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Today’s Memory – Doina Cornea

Doina Cornea

30 May 1929, Brasov – 3 May 2018, Cluj-Napoca

Doina Cornea was a Romanian human rights activist and French language professor at Cluj University. She was notable as a dissident during the communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu.

In 1980 she published her first samizdat book, Încercarea Labirintului (The Test of the Labyrinth) by Mircea Eliade translated by her from French; then four other samizdat translations followed.

She illegally sent the first letter to Radio Free Europe in 1982, the first in a series of texts and protests against the Ceausescu regime. She saw the crisis not just a material/economic one, but also a spiritual crisis, the Romanian people „a people fed solely on slogans”, who value more material values rather than spiritual values, which she defined as the ones which „generated intelligence, ethics, culture, liberty and responsibility”.

In August 1987, she addressed an open letter to Nicolae Ceaușescu, in which she advocated reform in the higher education: greater academic freedom and university autonomy (to prevent them from being subservient to the interests of the Party), more exchanges with foreign universities, exemption from the mandatory participation in harvesting and teaching students how to think instead of just facts. During the Braşov 1987 uprising, on 18 November 1987, together with her son, Leontin Iuhaş, she spread in Cluj-Napoca 160 manifestos of solidarity with the workers who rebelled against the communist government. The following day, they were arrested by the Securitate, which held them until December 1987, when they were released following an international outcry and a documentary about Romania under Ceaușescu broadcast on French television, which included an older interview with Cornea.

Memorialul durerii – Doina Cornea

She was co-founder of the Democratic Anti-totalitarian Forum of Romania (Forumul Democrat Antitotalitar din România), as the first attempt to unify the democratic opposition to the post-communist government. This organization later transformed into the Romanian Democratic Convention (Convenția Democrată Română, CDR).

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In Romanian:

Informații despre Doina Cornea, în limba română, găsiți în articolul 30 Mai în istoria României.


Doina Cornea – Interview (August, 2004)

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