Lithuania commemorates day of Freedom Defenders annually on 13 of January to honour the 14 unarmed civilians who died to defend its recovery of independence. It has always been both poignant and celebratory event. The candle, as symbol of the memory, is lit on window’s sill across Lithuania and by the Lithuanian communities abroad. Thousands of people put a forget-me-not flower on their chest to make a statement that we accept this gift of freedom and we are thankful for the sacrifice that was made in order to grant it for us.
In 1990, Lithuania had re-established its independence. At the beginning of 1991, Moscow demanded the restoration of the Soviet constitution and that Lithuania surrender its independence. Different aggressive actions were taken by soviets, including military.
On January 11, 1991 Soviet troops stormed the Press Palace where the majority of Lithuanian newspapers had their headquarters. Then Lithuania‘s non-violent revolution started. Thousands of unarmed people gathered near the parliament, TV tower, and the Radio and Television headquarters, creating human shield for protection. One of the parliament’s defenders stated that, “The intention was not to win, because we all knew that this was impossible; the intention was to die, but by doing so to make sure that Moscow couldn’t tell any lies as they did in 1940. To make sure that the whole world knew that Lithuania was prepared to fight for her freedom. We chose truth to be our ultimate weapon.”
On January 13, 1991, pro-Kremlin forces, backed by the Soviet military, tried to seize TV tower in Vilnius, but Lithuanian protesters formed a human shield to peacefully protect it. However, 14 innocent people died and more than 700 unarmed civilians have been injured when they attacked TV tower. Soviet troops cancelled their plans to attack next target, the parliament, simply because “there was too much meat”.