Anti-Regime March in Romanian City Drew 10,000 Participants PRECEDE Frankfurt
VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ Two policemen and several civilians died in a violent demonstration against harsh living conditions last week in Brasov, Romania’s second-largest city, a West German newspaper reported today.
The conservative Bonn-based Die Welt and two other West German dailies said soldiers with armored vehicles were called in to put down the protest.
Tourists arriving from Romania today and a Western diplomat who visited Brasov over the weekend said they could not confirm reports that casualties occurred and that public buildings were burned or ransacked in the unprecedented Nov. 15 protest.
The tourists, talked with The Associated Press in Vienna, said 10,000 demonstrators marched through the streets of Brasov shouting anti-regime slogans and clamoring for ″more food and heating.″
Brasov is a Transylvanian industrial city of 340,000. The protest came as people voted Sunday to elect local and county officers.
Four days earlier, as winter approached, the Bucharest government mandated tough energy-saving measures.
Romania’s president and Communist Party chief, Nicolae Ceausescu, left today for a scheduled state visit to Egypt, an indication the situation is now officially considered under control.
Another Western diplomat, reached by telephone from Vienna, told the AP on Saturday he heard reports of protests in other Romanian cities, but could provide no details.
″They (the protesters) marched from the old (medieval) part of the city through the downtown area, past the main hotels and stores to City Hall, shouting ‘We want more food 3/8’ and ‘We want more heating 3/8’ and ‘Down with Ceausuescu 3/8,’ ″ a woman told the AP at Vienna’s West Railroad Station.
The woman and other Romanian tourists interviewed said they had not heard of clashes between demonstrators and police and army units called in. All spoke on the condition of not being identified.
She said she learned details of the march from her train compartment companion, a mechanical engineer from Brasov, who got off in Budapest.
Die Welt, citing Western travelers arriving in Vienna from Romania, reported the two police deaths and those of ″a larger number of civilians.″
It said ″Shots and tear gas grenades were used to disperse the crowds, after about six hours of demonstrations.″
The Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper cited eyewitness reports on the riots, which broke out as workers from a tractor and truck factory were being marched to the polls to vote.
″When a police car tried to overtake a column of marchers, they began throwing objects at the car and shouted insults at the police. When the car stopped it was overturned,″ the newspaper said.
About 1,000 police were called in to put down the demonstration, ″and eyewitnesses reported seeing one policeman killed when he was hit in the neck by a broken bottle,″ the paper said.
Previous accounts said about 20,000 people demonstrated in Brasov and that protesters ransacked and partly burned Brasov’s city hall and looted other government buildings.
Both the Frankfurt newspaper and the independent Munich-based Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported army units with trucks and armored vehicles were used to put down the riots after police failed.
Sueddeutsche quoted witnesses as saying there was no shooting, but soldiers used guns and rifle butts and that ″several hundred (protesters) were arrested and taken away.″
The woman from the train said the engineer told her and other passengers that the column of protesters was preceded by about 500 children, followed by about 500 women and by thousands of men.
″There were police cars flanking the demonstrators and policemen were seen conversing with walkie-talkies, but they did not intervene,″ she quoted him as saying.