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Freedom Defenders’ Day Celebration
Lithuanian Embassy in New Delhi celebrated the Freedom Defenders’ Day on 13 January to commemorate the victims of Soviet military aggression in 1991.
An art exhibition by Lithuanian artist, Aušra Kleizaitė, titled "Freedom", was inaugurated on this occasion.
About 13 January Events. In the wee hours of 13th of January 1991, Soviet tanks crashed into a peaceful demonstration in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Their task was to disperse the crowd protecting key institutions of Independent Lithuania and overthrow the legitimately elected government. As a result, 13 civilians were killed and hundreds more got severely wounded. This demonstration of brutal force was frightening but not enough to intimidate the Lithuanian people. Armed with the Gandhian ideals of non-violent resistance, they chose to stand and confront the Soviet offensive peacefully. As the tanks were clearing their way through the crowd, thousands and thousands of new unarmed civilians were taking to the streets at the Parliament Square and the TV tower in Vilnius. Their unbreakable spirit in the face of open aggression forced the Soviet troops to retreat. This freezing winter night, which people spent kindling bonfires and singing patriotic songs to the accompaniment of roaring tanks and rattling rifles, is now remembered as the turning point of Lithuanian Independence Struggle, which ultimately led to the full liberation from the Soviet empire. It has become a tradition in Lithuania to light bonfires every year on the eve of 13th of January -- to pay respect to the victims of the Soviet aggression but also to relive the nation’s high spirit of that historical night. Gathered around the flame, people share memories, hot tea and meals, of which a fire-cooked stew is the most common.