Dignity and Freedom Day: For Those Who Fought and Died at Maidan
On this day in 2013 protests began at Maidan in Kyiv. Ukrainians showed the world that they will no longer be repressed by any authoritarian
Ukraine marks the Day of Dignity and Freedom every year on Nov. 21.
The holiday was established in honor of the commencement on this day of two significant and fateful events in contemporary Ukrainian history – the 2004 Orange Revolution and the 2013 Revolution of Dignity.
The Day of Dignity and Freedom became a kind of successor to the Freedom Day holiday, which was celebrated in honor of the Orange Revolution on Nov. 22 from 2005 to 2011 but was later canceled.
It was on Nov. 21, 2013, when Ukrainians started to hold the first protest rallies in response to the decision of the then government to stop the country’s movement towards European integration and freeze preparations for the signing of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. The change in the legislatively enshrined priorities of Ukraine’s foreign policy triggered the indignation of Ukrainians.
It became apparent to the Ukrainian society that the country was rapidly approaching total authoritarianism with its disregard for fundamental human rights, total corruption, the arbitrariness of law enforcement agencies, repression, and terror. This is what made Ukrainians first take to the streets of Kyiv and then other cities of Ukraine.
The events unfolded rapidly and dramatically – from peaceful student gatherings to mass rallies, burning car tires, Molotov cocktails, and cobblestones that became weapons in the hands of protesters.
The most tragic thing was that this time, unlike the events of the Orange Revolution, the defense of dignity and freedom led to 106 deaths and over 2,000 people wounded. And this was only the price of three months of Euromaidan protests.
The criminal authorities led by Viktor Yanukovych resorted to a crackdown on the Ukrainians using security and police officers. The Euromaidan events were followed by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and military hostilities in Donbas resulting in thousands of killed, wounded, and displaced people.
One should also remember that the path chosen by the Ukrainian people is irreversible, albeit difficult – events that began at the Monument of Independence on the evening of Nov. 21, 2013, are still continuing.