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Romania, flag law

Last modified: 2001-08-02 by ivan marinov
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Information on the flag law

This information was provided by the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania:

12 April 1995

On the 28th of March, 1995 the Senate of the Romanian Parliament approved some amendments to the Penal Code. These amendments include Art. 236 on offenses against state insignia.

The new wording of Art. 236 as adopted by the Senate reads as follows:

Art 236. - Offenses Against State Insignia

Manifestations of any kind expressing contempt for the insignia of the Romanian state are punishable by a prison term of six months to six years.

The same punishment applies to the displaying of the flag or insignia or the playing of the national anthem of other states in public under other conditions that the ones provided for by law.

Manifestations expressing contempt for the emblems or insignia used by the authorities are punishable by a prison term of three months to one year or fine.

Art. 236'. Public defamation by any means of the Romanian country or nation shall be punished by a prison term of one to five years.

The Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania is deeply concerned about the adoption by the Senate of Art. 236 of the Penal Code since it represents an unacceptable restriction of the right to freedom of expression as enshrined in Art. 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, a document ratified by the Romanian Parliament.

The vague, unspecified wording of the provisions contained in Art. 236. gives room for an arbitrary interpretation of the legal text. For instance, neither paragraph of Art. 236. nor any other article of the Penal Code or Constitution provide for a clear understanding of the term "contempt" in legal context. In Art. 236. the object of offense, the Romanian country or nation, is too generally worded and similarly, the term of "defamation" lacks any clear definition.

The arbitrary interpretation of this vaguely worded legal text allows for the violation of the invidual rights of the Romanian citizens and endagers the independent functioning of the judiciary, which is the precise opposite of the rule of law.

The President's Office
Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania

Tamas Rumi, 6 October 1995

Blue flag on schools

Alexander Justice asked: can anyone explain the blue flags?

Protesters hoisted blue flags on school roofs, while families and Roman Catholic priests planned to begin forming human chains around schools.
The law that stipulates obligatory education in Romanian for all citizens has caused neighboring Hungary to break off negotiations on a friendship treaty with Romania.

I suppose the background story of blue flag is simple. In Hungary, when teachers of schools had strike against something new decision of the (Hungarian) government, maybe they fought for their salaries, all of teacher and people who agreed with them, used blue ribbon. Because of the simple fact, that teachers used blue ribbon, and blue flag, this thing became a symbol representing them. Therefore, if any teacher want to express his/her opinion - he/she use that.

It is interesting that blue flag appeared in Romania. It seems that Hungarians of Transylvania continue this custom.

On other hand the use of Hungarian flag is prohibited by law. So Hungarians have to find another symbol if they do not want to walk into the prison. Actually, they use white ribbon instead of red-white-green flags.

In the Abovementioned case, Hungarian schools had to be decorated with blue flags. I wonder if they used blue or white ribbons as well. These blue flags symbolizes Hungarians' opinion on the newest anti-Hungarian law of Romania. (I am not sure that this law is a milestone on the road toward Europe...)

Hungarian teachers are against a governmental decision - they use blue flags.

By the way: this blue flag should be light blue, not dark blue, but I think the meaning for latter case is same.

Tamas Rumi 24 November 1995

Revised flag law of September 1996

The parliament of Romania last week (17 September 1996) lifted the prohibition of flying foreign flags. It looks as if this is a sign of good-will to the Hungarian minority living in Transylvania. Last year the Romanian parliament prohibited the display of flags of foreign countries. This measure was generally seen as been directed against the Hungarian minority which often uses the Hungarian tricolour. Romania and Hungary signed on 16 September last in Timisoara an agreement to resolve all bilateral problems - including the minority problem.

Source: NRC Handelsblad (Rotterdam), 19 September 1996.

Jos Poels, 23 September 1996

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