An appeal

We, the members of the Romanian PEN Center, inform our colleagues from other countries and especially the members of the PEN Center in Ukraine of the persecutions and the intimidation acts to which the Cultural Society “Mihai Eminescu” in Cernowitz (grouping the Romanians in Bucovina) and its periodical “Plai Romanesc” have been subject to.
Bucovina has been inhabited by a predominantly Romanian population, including the period when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (between 1775 and 1918). Since 1918 till 1940, Bucovina was integrated within the Romanian borders. The local spiritual life developed in time according to the notions of a cultural common sense, all the ethnic groups – Romanian, Ukrainian, German, Hebrew – joining in a truly civilized co-habitation.
In 1940, in the aftermath of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Northern Bucovina was occupied by the Soviet Union. After the occupation and especially after the war, there followed the well-known deportation and extermination campaigns of the local population all throughout the USSR, so that the ethnic composition was reversed, the Romanians becoming a minority.
We would have expected Ukraine, now independent (after it has itself been subjected to this denationalization campaign during the Soviet rule) to be more understanding when it comes to its own minorities.
But the Court in Cernowitz summoned to trial the periodical “Plai Romanesc”, as represented by its editor-in-chief, the poet Vasile Tarateanu, the prosecution demanding no more no less the suppression of the publication. The reason for that? Several articles about the Romanians’ spiritual unity, the anti-Jewish persecution in Ukraine, as well as a number of interviews with some Romanian personalities in which mention was made of the right the inhabitants of Northern Bucovina have to cultivate their own traditions, their own spirituality.
We ask of those able to have a say with the Ukrainian authorities to act with a view to put a stop to these gestures of intimidation. The trial has already started and all possible manifestations of the public opinion could lead to avoiding a sentence depriving the Romanian community in Northern Bucovina of the possibility to express itself in its language.

Ana Blandiana
Romanian PEN Center