Monday, December 2, 2013

Crisis in Pungești, Romania

At 3:30 in the morning we got a phone call that a huge number of police forces are being mobilized for an intervention to break the village resistance that has been built as a response against shale gas fracking in the region.

Camping site for the Resistance

Background of the story:

In the last couple of years there have made a large number of ground scanning and concessions by over 20 oil and gas companies, covering more than 70% of the Romanian territory. 

Concessions made by oil and gas companies
They are looking particularly for shale gas, a new form of gas extraction that could wreck havoc to the environment, especially to the ground water. This is the case for Pungesti, too, a small village in the Moldavian region of the county. When citizens have found out about this problem, they have built a small camping site, on a private property, near the place where the American oil and gas corporation, Chevron, intends to built an exploration well. Activists and villagers have stood by each other shoulders for over 2 months, preventing and delaying the building of the well. The villagers are aware of the danger involved and they don't want to risk anything. 

Furthermore, the Pungești case, among other projects, has been made an icon of the rebellion against the Romanian government, which has turned against their citizens and is trying to help the American company as much as they can, by giving them authorizations, police force, and are working to intimidate activists by fining them and continuously building files.
While the resistance was a success, and people were giving the impression that they still have power, authorities and Chevron have planned for a final push.

The Dawn Move

An impressing 3km long motorcade, made out of police force, firefighter trucks, ambulances and Chevron's construction trucks has been seen rolling on the road towards Pungești. At the site, 100 people woke up scared and alarmed by the dreadful news, and immediately they faced, as the witnesses noticed, 1000 prepared law enforcement officers.
Unarmed and unprepared, they were overshadowed, beaten up, arrested, abused and taken to the police station; among them there have been seen women and elderly people with cardiac health issues. Moreover, villagers have been chased through the nearby woods, roped and arrested. The roads have been enclosed, preventing any outsider to get close to the site, including mass-media agents, who tried numerous times to get fresh information. Media agents have tried to contact authorities but nobody was willing to answer questions.

In contrast, the police have emitted a formal press release, saying they are just making sure the law is being obeyed, the roads are cleared (even though they are the ones who blocked the road, preventing anybody to cross it, including kids who were going to school). In addition, they said that the citizens were showing a hostile behavior and the authorities lied about the number of people taken to the station.

Here are some other pictures showing the police brutality for this event:

The followin link is a video that shows the police brutality against locals. He was taken while standing on a privat property own by an other local who is also against Chevron:

Now, many of the people restrained, were released and they are accusing authorities of inhumane behavior. Citizen from around the country are gathering at this moment to protests in their towns against this violent act of brutality. At the same time, other are joining forces and are heading towards the site. The ones that have arrived have said it is nothing they can do. There are fences everywhere, police barricades and nobody is allowed to pass. The situation is desperate, not to mention that Chevron is building the gas well at this moment.

What happened today is a violation of the Constitution, violation of the freedom of speech, violation of free will and all of this with the help of the Romanian Government who is helping a foreign company to make exploration works in a place where locals don't agree. Censorship and slavery in democracy is visible when one doesn't agree with everything their Government enacts. There are no people in Romania who are supporting fracking, as this doesn't bring new workplaces nor does it brings consistent revenue to the National Treasury (only 3.5% of the value of the gas extracted), but only fear for the consequences of this controversial form of gas extraction.

Here are a few more pictures, emphasizing the beauty of the place and its people; all of them are made at the exploration site, where villagers have organized many traditional customs:

Morning Cofee

The nostalgic beauty of country fiends

Activists, helping the local resistance

Local family gathered up with no previous arrangement for this photograph

Local priest and "Razeși, old name for local peasants

Old custom of gathering around fire and singing popular songs

Local traffic
Horeses belonging to the villagers
A local priest reading ancient prayers
The exact location for the exploration well.
Razeș showing his ride skill
Local, who currently plays for The Opera of Viena, came back home to show solidarity for his people

1 comment:

  1. I am sorry to hear about what is happening in your country. Keep us posted. We have a duty to speak out whenever people suffer under corruption.