The NATO summit in Bucharest took place between April 2-4. Activists from Romania and abroad organized “Anti-NATO Days” between March 28 and April 5, as a form of protest. What follows is a daily chronology of events, starting with the repression and abuse by border guards, police and the mass-media, to the actions of solidarity by human rights organizations and foreign activists.
* MARCH 20, Romania closes its borders to anti-NATO activists:
In parallel with the organization of the NATO summit in Bucharest, the Romanian mass-media began its campaign of disinformation and manipulation of public opinion against the anti-militarist movement. Using only violent images from previous protests, false information and unfounded hypotheses about the danger represented by “anarchists,” the mass-media transformed the opposition against war and militarism into the image of a monster that was preparing to attack Bucharest. This disinformation campaign furnished the necessary excuse for the repression organized by the state. This repression was presented in the mass-media as a “routine” security measure.
On March 20, 6 persons experienced the repression of the border police for 19 hours after they tried to enter Romania. The 6 German citizens were coming to Romania to express their disagreement with NATO policies. They were brining along antiNATO materials made up of public information – a tourist guide, a legal guide, documentary films, posters about human rights, t-shirts. After they were held for 19 hours without any legal reason, they were deported illegally, against their wishes. During these 19 hours, the Germans organized a peaceful protest, putting up banners against state repression and human rights abuse.
* MARCH 21, Personal impressions from the border:
We arrived on March the 20th at about 8 o'clock in the evening at the Romanian border in Calafat. The border police ordered us to park our two cars beside and started to search them completely for four hours, looking after drugs, weapons and explosives as they said. We had none of that with us but they took all our info material, including books, pamphlets, posters and even patches, buttons and t-shirts away to copy, photograph and document them. Furthermore they took away our laptops for about ten hours, one of them got obviously opened, some screws were missing. Two women got body searched for injection marks. It was obvious that they were
looking for a reason to send us back.
At three o'clock in the morning they started to interrogate us one by one. The interrogations where made by two guys (one probably from the secret service (SRI) … They where lying about certain laws … we might have broken, to have a reason for the start of the interrogation … Our refusals to answer questions, making return questions and asking for legal support, wasn't really expected by them … At 10 o'clock in the morning, after 14 hours, we were fed up with the situation and started to set them under pressure. Determinedly we asked for food, water and information for the reason of our detainment. Meanwhile some of us made banners and hung them on the van and the border checkpoint. The policemen were really surprised and were not
sure how to react. Just before the next ferry arrived they … tried to make us put down the banners by announcing that we can leave within one hour … They said that there where no problems with all our stuff, that they make no charges against us and that they only want to follow the correct procedure, and afterwards we would be free to move on with our planned journey into Romania.
Three hours later we were still waiting at the border, but started to call for lawyers and journalists. Some of them seemed to be pretty interested, like antena1, a private Romanian TV
station. They even asked for telephone interviews and wanted to come to the border … As it was clear for the police that the press is on the way they stopped reading the list to us (they counted and described every single button) just before it was finished and gave us all our material back … We requested, if there where no charges against us, that we want to exercise our right of free movement inside the EU. If denied, we would not move and stay at the checkpoint as long as it takes. Totally confused they ran off to call for instructions from Bucharest again. The order came immediately 'get them out before the journalists arrive'. We were refused entry, without any charges, and they where allowed by official side from Bucharest (in this special case) to deport us by force against our will, if we don't go on the ferry to Bulgaria.
Pictures and video from the border:
* MARCH 24, Human rights organizations condemn abuses at the border:
The Media Monitoring Agency and the Helsinki Committee in Romania sent a public letter to the border police and to mass-media channels in which they condemned “the detainment on March 20 of 6 German citizens at the Romanian-Bulgarian border at Calafat. We consider that the Romanian state is gravely violating several fundamental human rights of European citizens – the right to liberty, the right to freedom of movement and the right to free expression. We demand that the border police immediately make public the legal grounds for detaining these people and the refusal to permit them to enter Romania. We will immediately make known this serious infringement to all our partners and international human rights organizations. (source: http://romania.indymedia.org/ro/2008/03/2493.shtml)
On March 27, in a press communiqué, the Center for Legal Resources, expressed their agreement with the position of MMA and Helsinki Committee, condemning the repression at the border. (source: http://romania.indymedia.org/ro/2008/03/2508.shtml)
* 24-28 MARCH, Abuse at other border checkpoints:
Two of the persons detained at the Calafat checkpoint on March 20 decided to return to Germany and boarded a tourist bus from Bulgaria to Germany. On March 24, at the Bulgarian-Serbian border the two were asked to get off the bus and sent back to Bulgaria. How can any state refuse a person’s right to return to their home?
Some of the activists detained at the Calafat checkpoint on March 20 tried to cross the Romanian border again on March 26, at a different checkpoint, Giurgiu, and were again detained and sent back to Bulgaria.
On March 28, a hardcore group from Texas, Die Young, were not permitted to enter Romania at the Cenad checkpoint. They had no intention of remaining in Romania during the period of the Summit, having come for a concert in Bucharest on March 29, and then continuing their tour through Eastern Europe. The reasons for the refusal of entry were not made known to them.
* 28-29 MARCH, Attempt to stop a concert in Tirgu Mures:
On March 26, in the Mures daily newspaper “Free Word,” (controlled by PRM, the extreme right party, and believed to be an arm of the secret service), there appeared on the front page an article with the title “Young and restless anarchists prepare offence for the NATO summit,” targeting our group in Tirgu Mures. After this article, the coincidences started. On March 28, Mr. Chelariu, who a week before had rented us a space for a concert on March 29, showed up on our doorstep and said it’s not possible to have the space for the concert, but we could have it two weeks later. After searching around at the last minute, we finally found a pub willing to host the concert. The next day, the owners of the pub were visited by the police and another man in civilian clothing who asked insistently about the concert. The pub was surrounded by the police and undercover agents, one filmed from a car, and others filmed from across the street. After the concert we were all followed, and the next day the musical groups had a police “escort.” (source: http://romania.indymedia.org/ro/2008/04/2518.shtml)
* 29-31 MARCH, AntiNATO activists detained on the streets by police without legal grounds:
On March 29 at 7 in the morning, 4 antiNATO activists in Bucharest were seized on the street by the police and brought to headquarters 14 for verification. The 4 refused to be photographed and have their fingerprints taken, and were allowed to leave only after they started making phone calls to the press.
On March 31 around midnight, 3 antiNATO activists were stopped by the police when returning to the convergence center from an all night supermarket. After being detained for 2 hours on the street, they were brought to headquarters 14 for verification. No legal motives for being detained were made known to them. (source: http://romania.indymedia.org/ro/2008/04/2515.shtml)
APRIL 2, Black Wednesday:
> AntiNATO activists beaten and detained by police:
Under the pretext that inflammable substances were being brought into the hall (convergence center) in Timpuri Noi rented by the activists for antiNATO days (for workshops and film projections), the owner tried to forbid the activists access to the building and called the police. Wearing sky masked and heavily armed, special police forces entered the hall and forcefully picked up everyone inside (about 50 people) and took them to the police station. According to testimonies by activists, many people were beaten by the police. One was assaulted severely enough to require medical attention, but the police kept him at the police station, releasing him only 5 minutes before the press arrived, so there would be no suspicions since the press had already found out someone badly wounded was being detained. A girl was taken to the hospital with a broken leg, and another told that the police kicked her in the head (so there would be no visible bruises). Around 60 people gathered at police headquarters 11 for a spontaneous protest against the police brutality and illegal detention of the activists. (sources: http://romania.indymedia.org/ro/2008/04/2521.shtml, http://romania.indymedia.org/ro/2008/04/2528.shtml)
> Program Coordinator of Media Monitoring agency, Razvan Martin, detained by police:
Razvan Martin, Program Coordinator at MMA, was detained by police and brought to headquarters 10, after he asked some police officers on the street for directions to headquarters 11, where the “anarchists” were being detained. He planned to go there to offer assistance to them. “When I asked how to get there, they replied, we’ll take you there ourselves, after which they got in my car – one of them driving. They told me we are in fact going to headquarters 10 for questioning and that I was not permitted to get out. So I said, I understand I am also being detained along with the others,” Martin declared. Liana Ganea, Program Director of MMA went to headquarter 11 with a lawyer hired by MMA to represent those detained by the police. (source: http://romania.indymedia.org/ro/2008/04/2526.shtml)
> Solidarity with detainees from human rights organizations:
The Media Monitoring Agency, Helsinki Committee, and Center for Legal Resources issued a press communiqué condemning the “detention by the police of Romanian and foreign citizens in Timpuri Noi. We ask the police to immediately make public:
- the legal grounds for the forceful entry of special police troops into a private space in order to detain these people
- based on what accusations are they deprived of liberty
- whether these accusations have been made known to them and if they had translators and legal assistance present
- whether to be an antiNATO activist is a criminal offence in Romania, and if so, what is the legal decree that this is based on
- what is the legal basis for forbidding peaceful demonstrations against NATO
We stress that these actions which have no legal grounds are abusive, and prejudice Romania’s image, which claims to be a democratic state of law. These are illegal arrests and abusive investigations. If there is no legal basis for detaining these people and for forbidding demonstrations against NATO, we demand that the police and the Romanian government take appropriate measures to preserve democratic values and the state of law, immediately releasing everyone and permitting them to carry out the legal activities which they have planned.”
> Anti NATO websites attacked and temporarily suspended:
The websites contra-doxa.com and summitnato.ro – both administered by antiNATO activists – were suspended, with the message:
This Account Has Been Suspended
Please contact the billing/support department as soon as possible.
Subsequent informations revealed that summitnato.ro was attacked from an IP belonging to the following server.
SC Speed Telecom SRL
Calarasi, str 1 decembrie 1918,
spatiul 59 TOMIS parter
* APRIL 3, Lawsuit brought against the Romanian Police
Fragment from a communiqué: “On April 2, 2008 from 14:00 to 23:00, the Association for the Freedom of Thought was, through Emil Moise, in permanent telephone contact with the young people who were brutalized by the police. The Association started the necessary steps for protecting the rights of those who were detained, beaten, and whose rights to liberty, to freedom of thought, freedom of association, and freedom of peaceful meeting were violated. We have demanded that the police immediately stop its abuse and released those people held illegally. This morning our Association advanced a legal brief at the High Court of Romania suing the Police department and its functionaries for abuse and violation of laws.
From everything that has happened in the past weeks, our Association considers that the security measures proposed by the NATO summit in Bucharest have transgressed any permissible boundaries in a democratic country and have degenerated to those of a totalitarian state. The violent and repressive intervention by the police yesterday is evidence of this institutions failure to separate itself from Romania’s totalitarian past. And the attempt by the Mayor’s office to forbid any protest, regardless of the theme, starting from March 24, has no legal basis, is arbitrary, abusive and against the democratic foundations of the Romanian state.”
* APRIL 3-5, Protests and solidarity actions in other countries:
April 3: protests at the Romanian Embassy in Warsaw
April 3: solidarity songs and discussions at punk concert in Bulgaria
April 4: protests at the Romanian Embassy in Vienna
April 5: demonstrations in Helvetiaplatz, Bern
April 5: protests at the Romanian Embassy in Berlin
April 5: protests and burning of NATO flag at Romanian Embassy in Prague
April 5: anti-NATO protests in front of government building in Skopje
April 5: protests in Kopenhagen
(compiled and translated by Joanne on april 8)