Sunday, 21 October, 2018

Romania protests: Thousands rally against government for second night

Romanians take part in a demonstration in front of the government headquarters in Bucharest on Friday Romania: Violent protest leaves 440 needing medical treatment
Deanna Wagner | 13 August, 2018, 03:02

The violence began when some in the crowd tried to break into the government building - but were held back by the police security cordon. Some individuals lobbed rocks, bottles and smoke bombs at riot police.

Tens of thousands of people staged peaceful protests in other Romanian cities.

The Guardian: Hundreds injured in Romania protests as emigrants return to fight corruption - "As the protest continued well into the night, riot police used a water cannon and increasingly sprayed tear gas into the crowd".

Social media footage shows the protesters assembled on a large street scrambling as the police begin giving chase and shooting tear gas to control the crowd.

Over 400 people received medical care at the square that night and two gendarmes were attacked, it said.

"The interior ministry must explain urgently the way it handled tonight's events", the centrist leader wrote in a statement posted to Facebook.

He said officers were ordered by the Bucharest prefecture - government authorities in charge of the capital- to evacuate Victory Square late Friday after an hours-long protest in front of the government offices that drew tens of thousands of expatriate Romanians and local residents demanding the government's resignation. Messages projected on buildings around the square said "We are the people" and "No violence".

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The New York Times: Violence Erupts as Tens of Thousands Protest Corruption in Romania - "An estimated 3 to 5 million Romanians are working and living overseas, the World Bank has said, up to a quarter of the European Union state's population, ranging from day laborers to doctors".

Among the protesters was truck driver Daniel Ostafi, 42, who moved to Italy 15 years ago in search of a future he says Romania could not offer his family. "I'm here to try and change something", he said.

After winning power in 2016, the Social Democrats (PSD) attempted to decriminalize several corruption offenses through an emergency decree, leading to thousands of Romanians taking to the streets in protest and forcing the party to back down.

This year it pushed changes to the criminal code through parliament that have raised concerns from the European commission and U.S. state department.

Around 30 police were also injured, 11 of whom were taken to hospital. The changes are being challenged in the Constitutional Court.

Some politicians from the ruling coalition derided the rally, saying they did not understand why the diaspora would protest.

People shine the lights of their mobile phones during a protest outside the government headquarters in Bucharest. Romanians gathered for a second day of protest Saturday, a day after an anti-government protest turned violent leaving 455 people, including three dozen riot police, needing medical treatment.