Collage of various notable locations in the town of Timişoara, hometown of László Tőkés
A year later he ordered Tőkés to leave Timişoara by December 15 for a small out-of-the-way parish where he couldn’t be heard. Tőkés refused. Four thugs brandishing knives broke into his flat, and Securitate forces stepped aside while the pastor and his friends fought them off. As the deadline approached, several members of the parish church began a candlelight vigil outside the Tőkés home. They were soon joined by many church members and a few of the other local citizens. By the 15th of December, a solid cordon of people surrounded his home, keeping the eviction forces at bay in a peaceful manner. The mayor of Timişoara paid a visit, but stormed away when Tőkés remained in his apartment. Students from the local universities joined the protests as the Securitate set up water cannons lest the situation get out of hand.
Demonstrators in the streets of Timişoara, December 1989
Thousands of Hungarians and Romanians filled the streets singing hymns, and then “politically incorrect” patriotic songs which had been banned by the socialist state. The crowd surged to Communist headquarters, overwhelmed the militia, destroyed the water cannons and threw the pieces in the river. The army arrived and opened fire, killing dozens of demonstrators. On December 18, tens of thousands of workers in Timişoara took to the streets peacefully, and the city fell under control of the citizens.
Demonstrators face off against tanks and police forces in the streets of Bucharest
The news swept through Romania and the world as protests broke out in every city. Even some of the Securitate forces joined the people in the streets, till the “revolution” reached Bucharest, the capital. Ceauşescu and his wife fled in a helicopter. The armed forces of Romania switched sides. The tyrant was captured, put on trial and with his wife, and executed by firing squad on Christmas day, for “economic sabotage and genocide.” Of all the dominoes of the Soviet Empire which toppled, Romania was the one country where significant violence occurred, an outcome predictable for a narcissistic and bloodthirsty socialist dictator. It all began with a pastor who would not allow the state to dictate what should be said from the pulpit, and was willing to resist the state-controlled religious hierarchy who sought to muzzle him.