The Confession of Florin Dura
By Olimpia Filip
The story of a Florin Dura’s failure starts with the words: ”I was rejected at the officers’ school because I am Roma. I had passed the exam with the highest grade!” The young man from Sascut, in Bacau county, is a graduate of the Engineering Faculty and has a master’s degree in management at Vasile Alecsandri University in Bacău. Three years ago he was admitted as an officer to one of the General Inspectorate of the Romanian Police (GIRP) structures. He passed all the five tests with the highest grades. Six months later came the almost tragic news – he had been rejected! Without any explanation. ”If a I hadn’t been Roma, I would have been an officer of the Romanian Police” believes the young man.
Florin Dura, 27, is a Roma expert with the local authorities in Sascut. He recalls in detail how fate sent him from agony to extasy in only several minutes. ”I was an engineering student in the third year when a few officer openings for minorities were advertised. Turks, Hungarians, Germans also registered. I was the only Gypsy”, Dura explained. He did very well on all five tests. ”From the interview to the sports tests I got only the hghest grade. There was no doubt – I had the highest final grade” recalls the young man from Bacău. The man – a student and an employee of the Police within the town hall of Bacau – was looking forward to being invited to Bucharest to start the classes. Yet, nobody ever called him. Half a year later, he found the courage to go and see what had happened. ”I can still remember. I went to the place where the results had been made public and I went straight to the commander’s office. The man said it was not his business and that I should go to another boss in the Romanian Police. He explained to me where to go,” Dura added.
The cleaning lady – the first shock
Every second of that summer day of 2008 is fresh in Dura’s mind. He remembers how they told him to wait in the hall for a few minutes before being invited to the office of the person responsible for the entrance examination. “It was a long corridor, with offices on both sides. I was sitting in an armchair at the end of the corridor. I saw the cleaning lady at a distance, holding a broom. She came straight to me and said: <<Are you Mr Dura? >> <<Yes>>, I answered. <<Don’t let them go, they are thieves!>> The woman said that! I had never seen her before, and I haven’t seen her ever since. And I haven’t forgotten her words!” the young man says, still under the impression of her words. Then he entered the office of the person in harge of the entrance examination. “He was sitting at his desk and he told me very calmly that, despite my grades, I had been rejected. It was shocking that he was the same man I had left in the other corner of the city, a few minutes before. He had arrived here before me ”. Despite his determination to learn the reasons of his rejection, Dura got just a brief answer: he had failed the test of personal data check, following the examination.
„I have never understood what I did wrong”
After his failure, the man tried to turn back the time to find the reason for his rejection. He had never been fined or investigated by any disciplinary commissions. The only thing he could remember was that, one evening, he had met a fireman, one of his friends, and they had a beer in a bar in Sascut. “One beer! That was all! With a friend! I gave him a beer for my success. An hour later I went to the bathroom. There I slipped on the tiles, I tried to hold on to a tile on a wall, but the tile fell off. I went to the bar owner and offered him a 50 lei note to pay for the tile. But he didn’t want to hear about that. I was embarrassed and the following day I went to the bar and stuck the tile back to the wall myself” he said. Dura is convinced that somebody not only turned him in, but also exaggerated the whole story.
He has never been given a reason for his failure, therefore he is convinced that it is his ethnicity that should be blamed. With the cleaning lady’s words on his mind, the young man has refused to give up. He has filed dozens of complaints to the leaders of the Romanian Police and the Ministry of Administration and Interior, requesting a new analysis of his personal file, but to no avail. He sued the General Inspectorate of the Romanian Police, but he lost the case.
Paradoxically, his defeat turned into a benefit for the community. Last year, the young man set up an association which has developed numerous programs aimed to support the Roma in Bacau County. The objectives of his organizations are: combating discri-mination and human trafficking and protecting children from poor families.
Cristinel Bostan, the mayor of Sascut, considers Florin Dura the man he can rely on. He is the only employee able to put an end to the conflicts in Roma communities. Always smartly dressed, a fluent speaker of Romani, he goes from house to house and brings holidays gifts to poor families all year round. At the end of last October, he gave warm clothes and toys to poor children – in more than 80 families (author’s note) – in Sascut. The presents were the result of a partnership young Dura has signed with an Italian city.