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The Mineriads (Romanian: Mineriadă) were a series of violent demonstrations by Jiu Valley miners in Bucharest during the 1990s, particularly 1990–91. The term "Mineriad" alone is mostly used to refer to the most violent protest, which occurred June 13–15, 1990. During the 1990s, the Jiu Valley miners played a visible role in Romanian politics, and their protests reflected inter-political and societal struggles in post-Revolution Romania.
January 1990 mineriadEdit
After the National Salvation Front's decision to transform itself into a party, an anti-Communist demonstration took place in Bucharest's Victoria Square (Piața Victoriei), organised by the Christian-Democratic National Peasants' Party (PNȚCD), National Liberal Party (PNL), and other smaller parties. Even though the anti-Communist demonstration started out, and was intended to be, non-violent, the protesters charged the Parliament building and demanded the resignation of the FSN party. After that, the FSN started talks with opposition parties.
February 1990 mineriadEdit
Less than a month after the January mineriad, another anti-Communist manifestation took place in Bucharest on February 18. Despite the demonstrators' pleas to non-violence, several persons started throwing stones into the Government building. Riot police and army forces intervened to restore order, and on the same night, 4,000 miners headed to Bucharest.
Opposition leaders and independent media speculated that the demonstration was manipulated by Securitate and FSN. Miners maintain their relative innocence of the violence, claiming that the agitation and most of the brutality was the work of Iliescu’s government agents who had infiltrated and disguised themselves as miners.
June 1990 mineriadEdit
The Romanian miners of Jiu Valley were called by the newly elected power to Bucharest to end the riots that broke up on 13 June 1990. As President Ion Iliescu put it, the miners were called to save the "besieged democratic regime" and restore order and democracy in Bucharest. The government trucked in thousands of miners from the Jiu Valley to Bucharest to confront the demonstrators. The rest of Romania and the world watched the government television broadcasts of miners brutally grappling with students and other protesters.
Over the course of a month-long demonstration in University Square, many protesters had gathered with the goal of attaining official recognition for the 8th demand of the popular Proclamation of Timișoara, which stated that communists and former communists (including President Iliescu himself) should be prevented from holding official functions. Many people, most of them intellectuals, were dissatisfied with Iliescu's first government, made up mostly of former communists, because it implemented reforms very slowly or not at all. There had been a protest and hunger strike since May 20th, the general elections day, when the protesters were angry that Iliescu's FSN won the elections mostly because the opposition had no chance to mount an effective campaign, and that former communists were in power — the only other country of the ex-Soviet bloc in which this happened was Bulgaria, where the Bulgarian Socialist Party won a 52.7% majority. Some among the protesters in University Square grew violent and attacked the police headquarters and the national television station. When the police were unable to contain the violence, Iliescu appealed to the miners to defend the country. Special trains transported some 10,000 miners to the capital, where the miners violently confronted anyone they saw as opposing the government.
The official figures say that during the third Mineriad, seven people were killed and more than a thousand were wounded. The opposition newspaper România Liberă claimed that on 29 June 1990 over 40 bodies were buried in a common grave in Străulești, near Bucharest. Conspiracy theories and rumors circulated as to the origins and development of the mineriad, with some believing that both the Romanian Presidency and Secret Service had a hand in it. Later parliamentary inquiries into the potential role of the Secret Service contributed to the widespread public mistrust of the post-Ceaușescu intelligence service.
Government inquiries would show that the miners had indeed been "joined by vigilantes who were later credibly identified as former officers of the Securitate", and that for two days, the miners had been aided and abetted by the former Securitate members in their violent confrontation with the protesters and other targets.
September 1991 mineriadEdit
January–February 1999 mineriadEdit
The Jiu Valley miners left again for Bucharest, unhappy with the governmental reduction of the subsidies, which would result in the closing of the mines. The barricade installed by the gendarmes at Costești was crossed by the miners and near Râmnicu Vâlcea a Gendarmerie unit was ambushed by the miners. Reaching Râmnicu Vâlcea, they sequestered the prefect of Vâlcea County. Radu Vasile, Prime Minister at the time, negotiated an agreement with Miron Cozma, the miners' leader, at the Cozia Monastery, nearby.
On 14 February 1999, Cozma was found guilty for the 1991 mineriad and sentenced for 18 years in prison. The miners led by Cozma left for Bucharest attempting a new mineriad, only this time they were stopped by the police at Stoenești, Olt. In the clash that followed, 100 policemen and 70 miners were wounded and one miner died. Cozma was arrested and sent to Rahova prison.
Ion Iliescu pardoned Cozma's sentence on December 15, 2004, a few days before his term ended, but revoked the decision two days later, having faced the outrage of Romanian and international media and politicians.
Cozma successfully challenged the legality of the withdrawal of the pardoning, and on the 14th of June 2005 he was freed by the Judge Court of Dolj county. However, on September 28, 2005, Cozma was sentenced by the Romanian High Court of Cassation and Justice to serve 10 years in prison for the January 1999 Mineriad, which included time already served. His request to be released on parole was denied on June 2, 2006. After serving the full term, Cozma was finally released on 2 December 2007, but was restricted from returning to either Petroșani or Bucharest.
- Academia Caţavencu, 13-15 Iunie: Trei zile cu ghinION, no. 16/2005, 27 April 2005.