Georgia Remembers Soviet Massacre of April 9, 1989
Georgia’s leaders, opposition politicians and ordinary citizens paid tribute today to the victims of Soviet massacre of April 9, 1989 in Tbilisi.
At least 21 people were killed outside then Government Palace (now Parliament) in Tbilisi as Soviet special forces dispersed peaceful pro-independence protesters. 16 were killed on the spot and 4 were fatally wounded, who have succumbed to their injuries in the hospital. One more citizen was shot and killed during the curfew.
“Tulips brought here today are not only for the heroes who died on April 9, these flowers also bloom for those heroes, Georgians or Ukrainians, who are fighting today for the same ideas, the same ideal, the same freedom, the same independence,” said President Salome Zurabishvili at the wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial site in front of the Parliament building in Tbilisi.
“April 9, 1989, was followed by April 9, 1991. It is an example of victory, it is the hope that every fight is always worth it, if it is a dignified fight, if it is for freedom. We must never forget that and we must stand by our Ukrainian brothers,” she stated.
President Zurabishvili also spoke of the importance of solidarity with Ukraine — presumably addressing the Georgian Dream government: “Any rift between us and Ukraine benefits the sole power, that is Russia… [We should] be in solidarity [with Ukraine], [we should be] worthy of our past and traditions…
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, accompanied by his cabinet members, also laid flowers at the memorial site.
He spoke of the April 9 in a statement on Facebook earlier during the night: “This sacrifice was not in vain. This day determined not only the future of Georgia, but also of the countries of the Soviet Union. Exactly two years later, on April 9, 1991, Georgia regained its independence lost in 1921.”
Opposition leaders also paid tribute to the victims of the Soviet massacre.
“We remember all the people who sacrificed themselves for the freedom of Georgia. But I would also like to address all those who think that peace in slavery trumps freedom…: there is no peace in slavery,” said UNM MP Khatia Dekanoidze, addressing to some of the government-aligned figures that have excessively spoke of peace to defend “don’t irritate Russia” policy amid war in Ukraine.
Badri Japaridze, the leader Lelo party, said at the wreath laying ceremony that “today is the day when we honor the people who sacrificed themselves for freedom and at the same time, we celebrate the day of restoration of our freedom…”
“The struggle for freedom continues, this struggle is now especially fierce in Ukraine, where the Ukrainian people are sacrificing themselves every day for their identity, for their state, for their freedom,” Japaridze stressed.
Journalists interviewed ordinary citizens as well. Tamar Talakhadze, a teacher who visited the memorial site with her students, said: “For us, April 9 is, of course, a day of mourning, a day of great pain, but it is also a day of victory over the treacherous empire called Russia, which continues its politics today, and not only in Georgia. ”
April 9 is also the day of restoration of Georgia’s independence. The Supreme Council of Georgia under the leadership of Zviad Gamsakhurdia declared the restoration of country’s independence (based on the declaration of independence of 1918) in 1991, exactly two years after the Soviet crackdown.
Since 1993, April 9 is commemorated in Georgia as the day of National Unity.
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