ROMANIA 1989: WHEN FACTS BECAME MY FIRST CONFIRMED CASUALTY

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This morning 30 years ago I went with these three women to the cementary in Cluj. I was told that their sons had been buried a few days before after being killed in the City’s last showdown with Dictator Ceaucescu’s Securitate forces.

Their grief might have been the only thing I got right in my reports from the uprising against the dictator. Most embarrassing was how I and scores of other reporters covered the ‘massacre’ in Timisoara without any critical questions.


Later the reported massacre proved to be a fake
propaganda stunt. Bodies, some several weeks old, had been collected from morgues and hospitals and arranged in a mass grave to appear like victims of a summary execution a few days before.


You dont need to have a medical background to know the difference between new and old bodies, unless people are telling you a story that you want to hear. And so we reported this pile of humain remains as evidence of Ceaucescu’s cruel persecution of the pro-democracy activists from The National Salvation Front.

Nicolae and Elena Ceaucescu is being led away for their execution.


The ‘Timisoara massacre’ was subsequently used as part of the justification for the execution of Ceaucescu and his wife 25 December after a few hours of trial in a military court with questionable credentials.

Former president Ion Illescu is now on trial for crimes against humanity for his role in killings after the downfall of Ceaucescu.


Still today, many questions remain about what really happened in Romania. Some may soon be answered, now that Ceauceascu’s main adversary and successor as president Ion Iliescu has finally been put on trial for crimes against humanity, allegedly committed in the aftermath of Ceaucescu’s downfall.

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