European Parliament commemorates Baltic deportations

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Candles being lit in Narva's Town Hall Square in memory of those deported in March 1949. 25 March 2019. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

The European Parliament held a minute of silence to commemorate the thousands of Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians forcibly deported to Siberia in March 1949.

Latvian MEP Sandra Kaliete wrote on Twitter on Thursday that the minute of silence had been called for by MEPs from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and was being held for the first time.

President of the European Parliament David Sassoli said at Wednesday's plenary session: "Today I would like to pay tribute to the victims of the Soviet deportations. Thousands of families, the vast majority women and children, from the three Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, they were deported to Siberia and very few of them managed to come back home again and it is important to remember them together, so that such violations of human rights are never repeated again."

MEPs then stood up in the chamber and held a minute of silence.

In March 1949, more than 22,000 Estonians, and 90,000 people in total across the Baltic states, were forcefully deported to Siberia by the Soviet Union. The totalitarian regime branded innocent residents a "socially alien element", the Estonian Institute of Human Rights said.

Usually, on March 25, thousands of candles are lit in public squares across Estonia to remember those who were deported, but this year, similar to last year, people are being asked to light candles at home.

The Estonian Institute of Human Rights (link in Estonian) is asking people to post pictures of their candles on social media with the hashtag #Mäletame (we remember).

Additionally, the institute has created a light installation which can be seen in the video below.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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