14 June is a day in Latvia on which we commemorate the victims of the communist genocide. It is a day on which the Soviet occupiers purposefully destroyed the Latvian intelligentsia, state officials, many enterprising Latvian people and their families. The aim of the occupiers was to destroy the Latvian nation and to forge it into the Soviet people.
82 years ago – in the early hours of 14 June – thousands of Latvian homes were broken into by the brutal Soviet occupation authorities. For many fathers, it was the last time they saw their children. For many children, it was the last time they could feel safe and protected.
Latvia's rebirth began with the desire not to forget and to remind the world of this transgression. On 14 June 1987, a handful of people in Latvia dared to lay flowers at the Freedom Monument and commemorate the victims of communism.
36 years have passed since then. The experience of the deportees is deeply etched in the memory of our people. The pain of Soviet repression and the wounds have been healed, but not forgotten. Latvia cherishes the memory of the victims of Soviet repression.
The deportations carried out by the Soviet authorities remind us every year of our responsibility towards previous generations. Responsibility also means the duty to tell this story of violence and inhumanity not only to ourselves but to the rest of the world.
Responsibility means not remaining silent about Russia's crimes against the Ukrainian people. Do not be silent about the afflicted civilians and deported children. Just as 83 years ago, Russia is now committing crimes against humanity in front of the whole civilised world.
It is our duty, imposed by history, to see that Russia is punished. That is why I have done everything in my power to persuade other countries of the world to try Russia before an international tribunal.
Today, I bow my head to all the victims of Soviet repression. In 1941, our country was occupied and could not protect its citizens from Soviet terror. Since then, the world has changed – we have regained our independence and can feel secure as part of the strongest military alliance – NATO.
Our responsibility is to defend our country, for whose freedom previous generations have paid such a high price.
God bless Latvia!