Last Friday August 23 was the anniversary of the “Baltic Way” (“Baltijos Kelias” in Lithuanian) in 1989, which has gone down in history. On that day 24 years ago about 2 million people in the Baltic States - all the way from Vilnius in Lithuania, onto Riga in Latvia and finishing in Tallinn in Estonia - joined hands to protest the infamous Molotov - Ribbentrop pact, signed fifty years earlier on August 23, 1939. This human chain in the dying days of the Soviet Union was a key event, which later led to Lithuania being the first Soviet Union country to declare independence, with the other Baltic States following a little later.
Catalonians practicing for the “Via Catalana”. Photo courtesy lrytas.lt
Now the “Baltic Way” has become an inspiration for Catalonia seeking independence from Spain. The Catalonian independence movement is planning a “Via Catalana” (meaning the “Catalan Way” in the Catalan language) on September 11, 2013, with people holding hands creating a 400km human chain from North to South along the Catalonian coast. This will be a motivating event ahead of a referendum for independence in 2014. Catalonians have openly acknowledged to have taken inspiration from the “Baltic Way” of 24 years ago and they hope that “Via Catalana” will also be a precursor of independence for Catalonia, just as the “Baltic Way” was for the Baltic States.
The “Baltic Way” in 1989.
Photo courtesy balticway.lt
The Molotov - Ribbentrop pact anniversary on August 23 is commemorated in Lithuania as Black Ribbon Day and this day is now also marked in Europe as the European Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Totalitarian Regimes. On this anniversary date this year an international exhibition on totalitarian regimes in Europe was opened in Vilnius in Tuskulėnai Peace Park with many international representatives present.
www.slic.org.au/News/news_060909.htm - The Baltic Way of 20 Years Ago Commemorated in Lithuania and Internationally