Reforma sistemului universitar romanesc Friday, Sep 24 2010 

La mijlocul lunii septembrie, un numar de cercetatori romani din universitati occidentale s-au intalnit la Bucuresti in cadrul celei de-a doua editii a conferintei disaporei care, pentru prima data, a inclus un workshop axat pe stiintele sociale. Pe masa, reforma sistemului academic romanesc in vederea alinierii sale la standardele europene. Problemele cu care se confrunta universitatile romanesti la 20 de ani de la caderea regimului communist sunt evidente: lipsa excelentei in cele doua axe definitorii de cercetare si predare; lipsa competitivitatii pe plan regional si international; lipsa responsabilizarii partenerilor implicati in invatamantul universitar (incluzand studentii, corpul didactic, conducerile universitatilor, ministerul de resort); lipsa bazei materiale si a unei sustineri financiare adecvate din partea guvernului, comparabila cu cea practicata in alte tari europene. Fara indoiala, un numar de universitari romani sunt dedicati profesiei lor si si-au castigat un bine-meritat renume prin participari la conferinte internationale si publicatii in limbi straine. Efortul lor trebuie pretuit cu atat mai mult cu cat ei au muncit “contra curentului”, intr-un mediu care i-a incurajat prea putin si inca nu-i apreciaza la justa lor valoare. Insa sistemul in ansamblul sau este bolnav, doborat de probleme cronicizate ca urmare a lipsei de atentie cu care au fost tratate. Autonomia de care s-au bucurat in ultimele decenii a adancit, mai degraba decat a rezolvat, problemele universitatilor, care se fac in exclusivitate responsabile de recrutarea defectuoasa pe care au operat-o pana acum.

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Desi o serie de reforme mai mult sau mai putin inspirate au fost introduse in ultimele doua decenii, pana acum nici o universitate romaneasca nu a reusit sa intre in vreun clasament international (nici chiar in cel chinezesc, ce include nu mai putin de 500 de universitati); un numar infim de romani au publicat articole in reviste recunoscute in domeniile in care activeaza si inca si mai putini au publicat carti cu edituri prestigioase din lume sau au castigat granturi europene de cercetare; imaginea internationala a sistemului universitar romanesc este fie inexistenta, fie de-a dreptul negativa (occidentalii fie nu pot numi nici o universitate romaneasca, fie stiu ca ele ofera diplome nemeritate); cazurile de plagiat, coruptie, nepotism, trafic de influenta si aservire politica se perpetueaza intr-o apatie generala greu de inteles; iar multe universitati nu dispun nici macar de infrastructura minima necesara desfasurarii activitatii lor. Platiti modest, respectati si apreciati putin sau deloc, evaluati defectuos si niciodata depunctati, tracasati de responsabilitati din ce in ce mai largi privind recrutarea studentilor si obtinerea de fonduri de cercetare, unii profesori universitari predau mult, chiulesc frecvent, ofera feedback necorespunzator studentilor lor si sunt mereu in cautare de portite pentru a faulta sistemul.

In ultimii 20 de ani, in ciuda trendurilor regionale, universitatile romanesti au refuzat sa se deschida catre lume, continuind sa functioneze dupa standarde strict locale, in virtutea unui prestigiu inchipuit de care s-ar fi bucurat in vremurile istorice, desi marea majoritate a institutiilor de invatamant superior din Romania sunt inventii postcomuniste. Olimpicii la matematica, laureatii premiilor Nobel, rezistenta prin cultura, invitatiile din strainatate sau numarul studentilor straini veniti la studii in Romania au fost cateva argumente in numele carora universitarii romani – atat intelectuali luminati cat si provinciali obtuzi – au sustinut o scara de valori definita de o reputatie locala incerta, un snobism pernicious sau un elitism fara acoperire. Centrele universitare mari – Bucuresti, Cluj, Iasi – dispun de masa critica de resurse si personal in stiinte sociale care le-ar putea permite, daca criterii de excelenta stricte si clare ar fi impuse cu perseverenta, sa se ridice la nivel regional. Insa vasta majoritate a universitatilor aflate in afara acestora sunt enclave izolate care se supun unor reguli numai de ele stiute si care raman intr-o competitie ce include un singur concurent – ele insele. Exista profesori promovati pe baza unor cv-uri modeste, fara publicatii recunoscute international. Plagiatul este incurajat de sistem, de vreme ce asistentii la inceput de cariera trebuie sa publice cursuri care necesita o cunoastere a domeniului pe care nici profesorii la final de cariera nu o au si multiplica in mod inutil efortul de sintetizare a materialului (cate dintre cursurile introductive de matematica, stiinte politice, psilohogie publicate in Romania pot fi recunoscute ca fiind definitorii in domeniu, nu pe plan international, ci local?). Cazuri notorii de plagiat au fost eludate, autorii lor putand castiga promovare in ciuda renumelui pe care si l-au creat. Cate dintre “conferintele internationale” listate in aceste cv-uri sunt de fapt intalniri de catedra la care s-a ratacit un coleg bulgar aflat la plaja sau la munte in Romania? La cate dintre multele cursuri luate in cadrul normelor de baza, de cumul sau in regim de plata cu ora sunt profesorii prezenti? In cazul pletorei de universitari-politicieni situatia este disperata, acestia neputand fizic sa fie si la catedra, si la Bruxelles, si la interviurile televizate si la multele consfatuiri de partid.

O serii de remedii au fost deja propuse, insa cred ca ele trebuie sa fie subliniate din nou aici. Iata care ar fi, in opinia mea, masurile ce se impun in domeniul universitar. Iata Decalogul reformelor necesare:

1. Adoptarea unui sistem complex de evaluare a calitatii predarii si cercetarii. Schema de evaluare la care se lucreaza acum reprezinta un semnificativ pas inainte, insa ea se bazeaza strict pe logica punctarii si nu ii va afecta pe cei deja promovati ca profesori sau conducatori de doctorate. Insa depunctarea este la fel de importanta, ea putand sa trimita un semnal clar ca anumite practici sunt inacceptabile si ca adoptarea lor are consecinte de lunga durata care pot include refuzul promovarii sau chiar destituirea. La fel, profesorii si conducatorii de doctorate trebuie sa fie re-evaluati la fel de strict ca si conferentiarii si lectorii, pentru a putea servi drept modele legitime de implinire profesionala. Cum universitarii cu grad superior isi vor evalua colegii mai tineri, trebuie ca primii sa se ridice ei insisi la standardele de calitate pe care le pretind celorlalti. Tot aici trebuie inclusa remodelarea cv-urilor romanesti, cu un ochi la experienta altor tari. In spatiul englez, cursurile publicate fara comitet de lectura de catre universitatea unde lucreaza profesorul pentru uzul studentilor sai sunt compilatii fara valoare academica. Unii profesori romani sunt autori ai zeci de ‘carti’, nici una dintre ele nefiind publicata la edituri recunoscute la Bucuresti, pentru a nu ne gandi mai departe. Articolele de ziar (gen Adevarul, Banii nostri, Dilema, 22), lipsite de aparat critic si adresate unei audiente mai largi, dar putin competente, ar trebui sa fie clar departajate de articolele academice, chiar cele publicate fara comitet de lectura.

2. Interdictia de a ocupa simultan pozitii politice si universitare. Este greu de crezut ca un eurodeputat, ministru, deputat, senator sau consilier judetean care-si mentine pozitia universitara pe timpul mandatului sau politic va avea timpul, energia si dispozitia pentru a se imparti intre cele doua pozitii – cum s-a vazut de atatea ori in ultimii 20 de ani, cand universitarii-politicieni si-au ignorat cu nonsalanta responsabilitatile academice, fara a putea excela in spatiul politic, de altfel. La fel, este greu de crezut ca acestia vor fi depunctati corespunzator de catre colegii lor, date fiind capitalul de autoritate si posibilitatea de recompensa care insotesc pozitiile politice in Romania. Solutia nord-americana, de interzicere a imbinarii acestor pozitii, ar face o mare diferenta pe malurile Dambovitei, permitandu-le politicienilor sa fie politicieni si universitarilor sa fie universitari.

3. Comasarea catedrelor si a pozitiilor similare din cadrul acelorasi universitati sau centre universitare. In universitatea X, exista o pozitie de profesor de engleza in Facultatea de Medicina, o alta in Facultatea de Economie, inca una in Facultatea de Stiinte Politice si Administrative si mai multe in Facultatea de Limbi. Fara indoiala, termenii de specialitate relevanti pentru medicina, politologie sau economie sunt diferiti, insa toate aceste pozitii, si cursurile oferite odata cu ele, ar trebui sa fie comasate in cadrul Facultatii de Limbi. Catedra de limba engleza ar trebui sa ofere cursuri specializate tuturor studentilor din universitate si chiar din alte universitati din acelasi oras. Catedra de engleza, nu Facultatea de Medicina, este cea mai in masura sa evalueze profesorul de engleza, sa gandeasca structura cursurilor, in consultare cu celelalte facultati pe care le serveste, sa adapteze materialul de curs in functie de noile metode de predare.

4. Introducerea adevaratei concurente in angajarea si promovarea personalului academic. Este de notorietate faptul ca in Romania pozitiile academice, incepand cu cele de preparator si terminand cu cele de profesor, sunt deschise “cu dedicatie” si ca de multe ori candidatul cu dosarul cel mai slab si neconvingator castiga postul in virtutea unor criterii care nu au nimic in comun cu meritul sau excelenta. Desi pozitiile sunt deschise de Ministerul Educatiei si validate de comisii pan-universitare, universitatile – chiar catedrele, sau mai bine zis decanul si seful de catedra, in lipsa unei adevarate consultari cu ceilalti membri ai facultatii – decid recrutarea, in numele unei autonomii universitare prost intelese. Comisiile de evaluare a candidaturilor ar trebui sa fie compuse in marea lor majoritate din membri alesi din afara universitatii si chiar din afara Romaniei, pentru a putea garanta obiectivitatea recrutarii si respectarea unor standarde minime, aplicabile la nivelul intregului sistem universitar romanesc. Concurenta trebuie sa fie introdusa nu numai la acordarea unei pozitii, ci si la promovare. Cand universitatea angajeaza un profesor (conferentiar), postul ar trebui sa fie deschis nu numai conferentiarului (lectorului) care cauta promovarea, ci si altor conferentiari (sau profesori) din alte universitati, care vor sa intre intr-un nou colectiv.

5. Interzicerea ocuparii unei pozitii universitare pe durata nelimitata candidatilor care nu si-au sustinut inca doctoratul. Posturile de preparator si asistent – echivalentul romanesc al pozitiilor de Teaching Assistant din America de Nord, nu a celor de Assistant Professor, cum multi romani cred – ar trebui sa fie rezervate exclusiv doctoranzilor facultatii sau catedrei respective si oferite pe baza de rotatie. Transformarea acestor posturi in pozitii temporare, platite cu ora sau cu contract de un semestru, ar da sistemului o mai mare flexibilitate, permitand deblocarea partiala a resurselor financiare alocate acestor posturi, o adaptare din mers a curiculei la noile paradigme (de vreme ce cursul, nu persoana si calificarile acesteia ar determina oferta) si ar permite unui numar mai mare de doctoranzi sa aiba acces la aceste pozitii in timpul studiilor lor si deci inainte de a concura ei insisi pentru o pozitie academica netemporara.

6. Reducerea drastica a numarului celor promovati pe post de profesor universitar si impunerea cerintei ca toti acestia sa se ridice la nivelul de calitate necesar acordarii de doctorate. Un profesor universitar fara drept de a acorda doctorate este un non-sens, un titlu pompos lipsit de continut, insa o realitate in sistemul romanesc, in care multi profesori nu au calificarile necesare pentru astfel de pozitii, nu sunt competitivi regional si sunt plafonati intelectual. Avand in vedere ca titlul de profesor este cel mai inalt care poate fi obtinut, el trebuie acordat cu deosebita parcimonie, in baza unui “track record” vizibil superior. Insa in ultimii 20 de ani diferenta dintre conferentiar si profesor s-a redus sensibil, multi conferentiari fiind promovati ca profesori dupa doar un an sau doi, in baza unui cv care, in marea sa majoritate, le-a servit pentru promovarea in pozitia de conferentiar. Nu este de mirare ca titlul de profesor s-a decredibilizat, ca urmare. Din nou, experienta nord-america poate servi drept model. Un Associate Professor poate fi promovat ca Full Professor numai dupa cel putin opt ani de cand a obtinut primul titlu, in baza demonstrarii “excelentei, recunoasterii si renumelui” in domeniul sau de activitate.

7. Descurajarea clanurilor universitare. Aproape nu exista universitate in Romania unde sa nu lucreze mai multi membri ai unei aceleiasi familii – de obicei parinti care si-au promovat copii. Nu cred ca dreptul copilului de a se afirma si a cauta sa-si construiasca o cariera universitara trebuie ingradit. Insa familiile aflate in asemenea pozitii trebuie sa accepte faptul ca posibilitatea subordonarii administrative a unora fata de altii trebuie sa fie eliminata, prin interzicerea ocuparii unor pozitii de conducere care le-ar acorda putere de decizie in angajarea sau promovarea rudelor lor. Este imoral ca un decan sa-si angajeze sora chiar si pe o pozitie incepatoare, sau un profesor sa-l aiba la clasa ca student pe propriul sau baiat chiar daca acesta este stralucit, sau mama si fiul sa publice drept co-autori texte scrise numai de unul dintre ei chiar daca celalalt sufera de o conditie medicala grava.

8. De la ISI la Super-ISI. La cativa ani de la introducerea criteriului de publicare in reviste ISI rata de publicare a autorilor romani in revistele de stiinte sociale de circulatie internationala a crescut nesemnificativ in mare parte pentru ca lista ISI folosita in Romania include reviste obscure, multe din Europa de Est sau fosta Uniune Sovietica, ale caror comitete de lectura nu sunt cu mult mai stricte decat cele din Romania, dar unde este infinit mai simplu sa publici decat in revistele occidentale. Ca atare, sistemul ISI a fost faultat prin aceasta orientare preponderenta catre reviste obscure si prin evitarea – sistematica, in cazul unor intregi facultati – a revistelor occidentale recunoscute. In plus, inregistrarea in sistemul ISI a unor reviste romanesti de reputatie dubioasa – gen Metalurgia, care publica articole de economie sau literatura comparata – a discreditat si mai mult un proces bine-intentionat. Tocmai de aceea, propun restrangerea listei ISI la o Super-ISI, un numar restrans de reviste publicate in Occident si recunoscute pe plan international. Super-ISI poate sa includa si revistele occidentale de “aria studies”, de studii est-europene, in care vecinii nostri unguri, sloveni, polonezi si cehi de mult si-au facut debutul.

9. Adoptarea si implementarea unui Cod de Etica Universitara. Poate este adevarat ca “toate apendicitele sunt la fel”, cum un renumit fost ministru plagiator sustinea acum aproape un deceniu, insa acesta nu este o scuza pentru plagiat. In ciuda legislatiei adoptate de cativa ani, practicile ne-etice sunt larg acceptate si tolerate in universitatile romanesti. Anul acesta, o prietena care preda intr-o universitate bucuresteana imi spunea ca doar 3 din 11 articole pe care le-a primit pentru un numar special intr-o revista ISI din spatiul post-sovietic s-au bazat pe material original si nu au avut probleme de (auto)plagiat. In conflictul care a urmat, decanul a luat partea plagiatorului, scandalizat de acuzatia clar dovedita. Este de mirare ca universitarii romani continua sa aiba o reputatie internationala dubioasa?

10. Regandirea rolului Ministerului Educatiei si al organelor de evaluare si acreditare. Autonomia universitara practicata in ultimele doua decenii a avut consecinte nedorite, insa este la fel de adevarat ca Ministerul a continuat sa se implice in activitatea universitatilor in arii de activitate unde nu-si avea locul si sa ramana indiferent acolo unde un control strict se impunea. Lipsa de flexibilitate in salarizare, alocarea unor resurse financiare insuficiente, aplicarea unor criterii diferite unor universitati diferite in functie de culoare politica a rectorului au trasformat Ministerul intr-un arbitru partial si influentabil politic, incapabil sa exercite controlul necesar eliminarii carentelor multiple din sistem si sa impuna standarde minime de excelenta, aplicabile tuturor. Multi universitari romani cu care am stat de vorba considera ca sistemul are nevoie de mai multa autonomie si mai multi bani. Insa autonomia a creat numeroase probleme, iar adancirea ei nu garanteaza ca sistemul va fi corectat in viitorul apropiat. La fel, salariile mici sunt un motiv pentru care profesorii iau pana la patru norme in plus de predare, insa chiar si daca salariile lor vor fi majorate, ei tot vor lua norme in plus, dat fiind materialismul cras care caracterizeaza Romania postcomunista. O regandire a raportului predare-cercetare, costuri-beneficii, punctare-depunctare ar oferi raspunsuri acestor probleme.

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Revisiting the 13-15 June 1990 events Friday, Sep 10 2010 

In June 1990, the Romanian authorities violently suppressed the peaceful demonstration of University Square in Bucharest. For many, that gesture showed that the ruling National Salvation Front, the self-proclaimed vanguard of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989, was just the old Communist Party under a new label and that President Ion Iliescu had remained true to the Stalinist convictions he shared while serving as a communist high-ranking decision maker during the 1950s and the 1960s. Iliescu called on the miners of the Valea Jiului to come to Bucharest to defend the nascent democracy against the protesters. Various national and local government members helped organize the transportation of the miners to Bucharest. Once in the capital, the miners beat up defenseless students, young girls with short skirts and men with beard (conforming to the bourgeois stereotype), destroyed property, and ransacked the headquarters of opposition political parties. Iliescu publicly thanked them for their bravery. During the 1990s, the miners came or tried to come to Bucharest five other times.

During the following twenty years, the civil society unsuccessfully tried to find out the truth about those events. In 1998, it asked for access to file 75/P/1998, prepared by a small team of prosecutors and gathering evidence of state brutality against peaceful protesters. Curiously, At the time when that request was made, the country was ruled by the anticommunist opposition, the Democratic Convention. From 2000 to 2004, when the Social Democrats (the conservative wing of the Salvation Front) formed the government and Iliescu again served as President, all efforts to prosecute the case were stalled, for obvious reasons. But the situation continued even after their political rivals, the Democrats (later renamed the Democrat-Liberals) and the Liberals, won the general elections of 2004. After the European Court of Human Rights ordered the Romanian state to surrender the file to the victims of the June 1990 mineriada. But for over a year the Romanian prosecutors refused to comply with that court order. It was only after the leader of the Association 21 December 1989, Teodor Mihaes, went of hunger strike for a staggering 78 days that the entire copy of the file was released to the civil society.

On that basis, the Association 21 December 1989 compiled a 274-page report, which is now available to the general public on the website of the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile in Bucharest (http://mineriade.iiccr.ro/pdf/dezbateri/raport_despre_fratricidul_din_13_15_iunie_1990.pdf). The report is a compelling reading. Apart from several soldiers, none of those responsible for the mineriade was made responsible for their crimes. It is high time for Iliescu to provide some honest answers berfore a court of law!

I do not have copyright on the photos, which I found on the internet.

The many shades of suffering, and guilt Thursday, Sep 9 2010 

In Romania, victims of communist repression have received compensation for the suffering they endured in virtue of Decree-Law 118/1990 and Emergency Ordinance 214/1999, but the level of support remained rather limited and benefits took the form of free public transportation rights, rather than lump sums of money. In 2009, Law 221 on the Politically Motivated Court Sentences and Their Related Administrative Measures Adopted during the 6 March 1945-22 December 1989 Period opened the possibility for significant financial compensation to those who had been sentenced to prison terms as a result of definitive and irrevocable court decisions for their opposition to the communist regime. The law also covered persons who had been transferred to other localities, deported abroad (mainly to the Soviet Union) or assigned forced domicile. Communist-era sentences recognized as having been politically motivated by a court of law were to be annulled. Victims were entitled to rehabilitation, financial compensation for the ‘moral prejudice’ they suffered as a result of their imprisonment and property lost as a result of the court sentence. The immediate surviving relatives could seek the same rights on behalf of the deceased victims. Requests for compensation must be filled within three years after the law’s adoption (1).

On this basis, Ion Diaconescu asked the Bucharest Court to recognize him as a former political prisoner, and reward him financially. The former head of the National Christian-Democrat Peasant Party, which ruled the country as part of the Democratic Convention of Romanian from 1996 to 2000, was represented in court by Victor Ciorbea, who briefly served as Prime Minister from December 1996 to April 1998. During the hearings, Diaconescu’s lawyer pointed to an older court decision which awarded the plaintiff five million Lei for 63 days in preventive arrest in an effort to justify why his client was asking for 18 million Euros for the 17 years he spent in jail. New documents obtained from the National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives, the state custodian to communist secret archives that allows citizens to read the files compiled on them, detailed the gruesome treatment Diaconescu endured in prison (2). A relative of the inter-war Peasant Party leader Ion Mihalache, Diaconescu was imprisoned in 1947, shortly after the communists took control of the country, and released in 1964, when the Romanian authorities released most political prisoners, only to assign them forced domiciles in Baragan and elsewhere. The Bucharest Court considered that Diaconescu was entitled to only 500,000 Euros (3). While lower than that demanded, the sum was still significant, given the economic crisis Romania had to face at the time.

When other former political prisoners – including the Liberal Party leader Radu Campeanu, who spent eight years in jail – announced their intention to approach the courts, Romanian authorities realized they had a problem (4). It was not that state coffers were depleted. As Ciorbea pointed out, the government had enough money to offer hefty retirement packages several times larger than the average pension to former communist perpetrators. Notorious Securitate agents Nicolae Plesita and Gheorghe Enoiu, who destroyed lives and tortured prisoners, receive monthly pensions worth 1285 and 537 Euros, respectively (by comparison, the pension of a teacher is 200 Euros). In addition, Romanian governments have been wasteful, while the over-bureaucratization of the Romanian public administration is by now proverbial. The government’s problem was the lack of support for large compensation packages on the part of the general public, who had seemingly forgotten communist crimes and embraced the idea that “we were all victims of communism, to a certain extent,” and of the political parties represented in Parliament, which have few ties to the communist-era victims but many to former Securitate agents, Communist Party local leaders, communist managers of state-owned enterprises, their sons and daughters. The government’s commitment to redressing the wrongs of the past, other than through academic research, has been lukewarm. As such, compensation packages were capped at 10,000 Euros, a move that prompted Ciorbea to lament that “the government protected the communist torturers,” since their pensions were not limited in any way (5). While some former political prisoners spent only months in prison, others were jailed for over a decade, during the 1950s, when prison living and working conditions were the worst. All endured psychological trauma, persecution and discrimination long after their release. According to the authorities, most compensation request have been filed by the descendants, not the victims themselves, since so few of these victims are still alive.

This slap on the face of the former political prisoners was not enough. Among those who approached the courts and asked for compensation were former Securitate informers condemned for political crimes under communism. Father Stefan Rosu of Turda, a small Transylvanian town near Cluj, has asked for 116,700 Euros, although he used to lead a double life. After his release from prison in September 1953, Rosu became a reliable, “correct and sincere” Securitate informer whose information notes helped sentence and imprison Luca Popa for ten years and Veronica Chira for six years. Rosu was arrested in August 1952 for encouraging his faithful not to participate in the collectivization process (6). Or take the example of Ilie Buzan, whose wife has asked for 250,000 Euros. In 1959, Buzan received a seven year imprisonment sentence for declaring, while a university student in chemistry, that his father was a worker, when in fact he was a former landowner whose property had been expropriated by the communist regime. After being jailed from 9 July 1959 to 31 July 1962, he worked at a plant in Cluj. During the 1970s, he acted as a Securitate informer under the code name Vali Teodor, alerting the secret police to the fact that plant workers were drinking instead of fulfilling their daily chores, and were wasting precious supplies (7).

The media attention that cases like these has recently received risks endangering the compensation program and provide the government, the courts, and the political elite with another pretext to not do what’s right: recognize suffering, stop impunity, and punish perpetrators. For some time we’ve known that sometimes the victims and victimizers categories overlapped in communist Eastern Europe. One could be a victim when arrested and jailed while a young student, but a victimizer once agreeing to collaborate with the secret police after the release from prison. Similarly, one could be a victim and a victimizer at the same time, if informing on relatives and friends out of fear for his own life or desire to secure the right to write the university entrance exam for his child. One posture does not negate the other, as some have insisted. The fact that a secret informer has suffered politically motivated imprisonment does not ‘cleanse’ that person’s record and set his guilt counter back to zero. Conversely, suffering should not be downplayed or negated, when accompanied, or preceded by guilt for collaboration. Yes, some of those who will approach the courts will not belong squarely or only in the victim category, as some former political prisoners were in fact recruited as secret informers later in life. But that should be ok with all of us.

What the public should discuss is the capping of the compensation packages. A former political prisoner is now entitled to less than the annual pension received by Plesita and other torturers. As far as I can see, there has been no public outcry related to the vast discrepancy between these numbers, although the capping of compensations packages means that, even today, the tortured are placed at a significant material disadvantage compared to their torturers. How can the torturers’ exorbitant pensions be justified in comparison to the victims’ meager compensation packages? A proposal to diminish the inflated pensions of former prison guards and Securitate agents has been blocked, on grounds that it could place them at a disadvantage, infringe their basic rights (since “what was earned, was earned” regardless of how immoral the job), and the problem will be fixed when a new wage and pension law will come into effect. Once again, the government has sided with the communist decision-making and has rewarded impunity.

Notes:
(1) Law 221 on the Politically Motivated Sentences and Their Related Administrative Measures Adopted during the 6 March 1945-22 December 1989 Period, 2 June 2009, available at: http://www.legestart.ro/Legea-221-2009-condamnarile-caracter-politic-masurile-administrative-asimilate-acestora-pronuntate-perioada-6-martie-1945-22-decembrie-1989-(MzMzMTA5).htm.
(2) See also, Ion Diaconescu, Temnita. Destinul generatiei noastre (Bucharest: Nemira, 2003) and Ion Diaconescu, Dupa temnita (Bucharest: Nemira, 2003).
(3) “Liderul taranist Ion Diaconescu a castigat in instanta 500,000 euro daune morale,” Mediafax, 4 March 2010, available at: http://www.mediafax.ro/social/liderul-taranist-ion-diaconescu-a-castigat-in-instanta-500-000-de-euro-daune-morale-6371593.
(4) “Campeanu vrea despagubiri morale dupa modelul Diaconescu,” Evenimentul Zilei, 20 June 2010, available at: http://www.evz.ro/detalii/stiri/campeanu-vrea-despagubiri-morale-dupa-modelul-diaconescu-898608.html.
(5) “Ciorbea: Guvernantii apara tortionarii,” Ziare.com, 1 July 2010, available at: http://www.ziare.com/stiri/proces/ciorbea-guvernantii-apara-tortionarii-1026531. Emergency Ordinance 62/2010 limited payments to 10,000 Euros for victims, 5,000 for their surviving spouses and children, and 2,000 for their grandchildren.
(6) Adrian Moldovan, “Preotul turdean Stefan Rosu solicita 116,700 euro, pentru cele 389 zile petrecute la Canal, desi ulterior a fost ‘informator bun’ al Securitatii,” TurdaNews, 8 September 2010, available at: http://www.turdanews.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11187:preotul-turdean-tefan-rou-solicit-116700-euro-pentru-cele-389-zile-petrecute-la-canal&catid=17:dezvluiri&Itemid=637; and Mihai Soica, “Despagubiri cerute de fosti informatori ai Securitatii, ca preotul Stefan Rosu din Turda,” Evenimentul Zilei (8 September 2010), available at http://www.evz.ro/detalii/stiri/despaguri-cerute-de-fosti-informatori-ai-securitatii-905363.html.
(7) Mihai Soica, “Despagubiri cerute de fosti informatori ai Securitatii,” Evenimentul Zilei, 8 September 2010, available at: http://www.evz.ro/detalii/stiri/despaguri-cerute-de-fosti-informatori-ai-securitatii-905363.html.

Czech documentaries Children of 1950s awarded in New York Tuesday, Sep 7 2010 

ČTK | 6 SEPTEMBER 2010
New York/Prague, Sept 3 (CTK) – Czech documentaries Children of the 1950s, describing the fate of children of political prisoners, have received two awards at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival (NYIIFVF), producer Zuzana Drazilova told CTK Friday. Four documentaries received the audience award for international film and the award for the best international historical documentary. In April, the documentaries won the main prizes in their categories at the international festival Worldfest in Houston, Texas. The first part of the seven-episode cycle, shot by students of the Prague film school FAMU, is devoted to the daughters of political prisoners. Now another seven episodes will focus on sons of of political prisoners. The documentary Dasa is the story of Dagmar Stachova whose parents were detained for helping an anti-Communist resistance member and were jailed for many years. In the documentary To My Father, Miroslava Bockova still lives in the house in which her father was detained. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Before, the German Gestapo imprisoned him during World War Two. She was four at the time of his arrest. One Life is a story of Ludmila Voriskova, a daughter of Rudolf Vorisek, a Christian intellectual, translator and publisher. In 1952, he was sentenced to eleven years in prison for treason. At the time, his daughter was five. The documentary I Am Not Afraid to Speak is devoted to Margita Zimanova whose father was executed for helping a relative to escape abroad in 1953. Her mother was given a life sentence for the same reason and only released from prison after serving seven years.

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You might also want to read this article: http://www.radio.cz/en/article/129805

The new Society for Romanian Studies website is up and running! Wednesday, Sep 1 2010 

The Society for Romanian Studies is pleased to announce that its new website is now up and running. Check it out and change your browser bookmark to http://www.society4romanianstudies.org/.