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‘voluntary’ evictions a deceitful mechanism


background • soon after he became the conjectural mayor of Baia Mare, Catalin Chereches decided to build a wall and turn the Roma community on Horea Street into a shameful ghetto. this publicity stunt (assumed on public money) was well received by almost all romanians of non-Roma origins living in Baia Mare. • one year latter, seeking to be elected, the same mayor, campaigning on hate ticked, set up a mechanism to convince 70 Roma families living on Craica to accept to move to Cuprom on their ‘own good will’... • if he can prove, as he always promised, to ‘clean’ the city of the Romas, he will, without any other promises or efforts, be reelected...


background • while he can not publicly force the Roma out from Craica, he is using Roma self-declared leaders to intimidate, deceive and threat families into accepting to move to Cuprom • the first step was to propose to the most vulnerable of them (the poorest and the drug addicts) to accept to move to Cuprom, to ‘better’ conditions • the main argument they used in convincing them to sign was - ‘if you do not accept to move, your house will be demolished anyway and you will be left on the streets’ • to support the threats of these self-proclaimed leaders the authorities set up in motion a plan to renumber the dwellings and to hand out ‘demolition orders’, effective as of april 30.


current situation • confused, misinformed, without any legal representation and without reading what they where asked to sign (due to illiteracy), approximatively 70 families ‘voluntarily’ opted to move to Cuprom. • since than, all of them where told that once they signed there is no turning back. • with the imminent displacement of 70 families, the confusion spread to whole community - ‘are they going to take us all?’, ‘when do we have to go as well?’, ‘I have to go now to get a better room’, ‘what will happen to us after Cuprom?’


debate • a fake debate was announced by the mayor and carried out on may 4, 2012. • during the so called debate, a long list of Roma wrong-doing where presented as reasons for moving them out from areas like Craica, Pirita, Ferneziu, etc... • the presented permanent relocation alternatives where simply words in a presentation - nothing clear or actionable... • the temporarily relocation alternative (Cuprom) was barely mentioned • the few Roma representatives (present till the end) didn’t asked any questions - they all claimed later that they where threaten not to speak...


debate • during the meeting the mayor reiterated that no one is forced to move against their will. • contrary to what he was saying the Roma ‘leader’ implied that the 70 families will have to move once they signed. • in support to his statement, Bogdan Gavra (city-hall) presented the dossier containing people’s signatures. • ‘Pise’ - the informal Roma leader was in full support of the mayor, and did everything in his power to shut me up.


my actions • I explained to as many Roma families as I could visit that the temporarily relocation is not mandatory • more that that, I stated that their acceptance to move will: • endanger their own future status as well as the community status (it will be easier for the mayor to evict them from Cuprom since the buildings’s legal status is uncertain) • diminish if not cripple their negotiation power • give Chereches the city-hall for another 4 years. • I told everyone present at the ‘fake’ consultation about the state of confusion among people on Craica


post ‘fake’ debate • following the ‘debate’, the Roma self-proclaimed leaders payed a visit to the community on May 6 and told people that if they accept to move to Cuprom they will be given individual land plots to build their own houses. those that will refuse to move will not receive such plots...


the mayor-Roma leader conflict • on June 1, the mayor entered Craica, for the first time, without the help of the local leaders...he threatened the Roma people and personally conducted the first demolitions. • I was on the phone with 2 families and I told them to refuse to move if this is what they want...facing their opposition, the authorities had to step back and let them be...


the criminal act • out of negligence, if not deliberate, the mayor gave the order for the Roma people to be moved in the second building at Cuprom • this building, a former laboratory, was not prepared for living conditions, thus, at first, infringing the right to adequate housing • by failing to dispose of the existing chemicals present on the premises on all levels (basement and rooms), the authorities endangered the life of the new tenants.


the cover-up • sunday, the mother of the mayor, accompanied by the local police visited the laboratory. • the local police, in the presence of Bogdan Gavra and Viorica Chereches, decided to clean the basement with the help of the Roma people • people without proper equipment had to carry all sorts of containers from the basement of the laboratory • for a while, all containers where stored in a auxiliary building next to the main entrance of Cuprom • in exchange for their help to clean the basement, Roma people, under the supervision of the local police, where aloud to collect the scrap metal in the basement


the cover-up • according to Roma people working at DRUSAL, all the containers where dumped on the city dumpster • while claiming that the incident was caused by pepper spray, or by the fresh painting on the walls (none of the walls have been painted prior to the incident) the local authorities ordered the bricking of the windows of the basement and all connecting spaces between the basement and each floor. • fearing that residues from the chemicals might still be present in the laboratory walls, the cleanup continued with the scrapping and repainting of the walls.


recent learnings • Initially, a number of families were given contracts that complied with the original promises of the mayor that the families will be able to use the new “accommodation” for three years and without being obliged to pay for utilities such as electricity and water. This was supposedly based on a recognition by the municipality of the social disadvantage and poverty experienced by the families living in the Craica settlement. • However, only two months after the relocation, the municipality replaced these signed contracts with new ones that entitle the tenants to stay in the premises for only one year. Moreover, they are now obliged to pay rent and the failure to comply with this obligation may result in an eviction. In addition, the families interviewed by Amnesty International, based on the actions of the municipality to date, fear that it will also start charging them for utilities. Given their extremely low income it is clear that many of the Roma families will not be able to cover such costs.


Roma people on Craica


Cuprom ‘adequate’ living conditions

home sweet home


Cuprom - ‘adequate’ living conditions


Cuprom - ‘adequate’ living conditions


Cuprom - ‘adequate’ living conditions


Cuprom - ‘adequate’ living conditions


a ‘carrying’ mother and her personal police force

visiting the ‘toxic’ laboratory


while you could barely breath, Viorica Chereches, without any legal capacity, was inspecting the premises.


operation cover-up

staring Bogdan Gavra


the basement

during cleanup


the basement - before and after


by sheer luck, the two local police oďŹƒcers guarding the basement allowed me to enter for 2 minutes...


on the left - the room where the Roma people where gathering the scrap metal after they removed the chemicals


bricking the connections to the basement

at this point, local police ordered me out


bricking the connections to the basement


take a stand, now...


craica