Singing Revolution

Most people don’t think about singing when thinking about revolutions. But in Estonia song was the weapon of choice when, between 1987 and 1991, Estonians wanted to end decades of Soviet occupation.
The Singing Revolution is the name given to the step-by-step process that led to the re-establishment of Estonian independence in 1991.
This was a non-violent revolution that overthrew a very violent occupation. It was called the Singing Revolution because of the role singing played in the protests of the mid-1980s.
But singing had always been a major unifying force for Estonians while they endured fifty years of Soviet rule. The Singing Revolution lasted over four years, with various protests and acts of defiance. In 1991, as Soviet tanks attempted to stop the progress towards independence, the Supreme Soviet of Estonia together with the Congress of Estonia proclaimed the restoration of the independent state of Estonia and repudiated Soviet legislation.
People acted as human shields to protect radio and TV stations from the Soviet tanks. Through these actions, Estonia regained its independence without any bloodshed. Independence was declared on the late evening of 20 August 1991, after an agreement between different political parties was reached.
The next morning Soviet troops, according to Estonian TV, attempted to storm Tallinn TV Tower but were unsuccessful. On 22 August 1991, Iceland became the first nation to recognize the newly restored independence of Estonia.
Today, a plaque commemorating this event is situated on the outside wall of the Foreign Ministry. The plaque reads; “The Republic of Iceland was the first to recognize, on 22 August 1991, the restoration of the independence of the Republic of Estonia,” in Estonian, Icelandic and English.

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