Georgia Honors the Heroes of April 9, 1989

On April 9, Georgia marks the anniversary of the 1989 massacre of Georgians by Soviet troops. On this day, Georgians traditionally pay tribute to the victims of the bloodbath, when at least 21 people were killed and hundreds injured in front of what was then the Government Palace, now the Parliament building in Tbilisi, as Soviet special forces violently broke up a peaceful pro-independence rally. The majority of the victims were women.

9 April is also the day when Georgia regained its independence. The Supreme Council of Georgia, led by Zviad Gamsakhurdia, declared the restoration of the country’s independence in 1991, exactly two years after the Soviet crackdown. The restoration of independence on April 9 was based on the Act of Independence adopted by the Democratic Republic of Georgia on May 26, 1918. The Democratic Republic of Georgia was conquered by Soviet Russia in 1921, after a 5-week war.

Today, government representatives, opposition leaders and ordinary citizens gathered at the April 9 Memorial outside Parliament to pay tribute to those who died 34 years ago.

The President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, laid a wreath at the April 9 Memorial and then hosted women from all walks of life to an event dedicated to the anniversary at the Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theatre. After her speech, she awarded a medal of honor to Nana Makharadze and Nana Malashkhia, who became unforgettable symbols of defiance and the fight for freedom, for the public during the protest rallies of April 9, 1989 and March 7-9, 2023.

“Today is a day of pain and pride. Once again, we honor the glorious memory of those heroes who shed their blood to pave the way to freedom. We express our gratitude to every citizen who, in those heroic days, determined the future not only of Georgia but also of the countries of the Soviet Union with unanimity, dedication and support,”- Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili wrote on Facebook.

“On that day, all of Georgia, united by the idea of freedom, announced to the world its decision to build an independent, democratic, European country,” he wrote stressing that “the brutality of the Soviet regime only strengthened the will of the Georgian people, strengthened our desire for independence”. According to the PM: “Our further progress towards a better Georgia should be based on such unanimity around the ideal of freedom”.

On April 9, opposition leaders paid tribute to those who sacrificed themselves in the fight against the Soviet regime.

Speaking to journalists, the chairman of “United National Movement”, Levan Khabeishvili, said that April 9 is “the most important day” because “this date was followed by the 1991 referendum and the announcement of the restoration of Georgia’s independence”.

“This day is on the one hand a tragic day, but at the same time a day of victory, a day that has brought the long-awaited freedom to the country,”- said Badri Japaridze, the leader of “Lelo” Georgia, adding that “this struggle continues. We have seen that we cannot relax for a moment, the country’s freedom is constantly threatened, unfortunately, both from within and from without”.

According to the leader of “Strategy Agmashenebeli”, Giorgi Vashadze, “on April 9, 1989, as a result of the struggle of our heroes, the Communist Party was defeated in Georgia, and on April 9, 1991, we announced the restoration of independence.” “Glory to heroes and glory to freedom!” he added.

“A united, independent, free Georgia has always been, is and will be the ideal for our people,” Anna Buchukuri, a lawmaker from the “For Georgia” party, told reporters, adding that “it is symbolic that [today] we have to fight again to protect these ideals”.

“Thirty-four years ago, Georgian society made it very clear to everyone and told itself first and foremost, that, despite decades of repression by Soviet Russia and enormous sacrifices, it had always been determined to a free country”, said Giga Bokeria, Chairman of European Georgia, adding that “today we have not yet achieved the task for which people sacrificed themselves 34 years ago”.

Ordinary citizens also spoke to journalists. “April 9 was the day of culmination of the Georgian people’s disobedience, which causing the attack of our big northern neighbor when they killed our young people and brutally dispersed us,”- said one of the citizens.

The teacher, who came to the April 9 commemoration with the students, said he still remembered “the great pain and the feeling of great pride that was there”. He said his wish was for the next generation to remember the heroes who made it possible to build today’s Georgia.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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