Earlier today hundreds of Timisoara’s citizens gathered with candles and flags long ago ripped of its Communist emblem, to march in a “Freedom March” to the church where 30 years ago the Revolution began.
By December 16, 1989 support for Pastor Laszlo Tokes had grown and evolved into a general protest against the Ceausescu regime. The crowds had grown to 100,000; gathered in the city’s main square calling on Ceausescu to resign. Many Romanians had seen an interview on Hungarian TV where Tokes had recently spoken against Ceausescu’s policy of “systemization” in which villages were being bulldozed and those villagers were then relocated into cramped concrete apartment blocks where they could be “watched”. This centralization was immensely unpopular and flamed the resistance movement.
Yet December 16th was relatively calm. The eviction order against Tokes had been issued and the army was being called in to restore order when the police failed to. Some protestors had attempted to set fire to the Communist Central Committee Building but the crowds had not yet tried to break in. It was a waiting game.
The majority of the world still believed Ceausescu would hold onto the reins of power. However the U.S. State Department said at the time, “It looks like Romania’s time may have finally come.” Dissenters within the party government were poised to make a play as well.
The next day would be hell in Timisoara.