Baltic States Mark Anniversary of June Deportations

Tuesday marks the 70th anniversary of the day when the Soviet authorities deported over 10,000 people from Estonia to Siberia; Estonia marks it by hoisting mourning flags and with many events, LETA/National Broadcasting reports.

These victims of the red terror will be remembered in Tallinn with the laying of wreaths at the War of Independence Victory Column and new exhibitions on Freedom Square and at the Museum of Occupations.

At midday on 14 June, the commemorative events of the day of mourning will begin at the foot of the War of Independence Victory Column in Tallinn. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of the Republic, will make a speech, and this will be followed by a prayer by Jaan Tammsalu, Provost for Tallinn of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, and a speech by Enn Tarto, Chairman of the Estonian Memento Union.

Wreaths will be laid at the War of Independence Victory Column by the President of the Republic, the President of the Riigikogu, the Prime Minister, the Chiefs of General Staff of the Defence Forces and the National Defence League, the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, a representative of Tallinn City Government, the Chairman of the Estonian Memento Union and the Chairman of the Tallinn Memento Association.

An exhibition dedicated to the deportation will be open to the general public from early morning until late in the evening on 14 June on Vabaduse Square. You can view a cattle car used on the narrow-gauge railways of the time, similar to those in which the deportees were moved to transhipment stations. On display on the square will also be a Soviet GAZ-AAA lorry manufactured in 1938 and used to remove people designated for deportation from their homes in June 1941. Electronic version of the exhibition is available on the government website.

In Tartu, a procession, a church service and two meetings will take place to commemorate the genocide and communism victims.

Events will take place in other Estonia towns as well as in the Jaani Church in St Petersburg where the Baltic states common church service takes place.

On 14 June 1941 the violent deportation of over 10,000 people from Estonia to Siberia took place. This “operation” simultaneously covered the Soviet-occupied Polish territories, Bessarabia (now Moldova), Lithuania and Latvia.

Flags are out in black funereal dress in Latvia today, and many events are being held nationwide on the Soviet Communist Genocide Victims’ Memorial Day – the 70th.

In Riga, the Association for the Politically Persecuted along with the Latvian government and the Riga City Council have organized a solemn procession from the Occupation Museum in Old Town to the Freedom Monument, where flowers will be laid. The procession gets under way at 10.40 a.m. President Zatlers is scheduled to deliver an address at the monument.

Zatlers and government officials will pay homage to the thousands of residents of Latvia, who were deported to Siberia on June 14, 1941.

Lithuanian Seimas Speaker Irena Degutiene stresses that Lithuania’s tragedy of 1941 was a tragedy of all residents of Lithuania, because people of all nationalities that lived together were subject to deportations and destruction. Such were the speaker of the Seimas’ words in her opening speech of solemn ceremony marking the Fight for Freedom. “Lithuanian tricolours with black ribbons tied to them again mark June 14 and remind us of painful experience of the nation and the state, the saddest experiences. This year, which was declared as the Year of Remembrance of Defence of Freedom and Great Losses, brings us back in thoughts not only to the great deportations of 1941 but also back to 1991 which we experienced on our own. Once again we recall in our minds and hearts January 13, first killed Lithuanian border guard Gintaras Zagunis and our customs officers who were shot down,” Degutiene said.

The speaker of the Seimas urged to recall and honour all-time victims of freedom of Lithuania: soldiers, partisans and innocent civilians who were killed, all who passed away in exile and forced emigration, all who were physically and mentally disabled by the Soviet regime during long years of occupation, and all who defended Lithuania and its land 20 years ago with their souls and bodies. “Our memories and commemorations is the best response to those who contemn the symbols of Lithuanians’ resistance to the occupant: the resistance movement, all who died in fight for the freedom and independence of the state of Lithuania,” Degutiene said. Seimas speaker reminded that during the times of press oppression, the nation, as a new generation matured, would rise for freedom uprisings every thirty year. The uprisings in the 20th century and the resistance movement have become the proof that Lithuania as a historical nation upholds and defends its right to statehood. “Unfortunately, the citizens of Lithuania of 1941 had to face a very sad destiny: they had very little time to mature together with our independent state, they underwent cruel fate. In the summer of 1941, Lithuania still had a lot of people who voluntarily took part in the freedom defense fights in order to consolidate and defend the Act of February 16. It is very sad and cruel that Lithuania lost these prominent people during the deportations, our brightest minds, hardest-working farmers. Brutality and cynicism made our intellectuals, common sense and humanity retreat to silence, they were replaced by bestial brutality, cruelty and criminal license which did not recognize any responsibility,” the Seimas speaker added. She highlighted that this Lithuanian tragedy was not only of Lithuanians, but also of people of all nationalities that lived together. By the Baltic Course