TALLINN - It is only together that we can stand up against the return of a totalitarian way of thinking and all-embracing cruelty and stand for the free world and society where nobody feels fear, Estonian president Kersti Kaljulaid said at a commemoration ceremony held on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Soviet mass deportations of March 1949.
"Only a democratic country which respects freedoms can appeal to the international law and justice. All that is our insurance policy," the president said. "Let us cherish our independence, democracy and civil liberties so that we can be sure that evil will never again knock on our people's doors," she said.
The minister of justice, Urmas Reinsalu, said that the March deportation was the biggest operation of terror against humanity in Estonia in the 20th century, the aim of which was to dishearten Estonia's rural population and liquidate the families of Forest Brothers and patriotically thinking people to do away with the struggle against occupiers.
"It was women, children and elderly people to a large degree that fell victim to the deportation. On the memorial plaques of this memorial the names of nearly 3,000 people are inscribed who fell victim to that operation 70 years ago and lost their lives as a result. We must remember their sufferings," Reinsalu said, speaking at the ceremony held at the Memorial to the Victims of Communism at Maarjamae, Tallinn.
"It's important for future generations to know what these people lost in those days. In order for it to be not just a fact in the history textbook, but to get the true perception of what we have now. To attach value to human rights and freedom regardless of one's ethnic background or origin. To attach value to the possibility to obtain education, more importantly, higher education in one's native language. To have respect for the sacrifice of our ancestors, who gave their utmost for Estonia," said Karel Paan, speaker on behalf of the Estonian union of student associations.
After the ceremony, four new memorial plaques with the names of victims of Communism were unveiled at the memorial, along with a plaque for missing people.