LATE JANUARY: END OF THE IDYLL
As I have indicated, the January 19 compromise resolution of the National Salvation Front County Council concerning separate schooling did not meet with undivided praise. Tensions increased.
A joint conference of the teachers of the Ilarian Papiu Lyceum and the Farkas Bolyai Lyceum was arranged by the Târgu Mureş National Salvation Front. (Let it be noted that Vatra Românească was founded officially in the hall of the Ilarian Papiu Lyceum.)
At this conference four of us represented the Front. Smaranda Enache, Chairwoman of the Cultural Committee; Attila Jakabffy, Chairman of the National Minorities Committee; András Tőkés, County Deputy Chief School Inspector (also as a teacher in the Papiu Lyceum); and myself as County Vice-President.
The meeting began with a statement by the teacher Vasile Matei, the Romanian Deputy Headmaster of the Bolyai Lyceum, who said that the teachers of Romanian nationality of the school opposed the immediate restoration of an autonomous Hungarian school.
The Papiu teachers speaking after him also attacked very sharply the County Council’s compromise resolution of January 19, which called for the restoration of separate schooling in September, not January. As County Vice-President, I was asked to speak in order to defend the corporate resolution, but I was prevented from speaking. There were such interjections as: “We don’t need a solicitor”.
Later they tried to explain that they did not let me speak because they did not know me (yet they knew that I was a solicitor). Let me note that the Romanian mob that nearly murdered the Hungarian leader Sütő in the March pogrom also testified later that they had taken part in the manhandling of unknown persons. Do the tales come from the same root to such an extent?
But returning to the schools meeting, all the Bolyai teachers left the room in protest at these scenes and our attempt at dialogue turned into a militant monologue from those remaining, opposing the restoration of the autonomous Hungarian schools, etc.
Smaranda Enache tried to influence the remaining speakers, but they became more and more vulgar and they were not willing to listen to her either. At the time, we were still unaware that displayed before us for our admiration were members of the still-secret Vatra “cultural” associations.
The Romanian engineer Emil Tîrnăveanu, as Vice-President of the Târgu Mureş Town Council of the National Salvation Front, argued for the restoration of the autonomous Hungarian-language Bolyai Lyceum, but he was shouted down. And yet this young Romanian intellectual was not a nobody. He was the only one in Târgu Mureş who dared – as early as September 1989 – to vote against the re-election of Ceauşescu at the nominating meeting for the Party Congress. Of course, in the eyes of those who are for regression, such personalities are undesirables and must be removed. After elections later that year, Emil Tîrnăveanu was shunted to the sidelines.
When a lady teacher, whose nerves seemed to be getting to her, began to speak about the Hungarians in a derogatory tone, Tőkés, Jakabffy and I left the room in protest.
Enache was forced to deliver her message after the meeting and into a video camera. We immediately sent the tape to Bucharest, believing that these deep, European thoughts that she had expressed had to be passed on to the Romanian public.
Romanian Television broadcast the declaration by Smaranda Enache after my repeated urgings over the phone (I even spoke to President Iliescu). It was at a difficult moment for the country – there had been more anti-government demonstrations. But the effect of the broadcast of the tape was stunning: passions were let loose.
The extremists not only condemned and threatened Smaranda Enache, but also her parents. At the same time, a great deal of encouraging feedback came in from all over the country, and in Timişoara demonstrations were even held in support of Smaranda Enache.