A brief background to what is happening in Romania and the protests going on.
It all started in the 1990's when a doctor who had moved to Romania decided to improve emergency rescue services. This doctor was Raed Arafat.
What exactly did he do, back then? He started an experiment with a single second hand car. Preparing it for special emergency situations. He parked it at the hospital where he was working and said that if something very urgent comes in, they have to send this car. It was the best equipped and he had a fireman coming with who would open doors etc.
At some point Dr. Arafat expanded this service all over Romania. By this time he got money from the government and was able to buy more cars and even helicopters. He started working with firemen who would open trashed cars or get into collapsed buildings to rescue people.
This service is called "SMURD" (Serviciul Mobil de Urgenta, Reanimare si Descarcerare) - Mobile Emergency Service for resuscitation and extrication.
Dr. Arafat was, by that time and until just recently, a state sub-secretary attached to the health ministry. He got a budget that he was using on this project and it works very well. There are other services like that but SMURD is working best.
Now, after pretty much cheating the Romanian People for a long time on a lot of levels, the President had the great idea to privatize SMURD. Of course Dr. Arafat opposed this so (to make it short) he was forced to resign from his position. Of course all this happened publicly and people only needed one more thing to explode.
So people were outraged, this plan is bad, it would cost more tax money and people are poor already, it would not necessarily keep the service level where it is now, and added to all the other bad things the president already did people now want him to leave.
They want immediate elections. They want the president with his party and ministers gone.
The president did not make a statement since the protests started and it's a week now and there are more and more people now.
Today is January 19th 2012, there was a huge organized public meeting, 20,000 people attended in Bucharest, while somewhere else in Bucharest people kept protesting as usual.
Here the “fun facts” that are not so fun.
This whole thing is getting ridiculous.
# A headmaster went from class to class with a police man, telling his students (all of legal age) that if they join the protests they will be kicked out from that school.
# Riot police gives tickets for shouting against the president
# Trains to Bucharest are being stopped in mid journey and people are being asked where they go and what they do there. Everyone who seems to be on the way to protests is kicked from the train.
# A father has been arrested, he wasn't even protesting. He was there with his 11 year old daughter, lost her in the masses. But he was arrested anyway.
# A man, standing on the side of the crowd, watching the protest without participating was shot in the leg and beaten up so bad that by now he lost the bones in his leg and needs an implant.
# A journalist was arrested for being there as a reporter, his press-id was ripped off and he was beaten inside the police van.
This list goes on and on.
Reactions from the officials?
In attempt to stop the protests Dr.Arafat was accepted back in his position by now.
The president did not talk to the public, yet.
The whole situation got international attention by now and the EP-president has warned Basescu to take the protests seriously and to address the complaints.
USA officials had a message for the Romanian People to protest peacefully and for the authorities to stop the violent repression.
Everybody seems to notice the situation except the president and the government.