December 23, 1989
Messages of support were coming in from world leaders to the apparent new government. General Stefan Gusa, speaking to a mass crowd declared that Securitate secret police had been disbanded and appealed to troops to remain loyal to the people. He said, “Securitate bodies in Romania no longer exist.” The people were chanting, “Freedom, Freedom” and singing a pre-Communist anthem, “Romanians Awake”. But the fighting got even more deadly than before. And it continued until December 27th.
Military units received confusing orders and fired at each other looking for “terrorists”, and at civilians. On this day, an airport battle resulted in the death of civilians on a bus and also soldiers riding a bus . The battle left 48 dead, including 40 soldiers and 15 wounded. Some 2000 Securitate assaulted the Communist Headquarters, and other buildings that revolutionaries now occupied. The old Royal Palace was on fire and the National Library burned to the ground.
The fighting would go on until December 27th. Romanians are still grappling with why it continued. Many blame Iliescu and his power grab. Nevertheless Iliescu was elected to the Presidency three times, but may face a trial next year for “crimes against humanity.” He is 89 years old and in poor health.
The new provisional government of Iliescu moved to consolidate its authority and issued the Securitate an ultimatum to surrender on the 23rd of December. It also promised to scrap food rationing, end village demolition programs, overturn the ban on abortion and to erase the compulsory registration of typewriters. People would no longer be required to address each other as “comrade” and weren’t restricted where they could live in the country. They called for free elections in April.
Liberals ousted Iliescu’s old party from power last month.
Romanians are still waiting for the truth about whether the Revolution was an inside coup or an uprising of the people. It seems to be both.
A lawyer named Ioan Stanomir, interviewed by Eurotopics.net, said this; “After 30 years, civic commitment is the alternative to lethargy and moral decay. With a sense of citizenship and daily courage, the people can rediscover their instinct for solidarity and dignity.”