Ceausescu’s children

 

 

romanian orphans

 

The Romanian dictator had plans to increase Romanian population drastically to support its grandiose, Stalinist idea in making the country strong in both industrial and manpower finesse. After the 1989 revolution and the subsequent execution, however, the dream was in tatters. Hundreds of thousands of Romanian children were left poor, starving, physically disabled, and in limbo.

After 25 years, some of them start to tell their stories of what happens afterwards. Read the full article in The Guardian.

 

Excerpt:

 

When he came to power in 1966, Ceaușescu had grand plans for Romania. The country had industrialised late, after the second world war, and its birthrate was low. Ceaușescu borrowed the 1930s Stalinist dogma that population growth would fuel economic growth and fused this idea with the conservatism of his rural childhood. In the first year of his rule, his government issued Decree 770, which outlawed abortion for women under 40 with fewer than four children. “The foetus is the property of the entire society,” Ceaușescu announced. “Anyone who avoids having children is a deserter who abandons the laws of national continuity.”

The birth rate soon doubled, but then the rate of increase slowed as Romanian women resorted to homemade illegal abortions, often with catastrophic results. In 1977 all childless persons, regardless of sex or martial status, were made to pay an additional monthly tax. In the 1980s condoms and the pill, although prohibitively expensive, began to become available in Romania – so they were banned altogether. Motherhood became a state duty. The system was ruthlessly enforced by the secret police, the securitate. Doctors who performed abortions were imprisoned, women were examined every three months in their workplaces for signs of pregnancy. If they were found to be pregnant and didn’t subsequently give birth, they could face prosecution. Fertility had become an instrument of state control.

This policy, coupled with Romania’s poverty, meant that more and more unwanted children were abandoned to state care. No one knows how many. Estimates for the number of children in orphanages in 1989 start at 100,000 and go up from there. Since the second world war, there had been a system of state institutions for children. But after 1982, when Ceaușescu redirected most of the budget to paying off the national debt, the economy tanked and conditions in the orphanages suffered. Electricity and heat were often intermittent, there were not enough staff, there was not enough food. Physical needs were assessed, emotional needs were ignored. Doctors and professionals were denied access to foreign periodicals and research, nurses were woefully undertrained (many orphans contracted HIV because hypodermic needles were seldom sterilised) and developmental delays were routinely diagnosed as mental disability. Institutional abuse flourished unchecked. While some caretakers did their best, others stole food from the orphanage kitchens and drugged their charges into docility.

The CIA torture report

The Guardian - A global network for CIA torture

 

The latest CIA report released in US Senate today brings shockwave to international communities and governments. Spanning over a decade since 911 tragedy, US government has launched numerous attacks, raids, strikes, bombings, and invasions across countries it targets as ‘perilous for global order’. But the report released today brings the atrocities associated with the superpower into an even more Middle Age-esque, gruesome reality: physical, psychological, and mental torture towards either terrorists or, most ironically, ‘suspected terrorists’ – they may possibly be only political opponents of authoritarian regimes supported by US government.

The torture techniques are indescribably dehumanizing, brutal, and excruciating: while waterboarding – an idea by George W. Bush – has been often used, others are more terrifying: rectal rehydration (feeding through enema instead of mouth), arms shackled above their heads, chained to a wall, sleep deprivation over one week, and even torturing and murdering their families, who may be innocent and unbeknownst of their members’ wrongdoing.

Worse: it is not just US government that solely does the torture itself. Over 56 countries and regions – the list which surprisingly also includes Hong Kong – have participated, either directly or indirectly, in CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. Even US’ vocal (or not so vocal) opponents like Iran and Malaysia indirectly assist in transferring terrorists to CIA for their torture activities. Tragedy that seemingly repeats itself.

And Obama’s administration has not even fulfilled the promise of ‘closing Guantanamo Bay prison’.

 

Download the 216-page report released by Open Society Foundations to know more in details about CIA torture program.

Bonus: an article in The Guardian – one in a series of stories related to CIA torture program.