Second night of Romania demonstrations after hundreds injured

13 August, 2018, 03:02 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Romanians take part in a demonstration in front of the government headquarters in Bucharest on Friday

Romania, a country of 20 million which hosts a USA ballistic missile defence station, remains among the poorest and most corrupt members of the EU.

The protesters demand the resignation of the government, objecting to the perceived efforts to weaken the judiciary by the governing Social Democrats (PSD), as well as low wages and entrenched corruption in the country.

About 40,000 people gathered in front of government offices in the capital on Saturday evening - fewer than the 100,000 the previous night, shouting "Resignation!, Resignation!", blowing vuvuzelas and waving Romanian and European Union flags.

The demonstrators, many of whom live overseas and returned for the rally, had demanded that the left-wing government resign and that early elections be called.

But President Klaus Iohannis, a critic of the left-wing government, condemned "the brutal intervention of the riot police".

Some protesters in the capital Bucharest threw bottles and paving slabs, while police used tear gas, pepper spray and even a water cannon.

Three journalists said they were also subjected to police violence. The AP said that Georgian Enache, a police spokesman, said the police pushback on Friday was "legitimate state violence" because protesters were refusing to leave despite warnings.

The New York Times: Violence Erupts as Tens of Thousands Protest Corruption in Romania - "An estimated 3 to 5 million Romanians are working and living overseas, the World Bank has said, up to a quarter of the European Union state's population, ranging from day laborers to doctors".

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People shine the lights of their mobile phones during a protest outside the government headquarters, in Bucharest, Romania, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018.

Among the protesters was truck driver Daniel Ostafi, 42, who moved to Italy 15 years ago in search of a future he says Romania could not offer his family. Among them were a number of politicians, including a senator and 28 mayors. Kovesi had support from the president, but the justice minister accused her of overstepping and it was ultimately Iohannis who was forced to fire her after a court ruling.

There were no immediate reports of life-threatening injuries, but Militaru said a female colleague had been "brutally beaten" and has a suspected fractured spine.

Many expat Romanians also returned to take part.

Critics say Romania has lost ground in fighting corruption since the ruling Social Democratic Party assumed power in 2016. Those changes made it through parliament but are now being challenged in the country's constitutional court.

"We strongly condemn the violent clashes in Bucharest where numerous demonstrators and journalists were injured. We expect full explanations".

In early 2017, Romanian protesters took to the streets in response to a decree that loosened corruption laws.

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