Romanians pay tribute to victims of 1989 revolution

Bucharest (AFP) –


Thousands of people marched in the Romanian capital Bucharest on Sunday to remember those who lost their lives in the revolution 30 years ago that ended the communist dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu.

The marchers observed a minute's silence in Revolution Square then released hundreds of balloons, which organisers said represented the 1,142 people killed during the uprising.

President Klaus Iohannis and several ministers from his centre-right administration laid commemorative wreaths and lit candles in front of a monument to the victims.

"We want to know the truth about December 1989," Iohannis said a few hours earlier, as he opened an exhibition on the revolution.

"We want the guilty to be judged and for justice to be done," he said.

Romania's former president, Ion Iliescu, is currently on trial accused of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in power during the final days of the revolution.

"It's thanks to those who died in December 1989 that we live in a free country," said 52-year-old Veronica Nicolau at the rally.

"I came to express my gratitude to these young innocents who were killed in cold blood," said Petre Cojan, a 73-year-old pensioner close to tears.

"One day, we will know the truth and then we will finally be able to celebrate the revolution rather than just commemorating it," he added.

Up until December 22, 1989, it was Ceausescu who gave the order to the army and the security forces to fire on protesters.

But most of the more than 900 victims died after he had been toppled from power and when Iliescu had taken over. His trial started last month.

The 1989 revolution that overthrew the Ceausescu regime began on December 15 in the western city of Timisoara before reaching the capital six days later.

Ceausescu and his wife Elena were arrested on December 22 and shot after a summary trial on Christmas Day.

Sunday's rally was the latest in a series of events held over the past few days to commemorate the revolution.