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The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile

History

The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of Romanian Exile (IICCMER) is a government organization founded in December 2005. Formerly named the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes in Romania (IICCR), the institution was created when the governmental ruling 1724/2005 had passed. The merger in November 2009 between the latter (IICCR) and the National Institute and Memory of Romanian Exile (INMER) represents its current form.  The objectives of the Institute include, but are not limited to, investigating and identifying human rights violations and abuses during the dictatorship, providing appropriate resources for those wishing to take action in such cases and preserving the memory of the Romanian exile and of the crimes which had transpired during the regime in all former communist countries.

Between December 2005 and February 2010, Marius Oprea, the institution’s first director, managed the organization’s team. During his tenure, the institute began establishing relationships with other institutions (within the country and abroad) that held similar aims, providing access to archives that contained Romania’s recent history. Additionally, the Institute initiated archaeological investigations of the sights where victims murdered by the Securitate or those who died in communist prisons were buried. In addition to field research, in 2007 alone, the institute filed more than 200 criminal complaints against those who proved to have been actively involved in oppressive or exploitive actions. They were all rejected as the prosecution decided not to initiate criminal proceedings (NUP).

Academically, the ICCMER initiated research projects, inevitably resulting in the creation of multiple scholarly journals. The IICCMER held seminars and conferences that addressed the history of the communist regime, participated in the creation of a documentary series with Lucia Hossu-Longin (the Secretary General of the Institute) and initiated the transformation of the former prison from Râmnicu Sărat into a memorial space. In 2007 the Summer University of Râmnicu Sărat became the first academic program in Romania and Moldova focused on the study of the repressive communist system. Furthermore, the first textbook on Romanian communist history was published and the implementation of the homonym optional course was initiated in various high schools.

A substantial change in the institution’s activity took place following the Government decision of November 25th, 2009, which would lead to the merger between IICCR and the National Institute for the Memory of the Romanian Exile (INMER), led at the time by Dinu Zamfirescu. Thus, the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile (IICCMER) was created and remained under the supervision of the Prime Minister through the General Secretariat of the Government. The new institution’s missions included “the scientific investigation and identification of crimes, abuses and human rights violations throughout the communist regime in Romania, as well as alerting the competent authorities whenever a law infringement is identified and “collecting, archiving and publishing documents referring to the Romanian exile during the period 1940-1989”.

In February 2010, Ioan Stanomir (CEO) and Vladimir Tismăneanu (Chairman of the Scientific Board) comprised the IICCMER leadership team. In accordance with the new legal provisions which governed the Institute, the team stopped the exhumation of victims’ bodies and began studying the events which took place in 1990 at the Universităţii Square in Bucharest. Furthermore, the IICCMER initiated a series of seminars, the “Monica Lovinescu” public lectures, a developmental workshop for educators interested in teaching the recent history of Romania. Also, several volumes from the international academic literature on totalitarianism were translated and published. The IICCMER continued most projects established in its beginning, but also initiated new ones which raised awareness on the events of 1989 and the first post-communist year.

In May 2012, Dinu Zamfirescu became the President of the Scientific Council of the IICCMER, and in May of 2013, Andrei Muraru was appointed Executive President. During this time, the institute shifted focus to the resumption of the special investigations campaigns, along with the rehiring of Marius Oprea, and drafting and submitting new criminal complaints to the Public Prosecutor’s office for the investigation of the crimes from the former prison system. Since acknowledging the crimes of the communist regime emerged at the forefront of Romania’s jurisprudential agenda, Alexander Vişinescu, former commander of the Râmnicu Sărat prison (April 1956 – April 1963), and Ioan Ficior, former commander of the Periprava labor colony (October 1960 – September 1963) were tried in court. Additionally, the IICCMER continued its educational projects, such as summer schools & university programs, and supported young researchers by granting scholarships for postgraduate studies on the history of communism.

Since March 2014, IICCMER leadership positions transferred to Radu Preda (CEO), Cosmin Budeancă (CEO July-December 2015) and Alin Mureşan (General Director of December 2015). The new development initiatives under this new team were related to improving the transparency of the institution, both internally and to the public, by rethinking the IICCMER visual identity and continuous communication. The Institute has also diversified its activity through educational projects aiming to increase interest within the study of the communist era and to promote public awareness of the criminal and abusive nature of the totalitarian regime. As such, the IICCMER has conducted media campaigns with the Romanian National Television (TVR), PRO TV, Adevărul Daily and other televised media as part of its outreach program. It also supported the publication of new volumes of literature regarding totalitarianism. Special investigations for the exhumation of those executed by the Securitate were continued and intensified. Overall, the initial projects of the IICCMER have continued, becoming academic and cultural landmarks for the institution. IICCMER also strengthened its international reputation by participating in the main debates from the academic field among other accomplishments. The Institute is also present in major yearly events like the One World Festival, the Transylvania International Film Festival (TIFF), The Râşnov Historical Film Festival, etc. Furthermore, in the spring of 2014, the IICCMER started engaging in a broad public debate regarding the need to establish in Bucharest a Museum of Communism in Romania (MCR), a project that, alongside the memorial from the former prison in Râmnicu Sărat, is designed to help articulate and materialize coherent museum-memorial policies suitable for the horrors that took place during the dictatorship of the proletariat. The IICCMER supports all initiatives of public and / or private sectors that aim to nurture and cultivate the memory of the victims of communism and that of the anticommunist fighters within the country and in exile.