Independence Restoration Day in Georgia
Independence Restoration Day, also known as the Day of National Unity, is a public holiday that’s observed annually on April 9th in the country of Georgia. It commemorates the Tbilisi Massacre—a day when an anti-Soviet demonstration of Rustaveli Avenue was violently dispersed by Soviet troops. This resulted in hundreds of people being injured and at least 20 people being killed.
On this day, community members and the families of those who were at the demonstration will pay tribute to the victims of this tragedy outside the Parliament Building in Tbilisi. This holiday also marks the restoration of Georgia’s independence—which occurred on the second anniversary of this tragedy in 1991.
The History of Independence Restoration Day In Georgia
During the 1980s, the anti-Soviet movement in Georgia had begun to take off with strikes and worker meetings occurring regularly in Tbilisi. On the 4th of April in 1989, thousands of protesters gathered before the Government House on Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi to protest Soviet rule. The Soviet authorities tried to gain control of the protests but were unable too and so on April 8, 1989, the Soviet Army was mobilized to deal with the situation.
On April 9th at 4 am, the Soviet Army attempted to put down the protests. 16 protesters were killed at the scene and 4 other protesters would die later from their injuries. Hundreds of other protesters were also injured and required medical care.
It was later proven that the Soviets used toxic chemical agents against the demonstrators and that was the main cause for the deaths. Two years after this event, on April 9, 1991, the Georgian legislature passed a declaration of independence based on the March 31st, 1991 referendum in which most Georgians voted to secede from the Soviet Union.
Observing Independence Restoration Day In Georgia
This holiday is observed with solemn events outside the Parliament Building in Tbilisi to honor the victims of this tragedy. However, that’s only the main event and smaller memorials are observed all across Georgia. Because this day is a public holiday, government buildings, schools and banks are also closed on this day to give people the day off.