Friday, 14 June 2013

Estonia Honours Victims of Soviet Deportation

Today, Estonia commemorates one of the blackest days in its history - the start of the Soviet-era mass deportations - with a number of memorial events held around the country.

On June 14, 1941, Soviet occupation forces deported over 10,000 people, mainly women and children, to Siberia in the first wave of several directly targeting the civilian population.
Public events in Tallinn will begin at the Linda Statue adjacent Toompea Castle at 12:00. There, speaker of Parliament Ene Ergma and Chairman of the Tallinn Memento Association Leo Õispuu will deliver speeches. The event will also include a  prayer by the Archbishop of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church Andres Põder and a wreath-laying ceremony. Survivors of the 1940s-era deportations, including those from local Latvian and Lithuanian communities, will be on hand.
From 13:00 to 20:00, Freedom Square will play host to an event called Kogu me Lugu (Collect our Story), which aims to gather stories and information from the families of the 1940s-era deportation victims. Organized by seven NGOs, the project invites participants to share their stories by having them recorded on video. Written documents and photos can also be scanned on-site. The stories will also be marked on a wooden map of Estonia, which will later become an exhibit at the Museum of Occupations.
The same museum will today be opening a new exhibition titled "Totalitarianism in Europe, Fascism - Nazism - Communism.
During the Soviet occupation, June 14 was recognized in the US as Baltic Freedom Day, as part of the country's policy of non-recognition of the Soviet invasion. 
Memorial events also will be taking place in Latvia, which marks June 14 as the Commemoration Day of Victims of Communist Terror, and in Lithuania, where it is called The Day of Mourning and Hope.
In Riga, a moment of silence will be held at the Skirotava and Tormkalns railway stations and wreath-laying ceremony will take place at the Freedom Monument.
Lithuanian youth will take part in the annual “Mission Siberia” project, traveling to sites in Siberia to maintain the grave sites of deportees as well as meet with ethnic Lithuanians still living there.