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Colectiv and Certej – October 30 to November 12 in Bucharest

October 30 marked three years since the Colectiv club fire, and of course multiple events were once again announced, at least four, that I know of, being scheduled to start at 5 PM, while the one which I guess should be considered the more “official” one was set to start at 7 PM. Still, it all worked out, since at least the location was the same, the park at Unirii, and people could start gathering from 5 PM, or perhaps even earlier for some, while the march actually started at 7:15 PM. In between, a giant canvas cross was built and the names and ages of those killed were written on it.
What seemed inappropriate and annoyed some of the participants was that access towards the fountains, on the other side of that small park, was closed off, apparently due to rehearsals for the December 1 festivities, which meant we were seeing a light show and had to listen to the anthem and possibly other patriotic songs as well, though I’m not sure about this last part. Since the time and place of the gathering was known a long time in advance, and should have in fact been obvious even if the authorities wouldn’t have been notified, they could have scheduled those rehearsals so they won’t overlap, even by simply starting them after the march would have cleared the area.
Though there were no more specific plans mentioned for the rest of the evening, the march was again called “The March of Guitars” and guitarists were again asked to bring their guitars and play and sing. However, while I did spot a few more guitar cases, only two actually made use of their guitars, and occasionally their voices, before, during and after the march, a violinist also joining them at that time, as you can see in the pictures I took. Under those circumstances, calling it the “March of Torches” would have likely been more appropriate, since torches had been brought and they were lit and given to people at the start of the march, though at the end they pretty much became props for one of the shows being broadcast from there that evening.
The march itself started at 7:15 PM and reached Bucur Square at 7:50 PM, but some were already there, some came even earlier, during the day, while others came later, people still heading in that direction even after 8:30 PM, when I left. Estimates vary wildly, as I saw anything from 1500 to 5000, but considering what I saw during the march and how packed that area was at the end, I’m certain that the low end of that range is completely wrong. The high end may be too high for the march itself, but the total might have in fact been even higher.
One of the topics for discussion was how politicians observed the moment, and the fact that the President was the only major figure to come, earlier during the day. Some members of USR were there, including the party’s president, but the people were referring to the leadership of the big parties, and saying that even if some would have wanted to show up, they likely knew better than to try, people being angered even more after the Prime Minister simply walked away after being asked earlier that day whether she had a message for the occasion. An official message was posted by the Government later, but I’d say that only made things worse, showing that they had been unprepared for it, having perhaps somehow hoped to be able to ignore the event.

Moving on, days later, apparently on November 2, there was a new development in the Rosia Montana matter, a brief on behalf of the Romanian civil society being submitted, adding the perspective and experience of the community to the information presented before the court which will rule on the company’s demand of $4 billion from the Romanian state, as compensation for not being allowed to go ahead with the mining project. But what I’ll actually write about here is that, also on November 2, an urgent campaign was started, asking people to send comments to the Ministry of Waters and Forests, demanding to block the clearing of 56 hectares of forest, including a rare mix of tree species and important bird habitats, for the Certej mining project, which will use similar methods, therefore causing similar destruction and carrying similar risks, and which is actually closer to actually starting than the Rosia Montana one ever was. With the draft proposal to allow this clearing already published and a statement released on November 5 revealing that the Government had already received the fee for clearing the entire area in question, there was no time to lose.
There was an older petition to sign as well, but it took quite a while for people to be reminded of that as part of the campaign, probably in an attempt to avoid offering such an easy way to feel like you’re doing something without taking the action which was supposed to have a much bigger impact. However, the petition and the signatures gathered until then were delivered to the Ministry this Monday, when a small protest also took place, from 11 AM. Only a few people were there at that hour, but as the activists gave interviews to several reporters and eventually also went inside to meet with a Secretary of State, since the Minister was not available, the number of participants reached about 20, though some had already left by 11:55 AM, when everyone cleared away. Low turnout, but for an event taking place at that hour on a weekday, and an overcast and foggy weekday at that, I guess it was all right, and the media presence and the formal meeting, probably along with the “golden chainsaw”, were what generated the impact, not the numbers. The “chainsaw” wasn’t actually delivered to the Ministry though, since it’d have quite certainly just been thrown away and it’s unfortunately almost certain that it’ll be needed again in the future.
It would appear that the Ministry representative stated during the meeting that the information regarding the at least questionable, and even clearly illegal, way in which that forest ended up in the property of the mining company was new to them and they will look into it, though the investigation had been published years ago and its findings mentioned again during this campaign, including by members of USR, so a party represented in the Parliament. There was also a promise to organize a public debate on the matter, supposedly a proper one this time around, which should at least offer more time, if little else.

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