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80th Anniversary of the first mass deportation of Baltic peoples in June, 1941

Every year, around 14th June, Baltic communities all over the world commemorate mass deportations from their homelands by occupying forces of the Soviet Union to the gulags during and after World War II. In Sydney, Australians of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in descent, from many areas, near and far, gather at the Latvian Centre in Strathfield to commemorate the genocide which befell their people.

They invite members of Parliament, civic and community leaders and friends to join them on the Baltic community’s day of morning and remembrance. This year is the 80th anniversary of the first mass deportation of Baltic people by Soviet forces. During the years of Soviet Communist occupation of the Baltic states (1940–1991), some 200,000 people, including the elderly and children, were deported to remote Arctic regions of the Soviet Union such as Siberia. The deportations were without trial and without appeal. This Baltic genocide resulted from the infamous Molotov – Ribbentrop (Soviet – Nazi) Pact of 1939.

Regaining their independence in August 1991, the Baltic countries are now members of the UN, the NATO Alliance and the European Union. 2021 marks over 100 years since the declarations of independence from Russia by the three Baltic states in 1918. As well as commemorating the deportations, this occasion serves to remind us all these regimes still exist and serves as a poignant reminder that we must still remain vigilant more than ever (as currently being witnessed abroad) in protecting the human rights of all against authoritarian forces.

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