Did you take part in the June 1990 miner riot?
During the miner riot in June 1990 I happened to be in Bucharest visiting my godfather. And he told me: ?look what is going on!? (he was taking about the events in Universităţii Square). ?Wait and see that the miners are going to come to Bucharest!? he added. But I said: ? Why should they come here? What should they
The miners on the miner riots 49
And it was indeed so. The miners came to Bucharest. And I met them there by chance and I asked them: ? What is going on? Why are you here?? And they said: ?Well, can?t you see what these folks are doing here?? You couldn?t actually talk to them because they were very nervous. I remember that Romeo Beja was with them but he wasn?t yet a leader, still he was definitely after fame, wanting to be seen.
Since you had been a witness back then, did you see any violent scenes or something which you particularly remember?
Yes, I saw street fights. And I could see that the miners were being manipulated. There were all sorts of civilians saying: ?this one is high, or that one is a ragamuffin? and the miners were taking him down immediately. They didn?t take the time to check it. So they were being manipulated, it was obvious. All the more, I could see miners in clean overalls, which is hardly possible. The miner is a poor soul: with broken boots and a torn sheepskin coat. So you could tell who was a miner and who was pretending to be.
Yet, what were those in clean overalls?
Some destabilizers since they were guiding them: ?go here, go there?, because the miner cannot know where to go.
Who do you think is responsible for the riots?
I think that Cozma had his big share all the time. Because he was the first to mention the alternative to go to Bucharest both in June 1990 and in September 1991. The truth is that he did-n?t say to the people: ?Let?s go to Bucharest!? but he rather asked them three times: ?Shall we go to Bucharest?? which was actually a rhetorical question under the given circumstances. Since he was such an influential leader he should have said: ?we are not going to Bucharest! We stay here and let the representatives go!? but he did-n?t do it and he was actually the only leader who asked the miners if they wanted to go to Bucharest or not.
(Ion Munteanu, non-commissioned engineer, former leader of the Free Democratic Union from E.M. Paroşeni)
The people had already been put in fear of the great monopoles, of closing down the mines and thus of losing their jobs and they acted accordingly. The 1990 miner riot was caused by people?s fear. This is what happens when you play with people?s sub-conscience and you seed the fear that they are going to lose everything.
(V.C- former miner foreman, presently a pensioner)
There (in Petroşani) we benefited from several sets of cars which took us to the North Railway Station, in Bucharest. From the North Railway Station we walked to Universităţii Square, being led by those who were familiar with the city, I mean you can very well understand? we knew some of them, they were security membersşinfiltrated after the 1987 strike, editor?s noteţ placed in the Valley and we knew them very well and they were the ones who were familiar with Bucharest. And they were showing us (the security people and the inhabitants of the city ? but I cannot tell who they were) which were the residences of the parties, those of the newspapers, where we could find Băcanu, Raţiu, etc.
(V.C- former miner foreman)
Nicolae Cămărăşescu was one of the people who guided us through Bucharest. I met him while he was a security member infiltrated here in the Valley. As far as I know, he was one of those who entered the residence of the Peasant Party and took out lots of dollars. I know it because he came back to the military camp, where my group and I had been accommodated, with booze and money (you could see his pockets full of dollars). And he was bragging, while being drunk: ?Dudes, I can close this military camp down!? and we were dead scared because we had no idea what he wanted to do even if we were carrying guns. And that is because we had been given guns and patriotic guard uniforms, but the guns had no bullets so we weren?t able to use them. There were around 800 soldiers in that camp together with around 600 miners. And we were eating in the same hall with the soldiers. And trust me, we were ashamed of those soldiers. We were served some enormous stakes, plus three beers and a glass of brandy while the soldiers were only given bed-plate (rice). We used to take half of our helping and share it with those kids. We spent an entire week in that military camp.
(V.C- former miner foreman)
I was legally questioned by the military prosecution for the June 1990 miner riot being accused of the fact that us, the foremen, the engineers and the mangers, actually organized the strike. Yet, I denied it and I explained how we had been summoned and told to leave, how we got to the railway station in Bucharest or to the military camp in Ghencea. And the military prosecutor replied: ?Admit that you vandalised the residence of the Peasant Party?
They were actually looking for a scapegoat instead of the real guilty people so that we could be in a foul-up. I realised it right away so I replied: ? How should I say that if it isn?t true! Maybe the residence of the Peasant Party had been vandalised by the miners but, by the time our group got there it had already been destroyed and some miners were pulling down an antenna? ?
During the same trial he made me accept the fact that us, the engineers and the foremen had actually organized the riot? when actually the other foremen and I, together with the engineers took part in the riot in order to hold the miners in check because if the miner gets angry he lets his anger out and we went there to put a restraint on them because if it had been only the miners and the brigade leader, it would have been a disaster. If it hadn?t been for us they would have all probably started drinking because they carried money with them.
Coming back to the trial, I can say that, at the auditions, I blew the lid off the identity of those who had summoned us there.
I was afraid but I had no other choice. And, at the end of the day, everybody knows who they were since an entire country saw who thanked us? I think that we were off the hook not because those who had asked us to come are still holding the power but because we were very heterogeneous, both ethnically and from the point of view of the positions that we had: Romanians and Hungarians, Germans and Gypsies; foremen and brigade leaders, engineers and managers. And I think they were afraid of unjustly condemning somebody and make the whole story go public abroad.
As a matter of fact, the prosecutors knew the facts because during the riot we had been filmed by a French team, right when we entered the military camp where we had been accommodated. And this tape was later broadcast on CNN or I don?t know on what other foreign TV channel and everybody could easily see that we didn?t do anything? now that I think of it I pray to God to keep those people safe and sound because it may be because of their tape that we got out of it unharmed.
This is why I say that I would definitely not take part in any of the miner riots again! Because of these riots an entire country and the whole working class was put to stick both inside the country and worldwide. And I don?t think that the journalists had this interest. They just did their job.
Now, while looking back, I realize we only had been a bunch of idiots for having gone there and they also took us for fools. In 1998, during the whole year, I had been almost monthly asked to go to Bucharest for the trial. And it was only last year (2001) that they exonerated me. And when they did that, they said: ?You are exonerated but you are still at our disposition.? And then I got mad and I told them: ?Why is that? If I am guilty, take me in now, if not, the only way I can come here again will be with handcuffs.? And then the prosecutor started to laugh and said: ?You are free to go!?
(V.C- former miner foreman)