Hundreds of thousands decry measures that decriminalise graft offences as judicial watchdog announces court challenge.
Bucharest, Romania – Romania has seen an unprecedented turnout of protesters demanding that the rule of law be respected by their own government. For five days in a row, Romanians broke post-communist records in attending rallies and holding politicians to account.
Among them are Simona, 34, and Claudiu Racovita, 33, parents of two, who have taken to the streets in protest each day since the demonstrations began.
“I want my children to live in this country, to have a future here”, Simona says. “It’s for them that we go to protest every day.”
On Saturday, February 4, Bucharest also registered a first: a children’s demonstration. About 15,000 parents and children marched on Victory Square, the seat of the government, to voice discontent over the controversial decree decriminalising official misconduct. This unique protest was the young adult generation teaching their children that they need to stand up for their rights and for the democratic values of society.
“I teach my children it is not right to steal or to lie. What kind of example does these kind of decree show them?” Simona adds.
This newfound civic spirit of Romanians, united against what they perceive to be an abuse by the corrupt political elite, has turned their daily routine upside down and it is the grandparents who have come to their rescue.
They would watch over the children while the parents were out securing a fairer future for their young ones. One father in Victoria Square held a banner saying: “Don’t worry son, you’ll sleep well tonight. Daddy and some friends scared the monsters away.”
At the outset of the demonstrations, protesters were accused by a biased media of being paid money to bring their children to Victoria Square. This false reporting made people even angrier.
Chants were adapted to fit children’s songs and still convey the protesters’ message to politicians.
“We are all normal people, who studied, who work from early in the morning till late in the evening, who have families and children. But we are fed up!” Simona says.
“We are tired, but we will not give in. We will protest for as long as necessary.”