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Forests, Koliva and Another March – March 11 and 12 in Bucharest

Gave up on the idea of adding another update going all the way up to today, so I’ll just quickly write one for March 11 and 12, marking the last two protests I attended. The daily Victory Square protests continued since then and there were a few other events as well, but those I generally refer to when I mention known activists and protesters, those who may be recognized as part of the initial United We Save movement and, more importantly for these posts, those who can then be said to have formed the United We Save Community, rather ignored them, and except to quickly check whether there may be something really worth writing about, so did I. It may be more appropriate to mention the statements released by Demos during this period, but with these posts generally being protest reports, I won’t do so for now.

On March 11 there was of course the usual daily protest, but the reason I went to Victory Square that evening was that a protest for forests had been announced by someone else, with the location being set there as well, the event being created back in February but being discovered and shared rather late by a few known activists. Unfortunately, only perhaps 30 or so others, and that may be an optimistic estimate, were there for that reason, and they rather stayed in one area after a while. I did the same eventually, though I first wandered around to take some pictures. Must note that a few others posted angry messages about having arrived later, around 9:45 PM or even 10 PM, after I had left, and finding very few there, and one person was confused by the few who continued to stage a counter-protest, albeit then with just a couple of banners, and who claimed to be the ones who organized the protest for forests too, due to being the ones who had organized the one at Izvor park.
Should also note that March 11 marked 40 days since the emergency ordinance that sparked these protests was initially adopted, so some of the regular Victory Square protesters brought a tray of koliva and even staged a small memorial service, supposedly to mark 40 days after the death of democracy in Romania. And can’t say that the little act didn’t look good on camera, but in my view it was all wrong and I therefore even refused to take any koliva when it was then offered to those present. I mean, I didn’t want to be symbolically part of something supposedly marking the death of democracy, plus that, considering how things played out, I’d say democracy actually gained something here, which is quite the opposite of dying. Still, saw an estimate of 250 participants that evening, putting everything together, and while that seems to be stretching it from what I saw, it’s not entirely implausible. Also saw a report that some spent the night in the Square again.

March 12 started with another meeting of the Corruption Kills group, who’re the ones who tried to organize these protests to some extent since the beginning, and this time around I actually recognized one person who also attended some United We Save Community forums in the few pictures I saw. Then, in the evening, another Sunday march took place, the main reason for it being that both projects that initially angered people and sparked protests, so the Criminal Code changes but also the pardons that the Government didn’t attempt to grant without the Parliament’s approval in the end, are now being discussed in the Parliament and amendments had been submitted that would have eliminated crimes related to corruption and abuse of office from the exceptions. Past that, there were several other points in the message posted on the event and, of course, different participants had different priorities.
Due to the low numbers, still only in the hundreds at the time, there were actually some problems with starting the march, the gendarmes not being so willing to allow it as soon as the signal was given, around 7:30 PM. That only led to a brief discussion, however, after which the march could go ahead. University Square, where a number of people were waiting to join the crowd, was reached around 8:15 PM, a moment of silence being held and the anthem being sung before moving on again. Unirii Square was reached around 8:40 PM and Constitution Square, where the Parliament is, around 9 PM. Though the idea was to also actually protest there as well, there were too few protesters for that square and the huge building in front of us, plus that it was going to start to drizzle, so people started clearing away not long after that and I for one left at 9:30 PM, after taking some last pictures. I see that estimates tend to mention about 2000 or maybe 2500 participants, with one television station that’s been supporting the protests all along going as high as 3000.

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