The Gendarmeriad - Before and after the 10th of August: 12 dark days

DE Ramona Ursu | Actualizat: 07.09.2018 - 16:46
Foto AFP/Daniel Mihăilescu

Newsweek Romania is offering a complete chronology of the events and the declarations which transpired before and after Friday the 10th of August, the day when the Gendarmerie repressed the protesters in The Victory Square (Piața Victoriei).

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8th of August

DIICOT prosecutors have announced the opening of a criminal dossier for Ovidiu Grosu, who has called himself ‘the true organiser of the diaspora's protest on the 10th of August’. Grosu, placed under judicial control, has been on the radar of lawmen after, during a segment on Antena 3 (TV channel appropriated by the political power of PSD-ALDE) he has instigated the audience who intended to participate in the protest to commit violent acts against the law enforcers present. 

9th of August

Marius Militaru, spokesperson of the Romanian Gendarmerie, has declared, in a press conference: ‘I have seen and I have read death threats, blood spill addressed to the gendarmes who were going to ensure the proper unfolding of the protest. The authorities will not tolerate such attitudes and will not remain impassive in the face of these kinds of manifestations which are outside of legal boundaries. We will not tolerate any kind of civic disobedience, of violent actions.’

10th of August - the day of the Diaspora’s protest

  • The first protesters reached Victory Square during the night, being Romanians coming from abroad. Around 13.00 there were about 200 people in front of the Government building. 

  • 16.30: About 1.500 people gathered in Victory Square, blocking the Kiseleff Boulevard. The first clashes between protesters and gendarmes are recorded, and the police forces use tear gas. The situation unwinds after a few minutes. Regardless, a few protesters receive medical care in the Square from SMURD teams. 

  • 17.00: The traffic in Victory Square is blocked, and in the square tear gas is used again. Georgian Enache, a spokesperson of the Romanian Gendarmerie, announces on the TV channel Digi24 that the protesters have hauled the fences installed in front of the Government building. 

  • 17.58: The Romanian Gendarmerie, on its official Facebook Page, announces that violence is being registered in the Victory Square: ’We ask you to distance yourselves from the groups that are causing violence! A group of people can completely denature the purpose of a protest initially announced on social media sites as being a peaceful one.’

  • 18.00: The tensions between gendarmes and protesters has diminished. Up until this time, 34 protesters and 2 gendarmes have required medical assistance. Thousands of people are already in front of the Government building. 

  • 18.30: The protesters are hauling the fence in front of the Government Building, the gendarmes intervene again with tear gas. More protesters are intoxicated with gas and are carried by other participants to the ambulances. 

  • 19.30: Tens of thousands of people are participating in the protest in the Capital. 

  • 19.39: The Romanian Gendarmerie, via a message posted on their official Facebook page, calls on the protesters to retreat from the first rows, in front of the Government building: ‘The ones who are committing violence acts are throwing with blunt objects, bottles and pieces of asphalt. The aggressors are thus using them as a protection shield so as to continue their violent acts. 

  • 20.00: Metrorex announces that, via the decision of the General Directorate of Operational Management under the Minister for Internal Affairs (MAI) to maintain public order, it has been decided that, starting from 20.00, the subway station in Victory Square will be closed. However, the subway circulation would resume normally at 21.00.

  • 20.30: A few protesters are bombarding the gendarmes with various objects. The gendarmes continue to use tear gas. Violent groups are not extracted from the Square by law enforcers. 

  • 20.37: The Romanian Gendarmerie announces on their official facebook page that members of some football supporters’ associations have appeared in the Victory Square: ‘Individuals known to be part of violent groups and supporters’ associations of football clubs have appeared in the Victory Square. We ask well-intentioned protesters to distance themselves from these groups and to not support their violent actions!’.

  • 21:30: Over 100.000 protesters are in the Victory Square. Starting from 20.00, gendarmes have used tear gas in 15-20 minutes intervals, the Square being ‘choked’. Thousands of protesters are floored because of the gas. Over 140 people are injured until 21.00. 

  • 22.00: The Gendarmerie announces that it will intervene utilizing force in Victory Square in order to establish public order, claiming that ‘legal summons have been made, the three warning light signals have been performed.’ 

  • 22.45: Almost 250 people have needed medical assistance. 

  • After 23.00: Shield bearers strongly clash with protesters, tear gas continues to be used in addition to a water cannon, demonstrators being assaulted by gendarmes. The protesters are generally peaceful, law enforcers continue to allow the scant groups of violent individuals to remain in the Victory Square. 

  • 23.30: President Klaus Iohannis posts on Facebook the following message: ‘In an authentic democracy it is every man’s right to protest, but violence is not acceptable, regardless of political options. I am firmly condemning the sudden intervention of the Gendarmes, strongly disproportionate compared to the manifestations of the majority of people in the Victory Square. The attempt to defeat the people’s will through a violent reaction of law enforcers is a condemnable solution. The Minister for Internal Affairs urgently needs to justify the way they handled the events of this evening!’

  • 00.00: Thousands of people continue to protest peacefully in the Victory Square, however they have spread toward the Iancu de Hunedoara zone. The gendarmes are continuing to use force. 

  • 1.00: The Gendarmerie announces that the weapons of the two gendarmes hit by some participants at the protest were stolen. This is about two firearms which which had been allegedly stolen, says the Gendarmerie. 

  • 1.17: Three Israeli tourists who were in a taxi were stopped in traffic by gendarmes, at the end of the Ion Mihalache Boulevard. The three were taken out of the car, face down, and were beaten by the law enforcers, even though they mentioned they were tourists. Subsequently, the lawmakers explained that they thought that the three were violent protesters who wanted to flee. 

  • The end of the night tally, after the Diaspora’s protest, was 452 people injured, who received medical assistance in the Victory Square. 70 people were hospitalized that night

    11th August 

Marius Militaru, spokesperson for the Romanian Gendarmerie, and Grigorian Enache, spokesperson of the Bucharest Gendarmerie, have held a press conference. Their main declarations:

  • ‘All the action from last night has been supervised by a military prosecutor, which could have signaled a violation of the law committed by law enforcers. Our intentions have been clear from the beginning, we wanted things to stay civilized.’ (Georgian Enache) 

  • ‘Because there was no relinquishing of the violent acts, the prefect signed the gendarmes’ order to intervene with force at 23.11. From then onwards and until 2.00 gradual and varied measures have been taken so as to evacuate the perimeter, and so well-intentioned people could retreat to safety, especially since there were a lot of women, a lot of children. In all this time, the gendarmes were being hit with stones and other blunt objects and subsequently an intervention utilizing force had been decided upon. During the intervention, the suspicion that the group of violent individuals was a compact, well organized one with a clear objective, that of installing chaos and vandalizing the Victory Square zone, was confirmed. In approximately 30 minutes, the gendarmes succeeded in dispersing the violent group, violent people being detained. We are talking about 33 people who were taken to the police precinct, eight criminal investigations being opened until now. (...) The extraction (of violent people -A/N) is a procedure which oftentimes is difficult because tactically, these violent groups were dispersed throughout the crowd, they were not necessarily compact, and extraction implies certain risks.
    An intervention was needed, a breach was created in the middle of the Victory Square when the representatives of the Special Brigade, following the 112 calls and the briefings though the station, went to save their colleagues who were floored and brutally beaten. Before this moment a 112 call was made by the representatives of a fast food store nearby in which they reported that their storefronts were being vandalised, that there have been unauthorised entrances into their store.
    That was the moment when we decided to send over a squad. Our colleagues from the police joined us for a quicker intervention. A diversion was created in which our colleague was caught too (the female gendarme who was hospitalized - A/N).’

  • Marius Militaru has also declared that ‘beyond the difficult interventions we have had last evening, by far the most difficult one was explaining to the parents of our colleague that their daughter may remain paralyzed for life’. In the same day, though, the Minister of Health, Sorin Pintea, while on a visit to the hospital where the wounded gendarme was taken, mentioned that the woman had ‘a hematoma’, nothing like an extreme diagnosis. 

On the 12th of August, a video surfaced in the mass-media in which, after the scuffle she was caught in in the Victory Square, the female gendarme was perfectly conscious, was walking on her own feet and was telling her colleagues: ‘ Brothers, where the hell did you bring me?’. The declaration of the Ministry of Health, Sorin Pintea, after the visit at the Floreasca Hospital: ‘The female gendarme is good, she got up, she has communicated. I have spoken to the two gendarmes, among which a young lady of 23, who is good. She was bandaged, she had a burn, she has a hematoma. She does not have a fractures spine, she is not Intensive Care, she is in the Surgery section. I have seen the images, they are good, I was expecting something else completely.’

  • The Prosecutor of the Court of Appeal of Bucharest announces that, following the events of the 10th of August, there are investigations being carried out for a criminal dossier that concerns the crimes of assault (aggression towards two workers of the Gendarmerie), failure to comply with the rules concerning weapons and ammunitions (stealing weapons) and creating public disturbance. initially, the Gendarmerie announced that two arms went missing but the information was subsequently infirmed.

  • In a press declaration given on Saturday the 11th of August , the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Carmen Dan, said that ‘any normal person who followed the events of last night could see that the intervention utilizing force was justified by the provocations and the violence of those hooligans.’. In the days that followed, Carmen Dan contradicted herself, admitting that there were situations when the gendarmes were violent towards peaceful protesters.

    13th August

  • The Romania 100 Platform, 17 NGOs and a few civic organizations have filed denunciations at the Prosecutors’ Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice against the Minister for Internal Affairs Carmen Dan, the chief of the Gendarmerie Sebastian Cucoş and the prefect of the Capital, Speranţa Clişeru, after the interventions of the law enforcing agencies at the protest of the Diaspora. The crimes of which the three officials were accused were: malfeasance in office and abusive conduct. 

  • Ionel Corbu, Prime-prosecutor of the Military Appeals Tribunal Bucharest has announced that, initially, the criminal investigation in rem in the ‘Diaspora’ dossier has started for the infractions of malfeasance in office and abusive conduct, but that it will be extended to negligence, following the revelation that two gendarmes have been left uninsulated by their colleagues in the Victory Square (the situation when the female gendarme and her colleague were abused by a few participants at the protest- A/N). 

Tuesday, 14th of August 

  • The Ministry for Internal Affairs, Carmen Dan, declared that she can reproach herself for nothing with regards to the violence from the Victory Square and that the Gendarmerie has coordinated their whole intervention under the supervision of a military prosecutor. 

  • The Bucharest Gendarmerie has presented a report of self-notification, signed by the military prosecutor Bogdan Pîrlog (the Military Appeals Tribunal Bucharest) who took part in the Diaspora’s protest. According to the Bucharest Gendarmerie, prosecutor Pîrlog had stayed in Victory Square starting from 17.00 until 4.00 in the morning. 

  • The remarks of the Gendarmerie referring to prosecutor Pîrlog have come after the Prime-prosecutor of the Military Appeals Tribunal Bucharest, Ionel Corbu, contradicts Minister Carmen Dan and specifies that no military prosecutor took part in the Mobile Command Center: ‘I can assure you that it was not the case. From the Military Appeals Tribunal Bucharest there was no prosecutor who took part in the Mobile Command Center’. 

  • The Ministry for Internal Affairs Carmen Dan has appointed a new interim chief of the Romanian Gendarmerie, Ionuț Sindile, after the interim of Sebastian Cucoș, who occupied the position, expired on the 14th of August. On the 16th of August, the TV channel B1 TV broadcasted images from a protest where Ionuț Sindile appears to be leading the actions utilizing force of the Gendarmerie in the Victory Square. 

  • The General Prosecutor Augustin Lazăr as arranged the requisition of the ‘Diaspora’ dossier by the Prosecutors' Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice - The Military Appeals Court Section from the Military Appeals Tribunal Bucharest.

  • The assaulted gendarme, about which the spokesperson of the Romanian Gendarmerie Marius Militaru said she was ‘beaten with bestiality’ by protesters and about which Antena 3 said, in the evening of the protest, she was killed, was discharged Tuesday, 14th of August. 

Wednesday, 15th of August 

Ionel Corbu, Prime-prosecutor of the Military Appeals Tribunal, infirms the declarations of the spokesperson of the Bucharest Gendarmerie regarding the presence of the military prosecutor Bogdan Pîrlog in the Mobile Command Center, in which the interventions of the law enforcing bodies in the Victory Square were decided: ‘Our colleague (prosecutor Pîrlog- A/N) was in the are, on the way to his residence. He was on call, being in a permanent medical center and seeing what was happening there, he self-notified, the report being registered on the 11th of August.’ 

Cătălin Paraschiv, the chief of the Special Brigade of the Gendarmerie, who coordinated the actions of the gendarmes at the Diaspora’s protest, declares: ‘Two informations have been received: one transmitted by the investigation structures in the Square that clearly transmitted that the gendarmes were under attack, that they have been floored, that they’re being stepped on, two people are killed. That’s how the information was like, probably they were referring to…, after that I saw the images on TV with that girl and that boy (...). Simultaneously, it was communicated to us from the dispatch that TV channels are broadcasting images with two gendarmes laid on the ground whose heads were being stepped on. In that instant, the commander of the action took the decision that the Special Brigade should take action on the direction Springtim.  (...) The Special Brigade and not used anything until 23.00. Then the order was given that the the Special Brigade should try to intervene assisting the gendarme squads and evacuate them from there. 

Thursday, 16th of August 

Major Laurențiu Cazan, the coordinator of the action of the gendarmes in the Victory Square has declared for TVR that the Prefect of the Capital Speranța Cliseru was present at the scene from 16.00 onwards, and the order to intervene given to the law enforcing agencies and to clear the Square was signed around 20.00. Major Cazan has further said that ‘in the Ion Mihalache zone, while our colleagues were actioning, we have discovered a vehicle filled with flaming bottles. I have seen them stocking up on the bottles from the car in order to take cation. (...) Approximately 1.000 gendarmes participated in the action. We did not use all the grenades (tear gas- N/A) we had.’ 

The information concerning the existence of a car with flamining bottles has not been confirmed by investigating authorities, and the Major Laurențiu Cazan has not explained why, after he has seen this car and the people who were ‘stocking up’ on flaming bottles, he did not intervene, being the coordinator of the law enforcing bodies at this protest. Something to note is that, until the 16th of August, even though five days had passed since the protest, the Romanian Gendarmerie had not specified who had coordinated the actions of the law enforcing agencies at the protest on the 10th of August. 

17th August 

The European Commission confirms an information which had been made public on Facebook by the journalist Ovidiu Vanghele and popularized by the mass-media, according to which the Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă has sent a letter, after the protest on the 10th of August, addressed to the president of the EC, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the vice-president of the EC, Frans Timmermans. 

Prime Minister Dăncilă has communicated to the two official brom Brussels that the protest was politically ‘maneuvered’ and that a coup had been attempted by the political adversaries of PSD, making a direct reference to the President Klaus Iohannis: ‘The manifestation on the 10th of August has become a subject of intense political dispute, the majority of party leaders have appealed to calm and to the isolation of the forces which disturb the public order. Yet, voices of political leaders who called for the continuation of the protests have been made known, bringing accusations towards the state, law enforcing agencies (reference to President Iohannis- A/N), and those who in all member states have the role to protect citizens from agressions and acts of violence respectively. I consider that these attempts at removal through violent means of a legitimate government can set a dangerous precedent among democratic states.’


On the other hand, also on the 17th of August, the journalists from Passport Productions presented multiple images of gendarmes whose identification numbers on their helmets were covered by duct tape during the protests in Victory Square. The images were observed on the 10th of August around 16.30, when there were only a few hundred participants at the protest and a few jets of tear gas were administered. The mass-media reported that the hiding of the numbers on the helmets of the gendarmes, which are used for identification, shows the fact that the violent action of the law enforcers was a premeditated one. 

19th of August - The Ministry of Internal Affairs, Carmen Dan, has made a press declaration referring to the protest on the 10th of August. The main declarations: 

  • There have been 21 dossiers opened, out of which three have an unknown perpetrator. In these dossiers 20 people are being investigated, three individuals have been arrested and two have been placed under judicial control. 64 contraventional fines have been administered. 

  • The Gendarmerie has identified hundreds of people who have committed violence. These people have been seen in recorded footage and now are going through an identification process. 

  • With regards to the actions of gendarmes involved in the mission on the 10th of August, an internal verification has commenced. Up until now five situations susceptible to being abuses against people who had not committed violent acts have been identified. 

  • Even if initially it was desired that the public gathering on the 10th of August be a legal one, none of the numerous organizations and civic platforms who initiated, supported and promoted the protest took responsibility for this event.

  • The report concerning the events of the 10th of August 2018 has 90 pages and is classified as secret. 


The chronology of law enforcing agencies’ interventions in the Victory Square, presented by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Carmen Dan: 

  • 13.55: The operationalization of the command point in the Victory Square. At this moment there were two small groups of protesters – one in the University Square and one in the Victory Square. The report mentions that at the moment of institution, the device was a defensive one, the gendarmes wearing the short sleeved work uniform, without helmets on their heads and protection gear. Thus there was no intention of intimidation or provocation on part of the Gendarmerie

  • 16.00: The Prefect of the Capital and one of the Vice-mayors of Bucharest presented themselves in the command point. 

  • 16.22: The first violent manifestations are appearing. The hauling of the cordon of gendarmes takes place and there are attempts to enter the yard of the Government of Romania. Stone and plastic bottles are being thrown at the gendarme squad. 

  • 16.53: The first wounded gendarme is transported to the hospital. 

  • 18.00: The commander of the action calls for a short meeting of the chiefs of the squads to analyse the situation. According to the report, a military prosecuted also attended the meeting. 

  • 18.48: The appearance of the first people know to be part of football club supporters’ associations in the Square. Their arrival in the area the protest was happening in was not carried out in an organized group, which prevented the Gendarmerie to block their access to the Square. The fashion in which violence was exercised on the gendarmes was new. Thus, the aggressions were manifested individually or in organized groups, along the entire squad, with raised mobility, both in contact zones and within the crowd of participants from rows 2 and 3 and further. 

  • 20.00: The commander of the action present the situation to the prefect, informing them with regards to the necessity of an intervention to reestablish public order. In this context the Prefect expresses their accord with regards to such an action. 

  • 21.30: A group of violent people crystalizes in the Iancu de Hunedoara Boulevard area, known to be part of football clubs’ supporters’ associations. The formation of a squad to isolate the supporters that were manifesting themselves in a violent way was ordered, however, because of the people who did not distance themselves from the aggressive individuals, the action did not succeed.

  • In the time interval between 21.00 and 22.00 warnings and summations have been made though sound amplifying means. At 22.02 the last summation was made, sufficient time being granted for the protesters to leave the Square. 

  • 22.53: The 112 dispatch signals that in the neighbourhood of a fast food restaurant on Buzești Avenue a group of people are manifesting themselves violently. The Bucharest Gendarmerie requests the intervention of the Police, as they didn’t have the possibility to reach the area at that time. Firstly, two squads of the Service for Special Action of the Bucharest Police Force were sent to the area. Subsequently, short time afterwards, they were aided by two other squads. 

  • Around 23.01, the squads which had arrived report that there were not acts of vandalism or violence in the area, which is why they are ordered to retreat. Meanwhile, squads are blocked in the crowd of people which surround the cars so the aid of the Gendarmerie is requested. Other three Police squads which are directed to the same area are blocked around the area of the Victory Passage. At the request of the Police Force, two squads are ordered to go from the Victory Palace to the Police squads blocked next to the fast-food. This is the moment when the two gendarmes – a man and a woman – are isolated from the rest of the squad and are attacked, the gune of one of them being stolen. 

  • 23.11: The commander of the action orders the intervention to reestablish public order. During the reestablishment of the public order there have existed violent interactions between the law enforcers and aggressors, situations when people who have not committed violent acts but had not already left the Square had to suffer. 

  • 01.15: Public order had been reestablished.

  • Regarding the use of tear gas, types OC and CS were used. 

  • Following the incidents of the 10th of August, 452 people, out of which 33 gendarmes, have needed medical assistance at the scene. From the total count, 70 people were transporter to the hospital, 14 being gendarmes, and 9 were admitted for at least 24 hours. Out of the 9 hospitalized individuals, 3 were gendarmes. 

    Monday, 20th of August 

Ilie Gâzea (62 years old) a man from the county of Teleorman who participated at the Diaspora’s protest died in the night of the 19th to the 20th of August, at the Alexandria County Hospital. The old man suffered from various conditions and was exposed to tear gas in Victory Square, feeling unwell during the protest. The Department for Emergency Situations has announced that ‘on night of the 10th of August the patient came to a SMURD ambulance on the scene, complaining of bleeding of the nose. A few days afterwards, on the 15th of August, The Department for Emergency Situations was advising people who participated in the protest in Victory Square and who were exposed to tear gas to treat themselves at home ‘by abundantly washing the eyes and the face, without ‘travel of the population to the first aid units for performing routine checks’ being necessary. 

Also on the 20th of August, the Police Force of the Capital announced that the weapon stolen from the gendarme wounded at the meeting on the 10th of August had been found. The pistol had been retrieved from the Petrechioaia area in Ilfov County. On the 14th of August, four days after the protest, the one who stole the pistol from the gendarme was detained by lawmen. The weapon was not found then, but on the 20th of August. 


21st of August 

  • Questioned in the Defence Commission of the Chamber of Deputies with regard to the intervention of the Gendarmerie in the Diaspora’s protest, the Minister for Internal Affairs, Carmen Dan, specified that ‘there have been six identified cases susceptible to be abuses against people which have not committed acts of violence’, referring to gendarmes. 

  • During the same questioning in the Parliament,Carmen Dan has declared that, on the 10th of August, she was in her office in the Ministry of Internal Affairs starting with 13.00 and until 3.00 in the morning, but that she had not spoken with the Prefect of the Capital, Speranța Clișeru, which had signed the evacuation orders of the Victory Square, and had not given any order to the law enforcers. Carmen Dan said that she sat in the Ministry, having come back from holiday, to ‘share her own experiences’ with her colleagues who had finalised the action in the street, but that ‘it was no operational meeting, but one meant to inform’. 

  • Major Laurențiu Cazan, coordinator of the law enforcing bodies in the Victory Square, questioned in his own turn in the Defence Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, declared, referring to the duct tape covered indicatives on the helmets of some gendarmes: ’At the level of our institution there were effective which were supporting one side, on the other hand in our own institution there have been reorganizations as well. The situations are known, they have been discussed. That indicative did not correspond anymore, (...) but I can assure you that there is no impediment in identifying the gendarmes who acted in that manner. 

  • On the 21st of August, the Prosecutors’ Office attached to the High Court of Cassation announced that, until this date, in the ‘Diaspora’ dossier, 386 criminal charges have been registered from protesters or different organizations, having to do with the violent acts of the law enforcers. 

______________________

This article was translated into English by Iuliana Nyerges

Versiunea în limba română poate fi citită aici


Read the entire feature about The Gendarmeriead

The chronicle of an announced opression. Who are the victims?

The lies told by the Gendarmerie

Excerpts from dialogues of the people involved in altercations with the Romanian Gendarmerie

In brief, the story of a manipulation

Carmen Dan coordinated the intervention. The chain of command

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