On this day victims of the Soviet military aggression of 1991 are commemorated.
The candle, as symbol of the memory, today is lit across Lithuania and by the Lithuanian communities abroad.
On 13 January 1991 armoured Soviet forces drove through peaceful crowd which gathered to protect the symbol of Lithuania’s independence – the Vilnius TV Tower. Soviet tanks crushed the victims and shot them to death. 14 innocent people died and more than 500 unarmed civilians were injured.
Lithuania had re-established independence in 1990. At the beginning of 1991, Moscow requested the restoration of the Soviet constitution. Moscow also expected that Lithuania would give up its independence. On January 13, 1991, Soviet forces tried to regain power but they failed. After these terrible days, referendum was held in which the population confirmed that they wanted to be independent from the Soviet Union. Moscow did not recognize the referendum. However, it was recognized worldwide after a failed coup attempt by communist hardliners in Moscow in August of 1991.
Photo: Wikipedia, A man with a Lithuanian flag in front of a Soviet tank.
Text: Lietuvos ambasada Nyderlanduose/Embassy of Lithuania in the Netherlands, DW and Communications-Unlimited.nl