Thursday, November 5, 2015

Corruption kills. Angered Romanians take to the streets

My thoughts on the recent tragedy in Romania

The recent tragic fire in a Bucharest night club that resulted in the death of 32 people, caused an unprecedented outpouring of anger and resentment that led to the resignation of Romania’s prime minister. What most upsets Romanians is the widespread corruption and the fact that public officials do not often take responsibility for their actions. People wonder that if for simple matters, like the licensing of a business venue, are so many irregularities, what will happen if a serious natural catastrophe occurs? For example, if Bucharest is hit again by an earthquake of similar magnitude to the one that occurred in the 70’s, will the authorities be in a position to deal with the situation? It is common knowledge among people on the street that the licensing system for new buildings has for many decades been very lax.

People see corruption as the main cause of this tragedy, hence the slogan “Corruption kills” that was chosen for the demonstrations. They may have been used to living among widespread corruption, but such big a tragedy brings more anger and fear since it directly threatens their lives. It is also difficult to explain why those responsible were not dismissed right away. According to Romanian press reports, 35000 people took to the streets to protest. Protests spread to other cities as well. For example, in Timisoara alone, 6000 people demonstrated against the corrupt practices of government officials. Romanians are thirsty for change. They want officials to fight corruption. The prime minister’s resignation did little to calm them as there are still many unanswered questions.  Are there any assurances that a cover up won’t take place? Is there a transparent investigation underway?
It is unclear how events will unfold in the coming days. There are many legitimate questions that are waiting for an answer. Will there be early elections? Will we witness the formation of an intermediary government until 2006? Who will be the new prime minister? Will there be a transparent and objective investigation? Will immunity of current politicians be lifted? Will the officials responsible for the issuing of licenses and the subsequent control of implementation of safety standards be punished?

I was touched to hear that protesters visited the site of this terrible tragedy and prayed the Lord's Prayer. I think we need to pray for Romania and I am sad that I am not with them in these dark moments. I always believe that God can change things if we pray in faith. Let us hope and pray that faithful leaders will stand up and that walls of corruption that engulf Romania’s public life will be torn down. We need to stand in prayer for Romania, for this beautiful country that I love and its people that have already suffered so much.

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