Open World Conference of Workers

In Defense of Trade Union Independence & Democratic Rights

 

Update on Campaign to free Mineworker Leader Miron Cozma  

 

"I Hope I Shall Soon Be Free" Message to the June 16 ILC Conference in Geneva from Jailed Romanian Mineworker Miron Cozma


Background Information on Miron Cozma


 

International Campaign to Free Miron Cozma Begins to Have Effect on Romanian Authorities

 

The international campaign to free Miron Cozma, the militant leader of the Mineworkers Confederation of Romania who has been languishing in prison since February 1999, is beginning to have an effect on the Romanian authorities.

On March 22, Romania's Assistant Attorney General, Maria Despina Mihai, issued a statement to the press in which she stated that the authorities are considering the possibility of reopening Cozma's file. Cozma is serving an 18-year sentence for defending the jobs and workplaces of the miners of the Valley of Jiu. He was sentenced for different "crimes" related to the miners' protests that began in September 1991.

The Mediafax press agency dispatch of March 22 stated, in part:

"Consideration of an annulment of Miron Cozma's sentence will be made following a decision by the Supreme Court concerning a civil suit in which compensation is being sought for the damages incurred during the 'mining raids' of September 1991, for which Cozma was sentenced to 18 years in prison. The Court of Appeals of Bucharest decided on Sept, 11, 1999, that miner leader Miron Cozma and Lieutenant-Colonel (in reserve) Silviu Popescu must pay more than 4 billion lei (US$130,000) for damages caused by the miners and other people during the 'mineriade' of Sept. 24-27, 1999."

The press statement by the Assistant Attorney General came in response to the campaign in support of Miron Cozma initiated at the Berlin Conference last February. More than 300 trade union delegates from 51 countries signed an appeal demanding freedom for Cozma. In mid-March, Tiberiu Cozma, the mine worker's brother, presented these signatures to the offices of the Presidency and Prime Minister as well as to the Ministry of Justice. The press reported this information widely.

Ten days later, however, the Supreme Court of Romania rejected the appeal by Miron Cozma's lawyers in the civil law suit over damages.

An even stronger campaign demanding the release of Miron Cozma and a halt to the prosecutors' and police pressures against the other miner leaders is needed.

We reiterate our call to trade unionists and supporters of labor and human rights the world over to join us in demanding freedom for Miron Cozma.

Please send statements from your unions and organizations to the Romanian authorities in your countries as well as to the central authorities in Romania, at the following addresses:

Mr. Ion Iliescu
President of Romania
Palatul Cotroceni
Geniului Blvd. nr. 1
Bucharest, Romania
Fax: 011-401-312-11-79

and

Mrs. Rodica Stanoiu
Minister of Justice of Romania
Str. Apolodor 17, sector 1
Bucharest, Romania
Fax: 011-401-315-53-89

For more information, or to send copies of your letters to the Romanian authorities, please contact the Free Cozma Campaign in Bucharest at <free_cozma@yahoo.com>.

Free Cozma Campaign,
Bucharest, Romania

*****

Background Information on Miron Cozma

In September 1991, the miners of the Valley of Jiu went out on strike over wage demands. The administration of the mines answered that it was the government's responsibility to satisfy their requests.

The miners demanded to discuss with the Prime Minister Petre Roman, who refused to go to Valley of Jiu, and decided not to satisfy their claims. After an official government statement to this effect on September 24, the miners left by train toward Bucharest by train.

In the railway station of Craiova, and later in the streets of Bucharest, clashes with the police took place. The authorities wanted to keep the miners out of the public eye. Eventually, though, the miners made it to the Parliament building, where they confronted President Iliescu.

The situation compelled Prime Minister Petre Roman to offer his resignation. President Iliescu decided to accept it and to satisfy all the demands of the miners.

But in November 1996, the elections brought Petre Roman back to power, this time as president of the Senate. He vowed revenge against the miners.

In January 1997, Miron Cozma was imprisoned, charged with directing a "coup d'etat." Though an Appeals Court declared him innocent of the charge, he was still forced to serve an 18-month detention.

On January 4, 1999, the miners of the Valley of Jiu declared a strike to prevent the closing of two mines. The Minister of Industry refused to dialogue with the delegation of miners if Miron Cozma -- then president of the League of the Trade Unions of the Miners of the Valley of Jiu as well as president of the Mineworkers Confederation of Romania -- was part of the delegation. The miners refused any agreement that would jeopardize their jobs and workplaces.

After two weeks of strike, the miners left toward Bucharest. Again, all authorization to rally in the capital was denied, and again all rail and road traffic in and out of the Valley of Jiu was blocked.

The second wave of miner protests, with repeated betrayed promises and more repression by the government, led to the February 15, 1999, verdict by the Supreme Court of Justice that sentenced Cozma to 18 years in prison for the events of 1991.

 

 

 

Back to Campaigns            Back to Home