Romania mourns dissident Doina Cornea

The Romanian anti-communist dissident Doina Cornea has died aged 88. In dozens of public letters sent to Radio Europa Liberă she denounced the regime of dictator Ceaușescu until its collapse in 1989, and she was interrogated and beaten by the secret police for her efforts. The press pays tribute to Cornea, describing her as a courageous dissident.

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Lidové noviny (CZ) /

She refused to be enslaved by fear

Not just the Romanians have every reason to honour the memory of Doina Cornea, writes the former Czech dissident Petruška Šustrová in Lidové noviny:

“Cornea, who came from Transylvania, could never bring herself to accept the communist regime in her country. In her view it suppressed not only people's freedom, but also their spirit and consciousness. In the pieces she wrote for Radio Free Europe she called on intellectuals to overcome their fear. She herself lived as though she knew no fear. She didn't want to become its slave. ... Unfortunately, after the revolution against the Ceaușescu regime she quickly learned that many of the victors were communists themselves, and had only changed their stripes.”

Radio Europa Liberă (RO) /

Hero of a half-forgotten era

Doina Cornea was a hero in the real sense of the word, comments Radio Europa Liberă:

“Cornea risked her life by deconstructing communist propaganda and creating an x-ray image of the dictatorship - in which political attacks were an accepted institutional weapon - in letters she wrote to Europa Liberă. ... Cornea was subsequently beaten by the [former Romanian secret police] Securitate and put under house arrest. And if it hadn't been for pressure from abroad, including from journalists of this publication, she would no doubt have suffered the same fate as other political leaders who were murdered in communist prisons. ... The victims of the former system are the heroes of a half-forgotten era. Today's generation of leaders are like caricatures in comparison.”

Revista 22 (RO) /

Too little recognition for a courageous person

It's worrying that only around 400 people attended the funeral service, the weekly paper Revista 22 writes:

“It seems as if we've forgotten how life was in a country that was separated from the rest of the world by barbed wire and that shot at those who tried to flee to the free world. It seems as if the times when criticism of the regime could cost a person their freedom have been forgotten. Also forgotten are the hunger and darkness of those years. ... How else to explain why so few people came out to bid farewell to Doina Cornea? A picture that circulated on Facebook a day before her funeral is symbolic: in front of her house in Cluj there were only two flower pots and a bouquet. So this is how we honour such a courageous person, the conscience of the Romanian nation.”