World

Romanians rise up

Courtesy of DENOEL PARIS An estimated of 250,000 Romanians united to create what is considered the biggest anti-corruption protest since the fall of communism in eastern Europe in 1989.

Biggest demonstration since fall of communism in 1989

Thousands of Romanian citizens flooded the streets to protest the government’s decree to legalize bribery and fraud in early February.

According to USA Today, the decree allowed several politicians to avoid prosecution if the financial damage involved less than $48,000.

Josiah Coroama, sophomore Christian and ministry formation major lived in Romania for the first seven years of his life and spoke on his experiences in the country.

“There was still a lot of corruption. But, we were in a valley. We went from communism to a time of rebuilding,” Coroama said.

“Now the corruption is beginning to surface again.”

Coroama’s father lived in Romania until age 12, when he escaped to a refugee camp in Austria. His father then immigrated to America and didn’t return to Romania until communism fell.

Coroama’s father lived there for a number of years with his wife and kids and started a ministry building orphanages before moving back to the U.S.

Coroama still has many family members living in Romania and has concerns about the recent legalization of corruption.

“My father was born and raised in Romania and a lot of my family is still there,” Coroama said. “They are greatly affected by the corrupt government and it affects me seeing a burden on their hearts.”

On top of legalizing financial theft, the Romanian government made the law that no one can report a crime longer than six months after the crime has happened, according to Vice.

“This is not the right way to go if you’re trying to rebuild trust in your government. If it’s already proven to be untrustworthy, laws or policies like this will not help anything,” Daniel Bennett, assistant professor of political science at JBU, said.

Under the imposed laws it also implies that many prison sentences will be altered. This means that Politician’s charged with corruption and abusing public funds would essentially get off without damages.

Bennett also gave some insight into Romanian citizens and how the new laws are affecting them.

“Their policies aren’t necessarily in the public’s interests, so the people may feel even more alienated from their government or shut out of the process,” Bennett said. “They are trying to push back against this and take ownership while they can.”

On February 12, the protestors formed a massive Romanian flag out of light from their phones in order to show their discontent with the government.

The Romanian citizens’ voices were heard and Romanian Justice Minister Florin Lordache stepped down after massive protests, according to the Deutsche Welle, a public international broadcaster based in Germany. The corruption law was also appealed a couple days following Lordache resignation.

The resignation and law overturn is a big step in the right direction. Romania still faces a lot of corruption within the government. Many other policies would need to be reversed to truly free Romanian citizens.