Romanian Appeals Court Returns Control of the Úz Valley Military Cemetery to the village of Sânmartin/Csíkszentmárton

A milestone was reached on October 28, 2021 in the two-year controversy surrounding authority over the Úz Valley Military Cemetery when the Bacău/Bákó Court of Appeals annulled the Dărmănești/Dormánfalva City Council’s claim to the property, thereby legally restoring the memorial site to its original, rightful owner, the village of Sânmartin/Csíkszentmárton.

In March 2019, the Dărmănești City Council arbitrarily declared the Úz Valley military cemetery its own public property. Then, in April 2019, the city carved out a Romanian section in the graveyard and erected a monument, in violation of international protocols. The memorial site is a historic cemetery where the majority of the soldiers fallen in World Wars I and II were Hungarian nationals.

The cemetery has been maintained for decades by the ethnic Hungarian majority-inhabited village of Csíkszentmárton, Harghita/Hargita County, and recently restored in 2011.

The situation escalated on June 6, 2019 when close to 1,000 ethnic Hungarians villagers formed a human chain around the cemetery, in an unsuccessful attempt to protect it from a mob of ethnic Romanians led by the notorious Dinamo Football Club from Bucharest. The mob, however, attacked the protesters with flagpoles and torn-up fencing, also desecrating graves by smashing several wooden crosses. Our report on the events of June 6, 2019 can be read here.

In August 2019, the city of Dărmănești filed a lawsuit against the neighboring Csíkszentmárton to gain legal rights over the cemetery, which was dismissed by the Târgu Mureş Court lower court on October 6, 2020. Dărmănești appealed, and now, the Bacău Court of Appeals has dismissed their case. The court’s decision can be read, in Romanian, here.

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