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Remembering Victims of 1949 Deportations

A gathering to honor and remember the deportations of innocent citizens of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in March 1949 and victims from Belarus who celebrate their National Day, Friday March 25, 2016, was held at the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, DC. on Good Friday.  Speakers included representatives from the Embassies of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the Belarusan community, JBANC, and the Estonian American National Council.Photo: Boris Mironov

The moment was particularly personal to the Estonian Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Marki Tihhonova-Kreek, as she shared that her grandmother was part of the deportations and her mother was born in Siberia.  She speculated that every family in or from Estonia probably has been impacted in some way by the events of 1949 and invited us to contemplate how those dark days might hold meaning for us.  

EANC President Marju Rink-Abel took the opportunity to remind us that information about the deportations was hidden behind the Iron Curtain from public view and even now, the events are largely unknown in the West.  With today’s abundance of outlets for news and information-sharing, we need to ensure that such atrocities are exposed while they happen, are prevented or stopped if possible, and those committing them are held accountable.  

The thread running through the remarks of all the speakers was the importance of remembering the people affected by the injustices that occurred under communism.  Clear parallels were drawn between 1949 and current events in Ukraine and Syria.  The group gathered at the memorial on Good Friday stood in solidarity with those victims of today and pledged to return each year to honor those who suffered and remind us all that the suffering is not over.