Romanian Gendarmerie answers to brutality accusations during August 10 protest
As the accusations of brutality against the Romanian Gendarmerie have been pouring in the media after the August 10 protest in Bucharest, the institution’s representatives issued the first official reactions. The institution also posted a video on its Facebook page showing that law enforcement troops in other countries operate similarly.
Major Laurentiu Cazan, who coordinated the riot police during the August 10 protest, said in an interview with public television TVR that he took responsibility for everything that happened that day in Victoriei Square and that he had nothing to reproach himself. He also appologized to all the peaceful protesters who had to suffer due to the riot police’s intervention in the square.
Cazan explained that Bucharest’s prefect took the decision to reestablish order in Victoriei Square around 20:00, as the situation was getting out of control due to violent protesters. He added that, unlike other protests in the past, this time the people in the square didn’t take distance from the violent protesters who were attacking the gendarmes.
About 1,000 gendarmes from Bucharest and other regions of the country were brought to maintain order in Bucharest’s Victoriei Square on August 10, when a large diaspora protest against the Government took place, according to Laurentiu Cazan.
Another important character on that evening was colonel Catalin Paraschiv, the head of the Romanian Gendarmerie’s Special Intervention Unit, who was seen that night coordinating his men in white clothes, which is why he was nicknamed “the man in white”. Paraschiv’s men participated in clearing the square after 23:00 and some reporters said they were beaten or assaulted at his order. Paraschiv said in an interview with local satire magazine Kamikaze that his men didn’t beat any peaceful protesters. He also said there were hundreds of violent protesters in the Victoriei Square that night who were moving all over the square and attacking the gendarmes, which is why the order to clear the square was issued.
However, his statements are contradicted by video footage of the events and witness reports, who said the man ordered gendarmes to beat journalists and took away the mobile phone of a journalist who was filming him.
Over 400 people were hurt or got sick due to the riot police’s brutal intervention in Victoriei Square on August 10, including two Austrian journalists, who were assaulted, and four Israeli tourists, who were dragged out of their taxi and beat for no reason. The Gendarmerie’s explanation about the four tourists was that intel showed that violent protesters were trying to get out of the protest’s area by cab.
The violent crackdown of the protest was also presented by important international newspapers in France, Germany and UK, including Le Monde, Die Welt and Financial Times.
Meanwhile, the Romanian Gendarmerie posted a video on its Facebook page showing that riot police forces in Western countries also use violence during protests.
Another video shows the succession of events during the protest in Bucharest's Victoriei Square on August 10.
(Photo by: Inquam Photos / George Calin)