Eighty years ago, events that unfolded in the dark of night mercilessly destroyed the lives of 15 443 Latvian citizens. Our country was occupied and Soviet Union had turned its violent oppression dial to the maximum.
Latvia could no longer fulfil its sacred democratic obligation – it was unable to protect its citizen and their freedom.
Illegitimate, alien power had taken over. It craved to subdue the people of Latvia, sever family and civic ties, destroy all resistance.
More than 15 thousand people, among them statesmen, lawyers, priests and officers, civil servants and business owners, teachers, farmers and artists were executed, their families died with them. Died for serving their country and living a normal everyday life.
Number of deported persons is the best measure for the scale of atrocities committed by the Soviet Union against our people and state. However, by reading out the names of all deportees, and every displaced child, we can better understand the depth of the tragedy caused by mass deportations of 1941.
Names of 15 443 deported Latvians will be read out across Latvia today.
We each have our name. Name that resembles our uniqueness and equality. Name that is given to a living soul, a lifetime.
What would a neighbour from my parish or house across the street would become if not deported? What would he or she achieve in their lifetime? What would become of a children who had died in the cattle trucks? And how would their mothers live?
Fellow Latvians who live in cities and countryside,
Neither 1941 nor 1949 when deportations took on an even bigger scale managed to break the spirit of Latvians.
Armed resistance began right after the occupation when Latvians armed themselves for a fight that lasted until late 1950s. Non-violent resistance, however, never faded and ended only when occupation was done.
Grandparents passed the deportation stories down to their grandchildren. In people’s hearts and minds Latvia never seized to be free, which encouraged people to fight to see Latvia free again.
We are a product of both our ancestor’s pain and their immense strength.
So, today we must do whatever we can to make Latvia as resilient as possible – able to defend itself and its people at any given moment. We wholeheartedly support rules-based international order in the world. World where people have dignity, freedom, security and life are the highest values of all.
By reading out the names of everyone deported in 1941 today we are forever inscribing recollection of them into the collective memory of our nation.
Long live Latvia!