31 Years Since April 9 Tragedy

31 years have passed since 9 April 1989. The April 9 tragedy (also known as Tbilisi massacre or Tbilisi tragedy) refers to the events in Tbilisi, when an anti-Soviet demonstration on central Rustaveli Avenue was dispersed by the Soviet Army, resulting in 21 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

The protesters were led by the Independence Committee of Merab Kostava, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Giorgi Chanturia, Irakli Bathiashvili and Irakli Tsereteli, who demanded the punishment of Abkhaz secessionists and restoration of Georgian independence.

Several minutes before the raid, in an effort to prevent bloodshed, the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia, Ilia II, asked the people to enter the temple and pray. The protesters, however, didn’t move. Shortly after the Patriarch’s address, the troops started approaching the Parliament building. Armed with entrenching shovels and blunt weapons, soldiers under the command of Colonel-General Radionov started brutally routing the protestors. The riot police also used chemical gas. 

Those who ultimately sacrificed their lives for Georgia's freedom are listed below, most of them women, many of them under the age of 30.

Aza Adamia, 22
Natia Bashaleishvili, 16,
Eka Bezhanishvili, 15
Nato Giorgadze, 23
Tamuna Dolidze, 28
Tina Enukidze, 70
Nino Toidze, 25
Zaira Kikvidze, 61
Manana Loladze, 33
Tamar Mamulishvili, 50
Venera Metreveli
Mamuka Nozadze, 22
Nana Samarguliani, 31
Marina Chkonia-Samarguliani, 31
Eliso Chipashvili, 25
Tamar Chovelidze, 16
Nodar Jangirashvili, 40
Mzia Jincharadze, 43
Manana Melkadze, 23
Gia Karseladze, 25

On April 10, in protest against the onslaught, Tbilisi and the rest of Georgia went out on strike and a 40-day of national mourning was declared. People brought a large number of flowers to the place of the killings to pay respect to the deceased.

On April 9, 1991, the second anniversary of the tragedy, the Supreme Council of Georgia declared Georgian sovereignty and independence from the Soviet Union based on the results of a nationwide referendum.

In the same year, one of the leaders of the protest movement Zviad Gamsakhurdia was named the first democratically elected President of Georgia.

A memorial to the victims of the tragedy was opened at the location of the crackdown on Rustaveli Avenue on November 23, 2004.

The night of April 9 remains in the history of Georgia as one of the most tragic but at the same time heroic dates, when the whole country united to fight for its independence.

April 9 is now remembered as the Day of National Unity, an annual public holiday.

On this day, all Georgians remember our heroes and once again thank them for bringing freedom and independence to the country.

By Ana Dumbadze 

09 April 2020 10:39