Thousands of Romanians rally for release of kidnapped journalists
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Thousands of Romanians participated in rallies on Monday to campaign for the release of three Romanian journalists kidnapped last month in Iraq. Crowds swelled in size after a weekend of smaller rallies sponsored by Romanian media workers and the Arab community in Romania.
Rallies were held all over the country, with the largest in Bucharest, capital of Romania, and eight other cities. Rallying continues today with intensity in view of the deadline set by the journalists' captors demanding a Romanian pull out of its troops in Iraq. If the government does not pull out the troops, the captors threaten to kill the three — Marie-Jeanne Ion (32), Sorin Dumitru Miscoci (30) and Ovidiu Ohanesian (37).
The mother of Marie-Jeanne Ion, Magdalena Ion, made a public speech where she expressed hope that her daughter, and her daughter's colleagues, will be saved. She said, "The authorities have tried to reassure us but we are very anxious because the deadline is so short. But I'm sure it will be all right in the end."
Romania's Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu, said his government is making all efforts for the journalists' release, and they would not yield to terrorist demands, since this would enforce the fact that terrorism works.
Counter groups are calling for Romania to withdraw its troops. The right-wing Popular Great Romania Party (PPCD) and the social-liberal Romanian Humanist Party (PUR) have both pressured the government to withdraw.
The Social Democratic Party (PSD), the largest party in opposition, said that troops should be withdrawn, but not under terrorist pressure. The PSD has mostly kept quiet during the kidnapping crisis because it was in power during 2000-2004 and was, therefore, the party who sent the troops to Iraq in the first place. However, party president Mircea Geoană, told a news conference that, "We must find a correct balance to establish a calendar without giving the impression that we have yielded to political blackmail."
A pullout of Romania's troops is supported by over 70% of the population, according to a poll taken at the weekend. However, the governing Truth and Justice alliance is keen to let troops remain in Iraq for peacekeeping efforts, until the country's situation stabilises.
A withdrawal by Romania would deal a blow to the US-led Coalition of the Willing. Romania's is one of the largest contingents of any European country in Iraq due to the recent withdrawals or downscaling of Spain, Italy, the Ukraine and Poland. Romania has so far been one of the only NATO countries not announcing a withdrawal. President Traian Băsescu was planning in March to send more troops.
Related news 
- "Romanian PM says his country won't give in to terrorist demands" — Wikinews, April 25, 2005
- "Romanian reporters call for release of hostages in Iraq" — Wikinews, April 24, 2005
- "Romania will do everything possible to spare journalists kidnapped in Iraq" — Wikinews, April 23, 2005
- "Three Romanian journalists abducted in Iraq" — Wikinews, March 30, 2005
- "Rally in Romania to push for release of kidnapped journalists" — , April 26, 2005
- Antonia Oprita. "Romania opposition party wants Iraq troop pullout" — , April 25, 2005