The miners on the miner riots

Let?s come back to the first riot. How did things really go in Bucharest?

Well, we got there in the morning and by night we were already back. But the first thing we did was to go in front of the Parliament or anyway some building, perhaps in Victoria Square and mister Iliescu showed up and he thanked the miners for being a force in the country and stuff like that. But I know that the entire demonstration had been peaceful. Even from the north railway Station we had been expected by a couple of cars with milk, three with bread and they shared all of this with us. I know that there hadn?t been destructions or things like that at that moment. I also remember that there were people who were taking us to their hearts. And almost everybody was saying: ?Well done, miners!? and ?Well done for having come to help us get rid of the scum?. Yet, after this riot, I never took part in any other.

Why is that?

Because I know very well what I had to go through during the first one. When we got to Bucharest, in front of the Parliament, the miners were eager to get a closer look to mister Iliescu and I, being shorter and caught in the crush got stepped over. I cannot say they hurt me because the soil was yellow and soft. They couldn?t step aside because they were very many and I also don?t believe that they stepped on me deliberately? it?s just that coming so many from behind and being such a big group they couldn?t walk either on the left or on the right, so they had no space to move.

But then I said to myself ?I will never set my foot on this ground ever again? and it has been so. When I got back home I was covered in yellow soil and my back kind of ached. Arriving at Vulcan I stepped off the bus in the station. But I didn?t know what to do to get back home sooner.

I was wearing the overalls but I was covered in yellow soil and my neighbours knew I was no drunkard to fall down God knows where. So I started walking between the blocks and I didn?t even use the front door to get in, I used the back door.

But didn?t you feel sorry for missing the second riot in June 1990 which was of bigger proportions than the one in January 1990?

No, I wasn?t sorry. This was also because someone had to stay at work to keep an eye on the appliances.

Yet, hadn?t you been forced to take part in that manifestation?

Yes, of course. I didn?t want to go anyway and I talked to a foreman to let me stay in the mine. And he was more understanding, saying that someone had to stay at work. And that was in fact true, since the people going to Bucharest were going to put things in order for us too and those at home were going to watch over the appliances for them. Yet, in spite of the fact that I had to stay in the mine as it had been decided I was dragged out of there by some of my colleagues.

Still, I took off my glow lamp and I wanted to keep a low profile so as not to be seen. Then, a miner, one who was taller and around 40, saw me and took me out to go with the others and pushed me towards the bus. But I said that I had to stay at work to keep on eye on the appliances and if something may have gone wrong, I would have answered for it.

And I blocked the bus door with my hand, saying that I didn?t want to go. But this miner had a scoop shank and he hit me so hard with it that I almost lost my conscience. I shall remember this for the rest of my life. And when he raised the shank to hit me again, I finally stepped in the bus. And that?s how we got to Petroşani at the Industrial Complex.

But, the person who hit me asked another two miners to watch me in case I wanted to run away. And in the Marketplace, in Petroşani, I told them that I had to go and buy cigarettes but, more than that, I needed to run away. But they came with me, bought the cigarettes and came back.

And how did you get rid of them?

Actually I didn?t. I kind of had some chaperones with me who had to take care of me not leaving the gathering in front of the Industrial Complex. I don?t know for how long we had to stay there because some of the miners left the place, heading towards Bucharest. In the end, as people were bunched there, I somehow managed to get away. And, together with a colleague, we hitchhiked and we managed to get in a car which took us to Vulcan.

And did you go to the mine?

No, I went home, spent a couple of hours there and then went back to the enterprise. And there I changed shifts with the colleague who had to stay overtime since I didn?t mange to come back in time. Then I did his shift as well.

But afterwards, weren?t you angry with those who had forced you to go with them?

No, I wasn?t, because I also took into consideration their judgement. I told myself that they weren?t actually thinking too much because somebody had to stay behind to take care of the appliances and they hadn?t even given it a thought. And I had similar problems once. It was another manifestation of this kind, a strike, not a riot. Anyway, people were supposed to go to the Industrial Complex, in Petroşani. I was working on the second shift and a boy, a miner, seeing me with the lamp in my hand said: ?Hoy, you?re coming with us!??And I said: ?No!? Then, a guy called Radu, grabbed me and started to say: ?Mates, this hasn?t taken part in any of our manifestations!? And he started pulling my clothes towards his sector, where their group was gathered. But then, a colleague in my sector, coming out of our sector, grabbed his neck, hit him against the wall and said: ?What?s your problem with him?? and this other mate replied: ?Well, he has never taken part in any manifestation! Let him join us!? But my colleague told him to mind his own business and then this other guy let go of me.

What did you expect from the Revolution in December?

Once with the Revolution, I hoped for a better life, for an easier job, because eight hours in the mine is quite tough and when we shifted to six I saw it as a progress, meaning something easier for us, but then it had been even more difficult especially in what regards the provision with materials. During Ceauşescu?s time, people were saying that we had little or no freedom, but I say we had certain liberties because after work I was able to do, not everything I wanted but at least my things at home. Now, even if we have more freedom, we have nothing to live on.

(B.V- former putter at E.M Petroşani)

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