Honest Ed is an iconic “Canadian Kwik-E-Mart” that will forever close its doors on December 31, 2016. If you are wondering what does this have to do with the recently arraigned Ion Iliescu, well, I couldn’t find another rhyme.
I have expressed my views on Ion Iliescu long time ago, in two articles: I & II. My view was that finding him guilty is more akin to mob justice than real justice. It is a view that’s not shared by many of my friends and relatives, who actually hate him and wish for nothing less than to see him rot in jail.
If you are a foreigner and do not know what this is about, Iliescu is a former President of Romania, who succeeded Ceausescu and who also decided Ceausescu’s execution. Iliescu filled the vacuum of power as a former nomenklaturist and communist who was at one point close to ceausecu but was eventually pushed away from Bucharest, still in a leadership position. He visibly pivoted from communism to socialism / social-democracy and is known for being able to patiently out-talk his critics. Some view it as an inoffensive imbecile similar to Yeltsyn who, though he may not have enriched himself directly, allowed oligarchs to amass riches and criminals to go unpunished. Others think that he was a communist who applied “scientific communism” methods to governing and is directly responsible for everything that went wrong, having kept Romania behind through his failure to quickly disappear from the political scene after having stabilized state institutions. At first, in 1989, he claimed he was going to do just that after having seized power, then changed his mind, ran for elections and comfortably won in early 1990. People demonstrated in Bucharest, where nobody wanted him, and after the miners came in the “Mineriad” and beat everybody up, killing a few people and maiming hundreds, he thanked them to “make them go”.
On his blog (iil-remember) he writes that “not all that we lived through in communism was bad and not all that we live through today is good”.
He has already been investigated a few times, but nothing stuck. After this latest arraignment, he declared that he is beyond reproach and that he will fully cooperate with the investigation.
CTP for instance, who affirmed publicly his belief that Iliescu did not order the army to shoot, thinks that he is guilty of not sending people home back in the security theatre of 1989. It’s a very interesting show and I’ll try sometime to watch the full 1.5h of it. Kamikaze (kmkz-crimbat) calls him an “old criminal”, in their attempt to explain for young people why he must go to jail.
I don’t expect my view to get me too many fans, but with the risk of a few rotten eggs landing in my comment section, I’ll tell you again, this time in English, why I am not excited by his arraignment.
For a consistency check, let me look at positions I took in different situations, but with similar “geography”.
- First, I was unhappy when I heard that Osama had been killed. Not because I condoned his actions or took schadenfreude in 9/11, but because I did not trust whatever “evidence” was presented against him, and him taking responsibility for the terrorist act was not sufficient – for each terrorist attack there’s usually a few groups taking responsibility, some being opportunists who had nothing to do with it. And generally, extrajudicial killings, whether perpetrated against non-Americans or Americans, make me very uneasy.
- Secondly, those who read this blog know that I’m not a Putin fan. So, even though I praised him for giving Snowden asylum, I still consider him a menace to Eastern Europe and the rest of the world. But if we are to be fair, and as much as recognizing this is not to our national advantage, there are some who can credibly argue that Putin’s moves are defensive and provoked by American meddling at their border. And it’s not me saying that, it’s Noam Chomsky (among others).
And that’s what I’m trying to say: I don’t like Iliescu, I cannot stand him. It takes effort and patience to watch him on TV, but the same goes for other Romanian Engrish speakers. Yet dislike of a politician, even from a compromised party such as PSD, is not a reason to send them to jail.
His actions (i.e., thanking the miners and Miron Cozma) are not really actions but rather speeches. These speeches may hide actions and orders behind the camera that would implicate guilt, but so far nothing was proven and the principle of presumption of innocence is, to my mind, more important than getting this guy (and others) to jail.
We need to have a functional and fair justice system more than we need revenge on Iliescu. And that means no more convictions on conveyor belt.
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