Sunday, 8 November 2015

Coffee in Bucharest this afternoon with two people from the protests

A friend who spends every evening protesting, as so many of my friends do, invites me to have coffee with two people she has met at the protests. One is a Polish photo-journalist who came here with the Polish President and stayed to follow the protests. He photographed the migrants being beaten by police at Keleti railway terminus in Budapest, then went to the Greek island of Kos and followed them in their march to Germany. He says 5% are genuinely fleeing danger, the rest are economic migrants. 

A lovely and very emotional man named Eugen tells me a friend of his named Mimi died in the Colectiv club. He hopes the protests will force a real lasting change in Romania and not a change of government. Romanians have to learn to be collective, not individualists and this I know is true. I repeated what an American had said to me that the some of the protesters, who are not so very many, are familiar faces that he has seen in demos in Piata Revolutiei for a couple of years. Eugen agrees that there are some people protesting who have are not simply people moved by the deaths but have another reason for being there. ‘What reason? Who are they? The secret service? The political parties?’ ‘We don’t know. ’

People who attend the protests tell me it feels like a mixture of spontaneous protest and the puppeteer's art. I get that impression- the TV showing protests on Wednesday with split screens showing Iasi, Cluj, Bucharest, yet in all the places I was struck by the numbers of protesters being much fewer than say election night last year, the anti-austerity protests that brought Ponta and the USL to power in 2012, or election night 2004.

My friend and the journalist expressed great fears about Muslim migrants coming to Europe. Eugen was very worked up hearing this. People are the same he said - we must not split off bad things inside ourselves and project them on to others. We must be one.

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