Baltic Way - Protest - Human Chain

Human Chain

The chain connected the three Baltic capitals – Vilnius, Riga, and Tallinn. It ran from Vilnius along the A2 highway through Ukmergė to Panevėžys and then along the Via Baltica through Pasvalys, Bauska, Riga, Ainaži, Pärnu to Tallinn. The demonstrators peacefully linked hands for 15 minutes at 19:00 local time (16:00 GMT). Later, a number of local gatherings and protests took place. In Vilnius, about 5,000 people gathered in the Cathedral Square, holding candles and singing national songs, including Tautiška giesmė. Elsewhere, priests held masses or rang church bells. Leaders of the Estonian and Latvian Popular Fronts gathered on the border between their two republics for a symbolic funeral ceremony, in which a giant black cross was set alight. The protesters held candles and pre-war national flags decorated with black ribbons in memory of the victims of the Soviet terror: Forest Brothers, deportees to Siberia, political prisoners, and other "enemies of the people."

In Moscow's Pushkin Square, ranks of special riot police were employed when a few hundred people tried to stage a sympathy demonstration. TASS said 75 were detained for breaches of the peace, petty vandalism, and other offenses. About 13,000 demonstrated in Moldova which was also affected by the secret protocol. A demonstration was held by the Baltic émigré and German sympathizers in front of the Soviet embassy in Bonn, Germany.

Measure Estonia Latvia Lithuania
Total population (1989) 1.6M 2.7M 3.7M
Indigenous population (1959) 75% 62% 79%
Indigenous population (1989) 61% 52% 80%

Most estimates of the number of participants vary between one and two million. Reuters News reported the following day that about 700,000 Estonians and 1,000,000 Lithuanians joined the protests. The Latvian Popular Front estimated an attendance of 400,000. Prior to the event, the organisers expected an attendance of 1,500,000 out of the about 8,000,000 inhabitants of the three states. Such expectations predicted 25–30% turnout among the native population. According to the official Soviet numbers, provided by TASS, there were 300,000 participants in Estonia and nearly 500,000 in Lithuania. To make the chain physically possible, an attendance of approximately 200,000 people was required in each state. Video footage taken from airplanes and helicopters showed an almost continuous line of people across the countryside.

Read more about this topic:  Baltic Way, Protest

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Human Chain

A human chain is a form of demonstration in which people link their arms as a show of political solidarity.

The number of demonstrators involved in a human chain is often disputed; the organizers of the human chain often report higher numbers than governmental authorities.

Notable human chains, in chronological order, have included:


Date Event Location Number of participants Purpose
1983 Berkshire, England, United Kingdom 40,000 - 80,000 Protested siting of American nuclear missiles in West Germany.
May 25, 1986 Hands Across America Across United States 5,000,000 Charitable event to raise money to fight hunger.
August 23, 1989 Baltic Way Estonia; Latvia; Lithuania 2,000,000 Called for independence for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Was followed by a similar chain on August 23, 1991, with people holding candles.
January 21, 1990 Reunion Day Lviv–Kiev, Ukrainian SSR (now Ukraine) 450,000 (according to Soviet militsiya); around 3,000,000 (according to organizers) Marking the 71st anniversary of the Act Zluky, an agreement unifying the Ukrainian People's Republic and the West Ukrainian National Republic.
1997 XII World Youth Day, 1997 Paris, France 400,000 A 36 km ring surrounding Paris facing outwards, symbolically calling for peace.
16 May 1998 Jubilee 2000 Human Chain Birmingham, UK 70,000 - 100,000 The first Chain demonstration by Jubilee 2000, a coalition of church and faith groups, overseas development agencies and others at the G8 Summit in Birmingham, UK, to highlight the indebted poverty of many poor countries and the need for the G8, World Bank and IMF to act to remit that debt. The Chain surrounded Birmingham city center including the International Convention Center.
September 8, 1999 Protest against violence in East Timor Lisbon over 300,000 A 20 km ring connecting the United Nations delegation and the embassies of Russia, China, UK, France and the US in Lisbon, calling for the end of violence in East Timor.
2000 Latin American Jubilee 2000 Germany 50,000 Called for debt forgiveness for developing nations.
July 25, 2004 Israeli Chain Gush Katif (Jewish communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip, Israel), to the Western Wall, Jerusalem (90 kilometers) 130,000 (according to police); 200,000 (according to organizers) Opposing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Disengagement Plan which involves dismantling of Jewish communities and settlements of Gush Katif.
May 1, 2006 Great American Boycott New York City. (Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn Bronx) 12,000 (according to CNN ) Protesting H.R. 4437, a bill in Congress to toughen immigration checks.
February 25, 2008 Gaza Chain Gaza 20,000 Protesting Israeli blockade of Gaza
September 1, 2008 "Stop Russia" campaign Georgia 1,000,000 (according to the Georgian authorities) Protesting Russian military intervention
October 24, 2008 2009 Tamil protests in India Chennai, India 100,000 - 150,000 Protesting the violence against Tamils in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan Civil War.
December 13, 2008 "Mumbai citizens form human chain to protest attacks" Mumbai, India 60,000 Protesting Against the terror attacks that took place in Mumbai on the 26th of November 2008
January 28, 2009 2009 Tamil protests in Canada Toronto, Canada 20,000 Protesting the violence against Tamils in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan Civil War.
June 9, 2009 Green Chain, Iran's Presidential Election
2009 Iranian Election Protests
Tehran, Iran 18,000 - 30,000 In support of Mir-Hossein Mousavi
October 2, 2009 Kerala CPM,
2009 ASEAN agreement Protest
Kerala, India 3,000,000 - 4,000,000+ (30 to 40 lakh according to estimates made by organizers before the protest) Protesting against the ASEAN and New Delhi free trade agreement
February 3, 2010 Telangana JAC,
Telangana Human Chain
Andhra Pradesh, India 5,000,000 The people of Telangana formed a 500 kilometers-long human chain all along the National Highway number 7 from Adilabad on the northern most tip of the region to Alampur on the borders of Kurnool district, to press their demand for forming a separate state.

A 'human chain' may also refer to people holding on to each other in series to reach precarious spots. A young girl was rescued from a cliff in California via this method. It may also refer to people walking shoulder-to-shoulder in the event of searching for missing persons in water or on land.

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