Romanian Students Protest for Freedom of Expression
We would like to tell you about a grave act that has occurred in one of the largest Universities of Romania.
During the recent audit carried out by the National Quality Assurance Agency of Romania – ARACIS at the Polytechnic University of Bucharest, the Evaluation committee organised a meeting with University students, in order to receive their input on the study conditions at the University.
The following day, three of the students that had participated (members of the Students Organization of the Electro-technical Faculty in the University) were summoned to a meeting with the University rector, Mrs. Ecaterina Andronescu, on Thursday, the 14th of June.
During this meeting, they were accused of tarnishing the University’s image and asked to offer explanations for what the University rector taxed as a “hostile attitude”. The vice-dean of the faculty was present at the meeting and enquired where the students came from, adding even more pressure on them and threatening the students in order to force them to censor their opinions.
These acts of intimidation are even more outrageous given Mrs. Andronescu’s status as a prominent member of one of Romania’s major political parties, as Deputy in Parliament and as President of the National Rector’s Council.
We consider that it is unacceptable that students should be called to account for the opinions they express during University audits, if they are asked to give such an opinion by the auditors. Furthermore, we consider that this type of pressure is a dangerous precedent, which might lead to students being silenced on their opinions. This is especially outrageous as it comes 17 years after students gave their lives for freedom during the University Square Protests of 1990.
In sign of solidarity, OSUT – the student Organisation of the west University of Timisoara, as well as the student organizations of the Polytechinc University of Timisoara, organized a symbolic march, starting out from the same place the Romanian revolution against totalitarism started in1989 and marching on the route the revolutionaries took at the time. It is a symbolic march against tyrany and for freedom of expression. The students wore black tshirts, red “comunist pioneer” scarves (everybody was obliged to be a pioneer before the revolution) and their mouths were covered with tape.
Thanks for your support,
ANOSR – ESU member