On 14th of June 1941 more than 10 000 Estonian were deported to Siberia. On this day we commemorated the victims of the deportations with ‘Sea of Tears’ balloon installation on the Freedom Square in Tallinn.
The June deportation of 1941 was a crime against humanity that the authorities of the Soviet Union committed in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the territory of former Bessarabia. The Soviet Union had occupied these territories a year before. Approximately 10,000 people from Estonia, more than 15,000 people from Latvia, more than 18,000 people from Lithuania and close to 30,000 people from Moldova and parts of Bessarabia annexed to the Ukrainian SSR were deported. By that time, several waves of deportation had already hit West Ukraine and West Belorussia that the USSR had captured from Poland in the autumn of 1939.
The June deportation was an attack on people who symbolised the independence of their states in the occupied countries. Politicians and officials of local government units, policemen and servicemen, entrepreneurs and businessmen, successful farmers, some intellectuals, socialites and many others were captured together with their families. The victims were taken away from their homes with their families but before people were sent to the prison trains, family heads were separated from the women, children and elderly people. Men were arrested and sent to Gulag forced labour camps where most of them were executed or died due to the inhuman imprisonment conditions. Women, children and the elderly were forcibly resettled to the northern regions of Russia’s European part and Siberia. Many of them also died because of the hunger, cold, diseases and exhausting work. Survivors were only allowed back to their homelands in the second half of the 1950s. Many were prohibited to return to their erstwhile home and could not resettle in larger cities.
On 14 June we commemorate the innocent people who fell victim to the inhuman terror of occupying authorities.
The commemoration day was organised by the Estonian Institute of Human Rights in cooperation with Unitas, Estonian Ministry of Justice, Eesti Memento Liit and several youth organisations.
Gallery of the commemoration day can be found here.