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Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

January, 1985

Report on the Situation of Minorities in Rumania

Rapporteur: Mr. Blaauw


presented by the Committee on relations

with European non­member countries

The Assembly,

1. Considering the right of ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language;
2. Recalling that these human rights are solemnly guaranteed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Helsinki Final Act and the Madrid Concluding Document of the conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe;
3. Conscious of the fact that the aforementioned rights include not only the right to stay in ones own country, but also to leave it at any moment;
4. Conscious also of the fact that discrimination and violation of human rights can drive citizens into trying to leave their country;
5. Recalling the alarming reports that persons belonging to ethnic, religious, or linguistic minorities in Romania are denied the right to enjoy their own culture, to profess and prac tice their religion, or to use their own language;
6. Noting that the Romanian authorities policy gives rise to serious injustices towards the persons concerned and in many instances makes it impossible for them to leave Romania,
7 Stressing particularly the fact that the states participating in the CSCE agreed in Basket III of the Helsinki Final Act to give sympathetic consideration to applications to leave presented by their citizens for reasons of family reunion or reunion of fiances, simplify the procedures and reduce the fees payable;
8. Having noted with deep concern the Decree of the Council of State of Romania dated 1 November 1982 stipulating that permission to leave the country ­ even in cases of family reunion and reunion of fiances ­ can be granted only if study grants and social security benefits are paid back to the Romanian Government in foreign currency, even though the possession of foreign currency is a punishable offense;
9. Noting that the Romanian Government's policy in all these matters constitutes a flagrant violation of the Helsinki agreements.
10 Calls on the Romanian Council of State:
a. to ensure the respect for and actual enjoyment of the rights of persons belonging to ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities as well as to protect their legitimate interests as provided for in international agreements and the Romanian Constitution;
b. to stop violation of basic human rights of national minorities as occurs at present in Romania in the social, ethnic, cultural, economic and religious fields, and to create a situation in Romania by which all peoples can live without discrimination and will not be driven into deciding to leave their own country.
c. to rescind the Decree of 1 November 1982 and authorize those persons who have applied to leave to do so, in accordance with the Agreements and treaties which Romania has made or to which it has acceded.


by Mr. Blaauw


Romania is the only Warsaw Pact country that has taken foreign policy positions that diverge from official Soviet policy. The first Eastern bloc country to establish diplomatic ties with the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1960s, Romania has departed from Soviet policies in maintaining close relations with China after the Soviet­Chinese conflict, and with Israel after the 1967 war. Romania has taken issue with the Soviet Union on the invasions of Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan, the imposition of martial law in Poland, and the continued deployment of SS­20 medium range nuclear missiles in the USSR. It was the only Eastern bloc country participating in the Los Angeles Olympic games. Romanian policy can be understood from its basic nationalistic issues ­ territorial claims against the USSR (Bessarabia); idea of a "one nation" state (ie only "Romanians" in Romania); problems with minorities ­ mainly with Hungarians in Transylvania (about two­and­a­half million). (Hungary dropped its territorial claims against Romania concerning Transylvania). Romania's internal situation is that of a highly centralized nationalist­communist state. The communist party, led since 1965 by Romania's current President, Nicolae Ceausescu, directs every significant aspect of life in the country.
In the area of human rights, there are major discrepancies between Romanian law and the nation's international commitments on the one hand and the government's internal practices on the other. Despite the full range of constitutional guarantees, all liberties may be exercised only within the narrow limits established by the party and state. Political dissidence and deviation of the party's policy are not tolerated. The use of intimidation and to a lesser extent physical pressure to discourage such activities persist. The population is convinced of the omnipotence of the government's extensive security apparatus.
There are many ethnic groups living in Romania: Hungarians, Germans, Serbs, Ukrainians, Slovaks, Czechs, Bulgarians, Gypsies and Jews. The Romanian state pretends to form a single nation and the administrative structure of the country pretends also to be based on economic and social criteria, not on ethnic characteristics. In practice, this principle is abused by the government as a weapon against national minorities. The tensions between Romanians and the minorities can be understood from the history of present­day Romania, in which various nationalities in different periods have shared the same territories and Romanians sharply disagree with others over who was there first. Although the Romanian Constitution and legislation provide for minority rights, minority groups in Romania often say that they live under a double burden: the burden of repression in a totalitarian state and the burden of discrimination stemming from Romanian chauvinism and "Romanization."
The Romanian Government mostly, but not always, discourages emigration but generally allows a certain number of citizens to emigrate. Emigrants often wait for years and experience harassment or other difficulties before being allowed to leave. The government also exercises close supervision over religious and cultural activities.

Protection of Human Rights

Rights Guaranteed

In its Section II on the fundamental rights and obligations of citizens, the constitution guarantees the human rights proclaimed in the Universal Declaration and in Article 13 (5) en­joins the state to guarantee the exercise thereof:
"the state shall guarantee the exercise of these citizen's rights," and this applies in regard both to relations between the state and citizens and to relations between private persons.
Thus the constitution provides that all citizens are equal before the law without discrimination based on nationality, race, sex or religion, in all spheres of economic, political, legal, social and cultural life. Any attempt to restrict them, to perpetrate nationalist or chauvinist propaganda, or to arouse racial hatred shall be punished by law (Article 17).
Other rights guaranteed include the right to freedom of speech and the press (Article 28), the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association (Article 27). But the latter freedom may not be used for purposes hostile to the socialist regime and contrary to the interests of workers (Article 29).
The right to work (Article 18), to rest (Article 19) and to social security (Article 20) are also provided for.
Similarly the constitution guarantees the inviolability of the person (Article 31) and of the home (Article 32) as well as the secrecy of correspondence (Article 83).
Romanian law regulates two systems of property ownership: ownership of social property and ownership of personal property. From the latter are excluded any possessions which, by their nature, could constitute a source of livelihood without work or engender exploitation. The constitution protects the right to own property and the right of succession (Articles 36 and 37).
It should be noted that the institution of rights and freedoms is considered in Romania, as in other socialist countries, merely as an expression within the framework of a communist system. Man being regarded as a member of the system, freedom is determined by the state, society and the "people," power being theoretically vested in the latter, fully controlled by the communist party (which in Romania means a communist party with a nationalistic "one nation, one people" attitude).

The Exercise of Rights and Freedoms

The hopes engendered by the development of the Romanian path towards socialism via a policy of independence vis­a­vis the USSR appear illusory. The 1970's witnessed nothing but retreats on all fronts, in terms of the economy and freedoms alike. In 1971 the Ceaucescu "Cultural mini­revolution" brought with it still tighter party control over society accompanied by government stimulation of animosity by Romanians against national minorities (primarily Hungarians). Discontent could no longer be contained in 1977, when there was a first open movement for the respect for human rights proclaimed in the constitution and the Helsinki Agreements. The movements were speedily and harshly supressed but continued thereafter. Today the situation in Romania is described together with that of Czechoslovakia as the worst two in Eastern Europe from a human rights point of view.

The Situation of

Minorities and Ethnic Groups

The Romanian state pretends to form a single nation notwithstanding the fact that the country is a multinational state. This implies the consequence of liquidation of all nationalities but ethnic Romanians. Romania is very persistent in its realization of this nationalistic aim. Its basic philosophy and its realization in practice are a flagrant violation of human rights in a country which in fact could be the Switzerland of Eastern Europe, where all nationalities after World War
II clearly demonstrated a readiness for such cooperation based on recognition of each others' human, and national identity. The administrative structure of the country is based on economic and social criteria, not on ethnic characteristics. The communist party's policy, faithful to Marxist theory, is solely concerned with the distribution of the productive forces in the country's industrial development.
Minorites are represented in the National Assembly. Out of a total of 849 members, there are: 309 Romanians; 39 Hungarians; 8 Germans; 2 Serbs; 1 Jew. The proportion in People's Councils at local level, is identical.
Workers belonging to minorities are also represented in departmental councils (appointed by firms and from members of the Romanian Communist Party, trade unions...).
In fact, however, the consistently declared aim of official policy is integration of minorities in the Romanian nation, within a socialist society. Official Romanian statistics actually tend to support this viewpoint. These figures disclose an increase in the number of Romanians, while other nationalities (with the exception of Romany, Turks, who according to some statistics, are showing a percentage increase, and Tartars) are on the decline. Romanian official statistics concerning nationality of citizens of the country are doubtful. It is said that groups are forced to declare that they are Romanians even if they are not. Csangos, Hungarians living on the eastern side of the Carpathians, are an example of this method. The women are regularly prevented from wearing their (Hungarian) traditional costume.
There is in fact a specific problem attached to each specific minority.
Romanian statistics (see remark above) show that the Hungarian population would be declining steadily. In fact there is very considerable resistance, not to say outright opposition, to the policy of Romanianization.
One of the important complaints of the Hungarian minoritv in Romania is that the number of Hungarian schools and the number of Hungarian language courses in Romanian schools are cotinually and systematically decreasing, and are often reduced to zero. The Hungarian community greatly values Hungarian language education as a way of transmitting and preserving culture. The decline of Hungarian education and cultural opportunities has led many in the Hungarian community in Romania to feel that they are being subject to "cultural genocide". In this respect of great importance is the liquidation of the Autonomous Hungarian Area set up after World War II.
In 1977, Karoly Kiraly, a member of the Hungarian minority occupying an official position in the RCP (Romanian Communist Party), argued that the Hungarian minority was being forcibly integrated and discriminated against in cultural, educational and employment matters. Despite the support of Ion Cheorghe Maurer (former Prime Minister) and two senior officials belonging to the Hungarian minority, he was arrested, his house was searched and he was placed under house arrest, which lasted until 1979. The recently imposed emigration tax which affects Romanian citizens who wish to resettle in the west also affects members of the Hungarian minority in Romania who would like to settle in Hungary or elsewhere. Since the tax must be paid in hard currency, which Hungarian citizens are not allowed to possess, there is no possibility for their relatives in Hungary to help pay the Romanian emigration tax. Members of the Hungarian minority who apply to emigrate to Hungary are subject to the same sort of harassment as other potential emigrants (see Emigration).
It should be noted that Transylvania, where the majority of the approximately two­and­a­half million Hungarians in Romania are living, has belonged since the year 896 to Hungary and it received only special status in the 16th century, under Turkish supremacy, which formally was continued under the House of Habsburg between 1692 and 1867. During both periods it was clear that Transylvania in principle belonged to the Hungarian Crown. Hungarians (Szekelys, Seklers or Siculi being also Hungarians, as well as the aforementioned Csangos on the Eastern side of the Carpathians, who are not traceable in official Romanian documents) have lived in Transylvania for more than 1.000 years. They have always been, and remain to this day, of great importance for the cultural, social and religious life in Hungary, and for Hungarians elsewhere in the world. Forced emigration of such a group would therefore be an offense against basic human principles and ethics. It is also clear that neither Hungary, nor any other country could absorb such a large group.
As mentioned above, after World War II the socio­psychological situation was created for a peaceful coexistence and cooperation of nationalities within Romania. The forceful approach of the Romanian Government to create a one­nation state to the detriment of the Hungarian minority was, and remains, unnecessary even from the point of view of the existence of Romania as created in 1920 and recreated after World War II. The dramatic situation of Hungarians has been published in the memorandum to the participants of the Madrid Conference concerning the Helsinki Agreements by the editors of Ellenpontok (Counterpoints) of 1982 (Geza Szocs and Attila Ara­Kovacs).
Hungarians in Romania want only to be considered ­ both in theory and in practice ­ as equal citizens of a multinational state, having their autonomous territory, their own education on all levels, including university, free publication of books, newspapers, etc. and having their own churches.

Romany (Gypsies)

The Romany form the third largest minority in Romania. They have in fact always been regarded, as in many other countries, as second class citizens. Government control of this minority group has made its consequences felt in many other countries. Persecution of Romany, it has to be admited, is endemic in nearly all societies. It must not be forgotten that this people did not escape severe persecution and extermination during the second world war throughout Europe.


Germans make up the second largest minority in Romania. They went to Transylvania as colonists in the 13th century and to the Banat in the 18th century on the invitation of the Hungarian Crown. They were considered as the defeated after World War II and suffered discrimination etc. By 1947, a total of 15,000 had succeeded in leaving Romania. Emigration was halted for ten years but migrants began once more to trickle out of the country in 1957. Since 1967, in fact, the date when diplomatic relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and Romania were established, departures have been regulated on a quota basis, in the light of the economic interest of Romania. After the USSR, the Federal Republic of Germany is Romania's second most important partner. 80,000 Germans, out of a total of 358,000, at present have their entry visas to the Federal Republic of Germany, and await Romanian exit permits. However, a large part of this minority group would prefer to continue living in Romania.


Jews emigrated on a massive scale between 1944 and 1948, despite the efforts of the Romanian Communist Party to secure their wholesale collaboration, which continued until 1952. Emigration is continuing at the moment (1,155 autorizations in 1981,1,689 in 1982) with a very positive attitude from the side of the Romanian Government. Romanian judaism is confined to towns and cities, members of the community are aging, and it is bound to disappear. Romania, the only country in Eastern Europe that recognizes the State of Israel, will shortly be a country from which judaism is absent. In this way, Romania, probably without realizing it is bringing into effect the slogan of the fascist "Iron Guard" practicing between the two world wars: "Out with the Jews, down with Hungarians!"



The Romanian Government officially strongly opposes emigration and does not accept as a right the permanent departure of citizens from the country. Those who express a desire to emigrate are encouraged to change their minds by a variety of punitive measures, including loss of job or salary, arbitrary transfer to a work site far from home, and loss of housing. Intending emigrants often have to wait for years before receiving passports. Others are told in advance that they will never be permitted to leave. During their wait, many have been detained and interrogated regarding their sympathies and contacts abroad.
The government began implementing a decree in February 1983 requiring intending emigrants to repay the state in convertible currency the cost of their education beyond the tenth grade level, purportedly to discourage the drain of needed economic and technical manpower. Because Romanian citizens are not permitted to have convertible currency, the money to pay this education tax had to be furnished from abroad. However, following strong international criticism of the decree, particularly from the German and United States Governments, the administration ceased implementation of the "education tax" in June 1988. There is no evidence that the tax has been levied since then. Nevertheless, there are reports in the Western press that such payments are made unofficially in order to facilitate the obtaining of an exit visa.
The government permits some emigration for family reunification purposes and in certain "humanitarian" cases. According to official Romanian figures the number of emigration applicants this year has doubled since 1972 and approached 20,000 in 1982. The emigration of Jews to Israel and of ethnic Germans to the Federal Republic of Germany, largely for family reunification, is allowed. Approximately 1,300 and 15,000 people left for Israel and the Federal Republic of German respectively in 1983.
According to unofficial reports, the number of applicants for passports is over one and a half million, that is to say one national in 20. The process is lengthy, expensive, and the outcome uncertain. A considerable number of persons take the risk of crossing the frontier clandestinely, and are either captured by Yugoslav frontier guards and turned over to the Romanian authorities, or killed (there are several clandestine burial grounds on the frontier between Yugoslavia and Romania)


In no country of Eastern Europe is emigration such an acute problem: endeavors to secure a passport have become a mass phenomenon. This desire of mass exodus of the people is to be seen as an act of despair, a bid for freedom, in the teeth of the disastrous situation in which the country finds itself, in the grip of an economic crisis on an unprecedented scale, as well as a political and moral crisis.
Romania is faced with a virtually total penury of commodities, which have risen 35% in price, while controls and restrictions abound. Two decrees, dated 10 and 17 October 1981, established the principle of basic food rationing, restricting the scope for purchasing and hoarding, and also making it compulsory for certain categories of citizens to work. In fact it is necessary to produce more and eat less, to work at three levels ­ 48 hours per week in the factory (not counting unpaid overtime), on the collective farm and also on the allotment, without, at the end of the day, an' tarantee of a livelihood. The results of these decrees have been famine and division among the people: under the pretext of attempting to deal with speculation, wastage, theft, corruption, endeavours are being increased to involve each and every person in a network of hatred, guilt, suspicion and fear.
In order to stop emigration the Romanian Government should not only reorganize and reform the country's economic structures in order to improve its standard of living, but also improve the conditions under which the minorities are living. This means in the first place to fully respect Article 27 of the UN Covenant on political and civil rights:
"In those states in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their groups, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion or to use their own language.

" and Article 22 of the Romanian Constitution provides:
"In the Socialist Republic of Romania the cohabiting nationalities shall be assured the free use of their mother tongue, as well as books, newspapers, periodicals, theatres and education at all levels in their own languages. In territorial­administrative units also inhabited by population of non­Romanian nationals, all the bodies and institutions shall use in speech and in writing the language of the nationality concerned and shall appoint officials from its ranks or from among other citizens who know the language and way of life of the local population.

From the Christian

Response International:

Congressman Sujander, Two Members

of the British Parliament

Conclude Fact­Finding Trip to Romania

Washington, December 19, 1984:
A human rights fact­finding team including U.S. Congressman Mark Sujander (R­M I), two members of the British Parliament, David Atkinson (Conservative Party) and Thomas Clarke (Labor Party) have concluded an eightAay trip to the Socialist Republic of Romania.
The purpose of the trip was to investigate reports of religious repression. Rev. Jeffrey A. Collins, who directs the U.S. national office of Christian Response International, a legal and spiritual support ministry to persecuted Christians around the world, termed the Romanian trip a "total success."
CHRISTIAN RESPONSE INTERNATIONAL reported in the publication RESPONSE in June 1984: Faced with evidence that religious persecution affects thousands of Evangelicals in Romania, Christian Response International (CRI) Board of Directors Vice President Torn Riner decided to do something about it:
he introduced a resolution in the Kentucky State Legislature. The measure, which was passed unanimously, calls for a statewide boycott of Romanian­made products, and for the United States to end its most favored nation (MFN) special trading status with Roniania.
In the same issue of RESPONSE we read:
"Romanian officials fired three school teachers saying that their church attendance made them unfit to provide an atheistic education to students.
Florica Farcas (real name Virag Farkas) a French language teacher at School No. 51 in Oradea (Nagyvarad), Monica Din, an English teacher in Cluj (Kolozsvar) and Victoria Faur, an instructor at the General School in the Bihar district were each dismissed."
The RESPONSE failed to mention that the three teachers were members of the Hungarian minority.


of the Societies of Danube Swabians

of the United States, Inc.

June, 1977
Der Deutsch­A merikaner
WHEREAS, Romania's communist regime has deported all able bodied members of the once half million Danube Swabian minority to concentration camps, into foreign exile and to the desert of Baragan, where a great number fell victim to inhuman conditions;
WHEREAS, Romanian bureaucrats, through control of the labor market, are dispersing the survivors of said concentration camps throughout the country, to disintegrate their ethnic communities, in addition to immediately denying these individuals the right to work, if they apply for family reunion with relatives in the west;
WHEREAS, Romania systematically confiscates private property without compensation, impounds records, archives and objects of art, gradually liquidating the cultural, religious and educational institutions of the Danube Swabian minority;
WHEREAS, Romania's president Nicolae Ceausescu is ruthlessly pursuing an extremely nationalistic program, combined with psychological terror and exploitation, against that country's Danube Swabian, Transylvanian Saxon, Hungarian and Jewish minorities, to forcibly change their rich cultural, spiritual and ethnic identity;
WHEREAS, the above mentioned facts furthermore violate the 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights, the Helsinki Accord, as well as the Romanian Constitution itself;
that the Board of Directors of the Societies of Danube Swabians of the United States, Inc., for humanitarian reasons, hereby formally PROTESTS the above mentioned state of affairs in the name of thousands of American citizens and formally petitions its Government for assistance in helping to alleviate a situation which has become unbearabla
Matthias Aringer Theodor Junker
Secretary General President

Condemns Rumania

September, 1983
The Transylvanian Quarterly
Sir Alan Tyrrell, member of the British Parliament and delegate to the "Europa­Parliament" a probative organization, denouncing the treatment of the Transylvanian Hungarians by the government of national­communist Rumania. Sir Tyrrell demanded greater publicity for the abuses the native Hungarian population of Transylvania is being exposed to by the Rumanian government and its over­zealous agencies. He listed 24 complaints against the Ceausescu regime, including the disappearance of several young Hungarian intellectuals, who dared to speak up against the systematic oppression of the almost three million strong native Hungarian population of Rumanian­occupied Transylvania.
"A government" ­ said Tyrrell ­ "which is capable of punishing its citizens with six years in prison for smuggling a Bible into the country, deserves contempt instead of aid from the community of nations. It is high time that we reexamine our relations with Rumania!"
At the end of its summer­session the EuropaParliament unanimously condemned Rumania for its treatment of the Hungarian national minority.

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