The day of national unity

Yesterday was the Day of National Unity (ეროვნული ერთიანობის დღე) in the Republic of Georgia. It commemorates a massacre that took place in Tbilisi on April 9 1989 when an anti-Soviet demonstration was dispersed by the Soviet Army, resulting in 20 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

Tens of thousands of people had gathered before the House of Government on Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi in peaceful demonstration, demanding the restoration of Georgian independence.

In the evening of April 8 Soviet forces were mobilized. The Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II addressed the demonstrators, warning of the danger posed by the Soviet troops and asking asking them to disperse to the safety of churches. Despite this plea the demonstrators remained

On April 9, at 3:45 a.m., Soviet troops advanced on the demonstrators.  As the troops came close, the demonstrators kept singing and dancing to show the nonviolent nature of the gathering.

Suddenly the troops began attacking the demonstrators with batons and spades.  One of the victims was a 16-year-old girl who tried to get away from the soldiers, but was chased down and beaten to death near the steps of the government building.

Gas was also used against the demonstrators.

The attack resulted in the death of 20 people, among them 17 women.

The event marked a transformation in Georgians’ mentality, which unified the nation.

A blind woman at the demonstration sang a Georgian patriotic song as the Soviet troops advanced. Her voice can be heard on a video taken at the time.

On a walk recently we saw a blind musician singing the same song and we stopped and listened and remembered the terrible tragedy that took place on April 9 1989.