Latvian Diaspora ambassador Elita Gavele
Address to Australian Latvians on 14th June, 2021

Dear fellow countrymen in far-away Australia,

On 14 June, eighty years passed since the time of one of the most tragic, bleak and depressing days in the history of the Latvian people, when tens of thousands of people from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were brutally and forcibly sent away to Siberia and other remote and barren parts of northern Russia. This is the day when the Soviet occupation authorities carried out a ruthless, thoroughly planned, prepared and premeditated crime against our people – mass deportations of civilians.

In Latvia, the 14th of June began as a quite ordinary summer morning with no ill forebodings. However, 14 June was the beginning of a long, hard and painful path toward the unknown, an unknown fate from which so many never returned.

More than 15,000 people were deported from Latvia, and only a small number managed to make it back to their homeland. Many died during the long and terrible ride in cattle wagons, many succumbed to starvation, cold and back-breaking labour.

The principal goal of Soviet repression, harassment and persecution was to break people’s will, destroy their confidence and faith in their country, their ideals, and to sow fear. To wear down their courage. These tragic days struck at the nation’s roots and impacted the destinies of every Latvian family.

If not for the horrific 14 June event, the Latvian people would definitely not be dispersed so widely across the world.
There is not one family in Latvia that would not have been affected by those tragic events. My family is no exception. For me personally, this is a time of painful memories since my father’s large family was also deported to the Omsk region on 25 March 1949.

Many decades have gone by but our memories and the pain are still alive and present. So it is that this day is remembered each year in commemorations wherever Latvians happen to be living today. In such moments, we are united in meditation and prayer. We ask that history never repeat and that our nation to be spared horrors like those that came on the night of the 14th of June on a year long ago and far away.

This year, to commemorate the events of that particular day, the names of the deported will be read across the country and worldwide as proof and evidence that we remember each and every individual who perished and became a victim of Soviet terror. Memories of our family will live forever in our hearts.