visiting christmas / 2010
In late 2010, I was given a Kodak single use film camera as part of x-change, a project that asked students from Bucharest, Istanbul, Krakow and Vienna to represent their cities through the use of photography.
I didn't do a very good job in representing Bucharest and not a single photo that I took was selected in the project's presentations. Maybe one of the reasons was that I didn't quite photograph the city. I documented my walk towards (and the experience of) the Christmas party of Bucharest's largest revolutionary association (Asociatia 21 Decembrie), having already started working on "index".
Teodor Maries (Doru Maries), the president of the association and one of the most active figures of the 1989 revolution, played the role of Santa Claus.
December is the most important month of the year for Bucharest's revolutionaries.
On December 21st they pay their respect to the fallen and on Christmas they celebrate a new beginning.
The Romanian revolution erupted in Timisoara on December 16th, 1989, with a protest of the Hungarian community. This came in response to the desire of the Government to evict pastor László Tőkés, after he criticized the Systematization policy of the communists to the Hungarian press.
On December 17th protests continued, when rioters infiltrated the building of the District Committee, destroying the Party's documents and propaganda materials. Rioters tried to set the building on fire, but military units stopped them.
Ceausescu departed for Iran on December 18th, hoping that his subordinates would deal with the revolutionaries. For the first time ever, he was escorted during the whole trip by 4 MIG jet fighters. At the same time, in Timisoara, mayor Petre Mot declared martial law, forbidding people to go out in the streets in groups.
On December 20th, Timisoara's Opera square was occupied by around 100.000 protesters. They started screaming and chanting "Do not fear anymore, Ceausescu wil fall!" and "We are the people."
In Bucharest, Ceausescu returned from Iran on the 20th. At 19:00, he gave a speech on the national television, in which he accused foreign governments for interfering and coordonating the events from Timisoara.
On December 21st, Bucharest's mayor, Barbu Petrescu, organized a grand national assembly, of around 100.000, set to condemn the uprising from Timisoara. The event was aired live around the country. It was estimated that 70% of the population was watching. Party officials brought a lot of workers in the center of the Romanian capital, and equipped them with red flags, communist banners and gigantic pictures of Ceausescu, in order to make him look popular. The leader addressed the people, presenting the benefits of the regime, and announced that the salaries would be raised by 10%.
Out of the sudden, movement and commotion was seen and heard from the outskirts of the assembly. Either firecrackers or gunshots were described to have been the cause. Turmoil set in. The revolution arrived in Bucharest.
On December 22nd, Ceausescu fled the Central Comitee by helicoper, transforming his status from leader to fugitive.
On December 23rd, tank units came to protect the Palace of the People.
On December 24th, Ion Iliescu, head of a newly formed Council of the National Salvation Front signed a decree regarding the establishment of an Extraordinary Military Tribunal.
On December 25th, a trial was held. It delivered two death sentences: one to Nicolae Ceausescu and one to Elena, his wife. The execution was carried out immediately. Ceausescu died on Christmas. Santa brought Romania democracy.