(Proof Positive 2x)
| Ion Cioaba, 62, of Romania, Self-Styled King of All Gypsies|
By ROBERT MCG. THOMAS JR.
Published: February 27, 1997
Ion Cioaba, who proclaimed himself King of All Gypsies Everywhere but wielded most of his meager influence as a political gadfly in his native Romania, died on Sunday at a hospital in Bucharest. He was 62 and reportedly died of a heart attack.
A native of Sibiu, in Transylvania, Mr. Cioaba (pronounced CHAH-ba) was by his own account elected a bulibasha, or Gypsy chief, at the age of 16. And as a wealthy coppersmith who served as president of the Union of Nomadic Metalworking Gypsies, he became a recognized Gypsy leader, one who agitated so much for Gypsy rights during the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu that in 1986 he was jailed and tortured over what he insisted were fabricated charges of cheating the Government on a copper contract.
Mr. Cioaba's world opened up considerably after December 1989, when an uprising toppled the Ceausescu regime, and he served on the Provisional National Council, later becoming a political ally of President Ion Iliescu.
Eventually he began calling himself King of the Gypsies, but it was not until September 1992 that he had a solid gold, 13-pound crown placed on his head at a coronation that attracted 5,000 followers and the sometimes bemused attention of the Romanian press. The title had no basis in law, and so little basis in fact that a few months later a rival declared himself Emperor of All the Gypsies.
Even so, Mr. Cioaba, a portly man who usually shunned traditional Gypsy costumes in favor of a blue business suit, became an outspoken advocate for Gypsy rights, although rarely with much success. For example, he demanded that Germany stop the deportation of Gypsies to Romania and he sought reparations for the thousands of Gypsies who died in the Holocaust.
He did somewhat better in developing the trappings of power, generally arriving at meetings with Government officials in a motorcade of Cadillacs and Mercedes-Benzes.
While some Gypsy leaders dismissed him as a buffoon, Mr. Cioaba was often eloquent in representing the interests of a much-maligned and widely despised people, who traced their ancestry to northern India and got their name from a medieval misconception that they came from Egypt. Mr. Cioaba preferred the name Rom or Roma, a corruption of Dom, their original Indian caste.
Although President Iliescu granted him some favors over the years, Mr. Cioaba could make little headway in a country whose 23 million inhabitants include only 400,000 Gypsies (according to the census), or 2 million (by Mr. Cioaba's reckoning).
Indeed, by some measures the Gypsy population did better under the dictatorship because Mr. Ceausescu suppressed a separate Gypsy culture and forced Gypsy children to go to school, a requirement his successors have been lax in enforcing.
Mr. Cioaba, realizing he was a king without a kingdom, announced last year that he wanted to be a senator, but he and his son, Florin, who ran for separate seats, were both defeated, as was their patron, President Iliescu.
Just two weeks ago Mr. Cioaba dedicated a literacy and job-training center and a church he had had built in Sibiu, typically without first getting the approval of local authorities or the church. At the time of his death, Mr. Cioaba had traveled to Bucharest to seek the intercession of President Emil Constantinescu to prevent having the buildings razed.
In addition to his son, who is expected to succeed him, Mr. Cioaba is survived by his wife and five daughthers, including Luminitsa Mihai, who is a poet, and Lucia Radulescu, whose father-in-law is the self-proclaimed Emperor of All the Gypsies.
|He also mentioned that the Ion Cioaba, the former self-proclaimed king of the Gypsies, was a member of the Knights of Malta. Not a surprise, because probably all the major catholic noble and royal houses in Europe are. Among them are Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein, Otto von Habsburg (Bavaria; family intermarried with Thyssen-Bornemisza), King Juan Carlos, and at least several members of royal house of Belgium. It's interesting to note that many Knights of Malta can be found in the top tiers of the international intelligence world.|
Romanian Wikipedia confirming Ion Cioaba as a SMOM member: