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NGOs call on people to commemorate 1949 mass deportation at home

Candles lit in Tallinn in memory of the March deportation of 1949. March 25, 2019.
Candles lit in Tallinn in memory of the March deportation of 1949. March 25, 2019. Source: Anna Aureia Minev/ERR

In accordance with public health requirements, no public commemorative events marking the anniversary of the Soviet mass deportations of 1949, known as the March deportation, will be held on Wednesday. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) associated with annual commemorative events, however, are calling on the people of Estonia to light a candle in their window at home in memory of the deportees.

Social media users are requested to post photos of their candles with the hashtag #mäletame ("Let us remember" in Estonian) in order to symbolically unite people and commemorate the anniversary together despite the emergency situation.

Traditional candle-lightings in the central squares of Tallinn, Pärnu, Tartu and Narva have been called off. Beginning Tuesday, photos and videos compiled for a commemorative installation will be made available online here by the Estonian Institute of Human Rights.

On Wednesday evening, the sea-facing side of the former Patarei Prison, one of the symbols of the crimes of totalitarian regimes, will be lit up red to commemorate victims of Communism.

Members of the Memento Association will place flowers and light candles at memorials on Wednesday, if possible. Church bells will toll at noon and at 3 p.m., inviting people to remember the thousands of people who were deported to Siberia and never returned.

From March 25-28 1949, more than 22,000 people in Estonia alone, and altogether nearly 95,000 people across the Baltics, from infants to the elderly, were forced from their homes and deported to Siberia under the Soviet Operation Priboi ("Coastal Surf"). Several thousand of these deportees never made it back home.

The Memento Association, Estonian Institute of Human Rights, Estonian Institute of Historical Memory, Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom, nonprofit Tulipisar, Estonian Association of Youth Organizations, Federation of Estonian Student Unions, Tallinn Culture Department, and the Ministry of Justice call on everyone to safeguard the health of the elderly and assist them while following recommendations by the Health Board regarding at-risk groups.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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