Romanian Anti-terrorist Brigade, and officials of associated public institutions [such as the Romanian Public Ministry]. We believe them to be guilty of several national crimes.

Due to our observations during the previous weeks, the SFCA considers that the totalitarian security measures occasioned by the organization of the NATO summit in Bucharest exceeded reasonable measures for a democratic state. The condition of civil liberties in Romania has degenerated into the same poor condition that is characterized of in totalitarian countries. This tragic irony has terrible consequences on the fundamentals of democracy – fundamentals that NATO requires of its members and proclaims to protect. Due to the decisions [or lack of decisions] of public officials, the real level of democracy of Romania is in doubt.

The present totalitarian mindset reminds us of the past. It is evidenced by the violent, repressive intervention of the Police and anti-terrorist assault teams on the one hand and, on the other hand, the unconvincing and ambiguous explanations offered by Police spokesman Mr. Cristian Ciocan.

The SFCA would also like to illuminate the illegal interdiction by the City Hall against any and all kinds of protests, on any subject, beginning March 24th. The initiative [authorized by Mayor Adrien Videanu of the Democrat Party, PD] was unconstitutional and has no legal authority. Such totalitarian interdictions are arbitrary, abusive and contradict the fundamental Constitutional rights that secure and ensure Romanian democracy.

[The criminal complaint made by the Solidarity for Freedom of Conscience Association is registered at the Romanian Public Ministry as no. 1677/C/03.04.2008]

Emil Moise

Charlton Heston

Learning that Charlton Heston passed from us today at the age of 84, I am reminded of his passionate enthusiasm for the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution which Heston expressed through his work with the National Rifle Association (NRA). Several generations of Americans will remember Heston for his roles as Anthony in Julius Caesar (1950), Moses in The Ten Commandments (1956), Ben-Hur (1959), George Taylor in Planet of The Apes (1968), Detective Robert Thorn in Solyent Green (1973) and much more including Heston’s several appearances on Saturday Night Live.

Charlton Heston in Omega Man, scene of protagonist’s memory of the end of the world

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Whatever his faults which we know about or which we are yet to learn, the memory of Heston’s commanding presence reminds me of what it should mean to be a man- a man who judged things as good or evil according to moral absolutes, who spoke forcefully and without apology about the things in which he believed, and, a man, who seemed to pragmatically understand what was wrong with his world and what he had to engage himself in… in order to preserve his own integrity and the great promise of the world to his children, family, friends and the, more abstractly considered, human family.

I worry for my son – although John Thomas is only three now and his greatest present concern is when I will get him a trike. For good or bad, he is in his mother’s custody. And, somehow, he is in the custody of Romania. I fear what will happen to him, growing up in a culture without heroes like Charlton Heston, James Stuart, John Wayne, Superman, Bruce Lee, Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, Abraham Lincoln, Booker T. Washington, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

How shall John Thomas become a courageous, conscientious, and heroic man… and make the world his own- if he grows up in a culture that bows and scraps to authoritarian rule, mafia money, and the neon god they made.

Simon and Garfunckel, Sounds of Silence below:

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Stan Faryna
April 6th, 2008
Bucharest, Romania

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About Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna is a Global Voices author and translator. Global Voices is a non-profit global citizens’ media project founded at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, a research think-tank focused on the Internet’s impact on society.

Mr. Faryna is the founder and co-founder of several technology, design and communication companies in the United States and Europe including Faryna & Associates, Inc., Halo Interactive, and others.

His political, scholarly, social and technical opinions have appeared in The Chicago Defender, Jurnalul National, The Washington Times, Sagar, Saptamana Financiara, Social Justice Review, and other publications.

Mr. Faryna also served as editor-in-chief of Black and Right (Praeger Press, 1996), a landmark collection of socio-political essays by important American thinkers including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Copyright

Copyright 1996 to 2008 by Stan Faryna.

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