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TIMISOARA, Romania – Adrian Kali remembers a two-year-old girl being shot dead in front of him twenty-five years ago to this day during Europe's last anti-communist revolution of 1989.
The history teacher was one of thousands who took to the streets in this western Romanian city in December 1989 to protest the 25-year-rule of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, fed up with food and fuel shortages and the lack of basic freedoms.
Some 93 people were killed in Timisoara, a city 500 kilometers (310 miles) west of Bucharest, where the uprising that toppled Ceausescu began Dec. 16 with a protest over the forced deportation of ethnic Hungarian priest Laszlo Toekes.
Anti-government protests spread through Romania and more than 1,100 people died during the revolt, which ended after Ceausescu and his wife were executed in a summary trial on Dec. 25. Romania has implemented democratic and economic reforms since then, but no real investigation was made into the shooting of unarmed demonstrators during the uprising because former communists retained power after 1989.
Kali, 46, was shot twice on Dec. 17 in the melee, in the shoulder and back, after going to Decebal Bridge to protest against Ceausescu. His thoughts, however, were centered on the toddler.
"She was being held by her father. They shot her across the street from the Youth Center. The bullet pierced her and exited her father," who was injured, he said. "It was premeditated murder."
Kali keeps a small packet with one of the bullets that wounded him.
"We are now much freer than we were before. We can see the world, our children can go abroad and study. Also democracy is something we gained in the revolution," he told The Associated Press. "However, other things are not solved yet. ... Who shot at us? Who killed us? Who stole our dead?"
Alison Mutler in Bucharest contributed to this report.