Black Ribbon Day, also known as the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism, originated in the 1980s.
Central and Eastern European refugees who were living in Canada organised a series of peaceful protests on both sides of the Iron Curtain to accentuate the rampant human rights abuses perpetrated by authorities across the Soviet bloc.
They selected August 23, the anniversary of 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany to hold the annually rallies.
On August 23, 1989, about 2 million people formed a human chain covering more than 600 kilometers across the Baltic republics.
Known as the Baltic way, this protest is in the Baltic states’ fight for independence from the Soviet Union.
As the Soviet bloc fallen apart in 1991, Black Ribbon Day demonstrations were held in as many as 56 cities worldwide.
Today, Black Ribbon Day commemorates both victims of Stalinism and Nazism and, more typically, all those who died, suffered, or died under authoritarian regimes.
In 2008, the European Parliament became the first entity to formally designate August 23 as a day of remembrance for victims of Stalinism and Nazism.
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Canada followed suit in 2009 and Georgia, in the Caucasus, one year later.
Although Black Ribbon Day is not officially marked in Ukraine, the body representing Crimean Tatars in the country, the Mejlis, embraced the annual celebration in 2011.
Crimean Tatars were among the many ethnic groups deported under Josef Stalin throughout World War II for presumably working together with Nazi Germany.
The U.S. Congress is presently studying a resolution introduced last month to adopt August 23 as a day of remembrance for those who perished under Stalinism and Nazism.
Black ribbons are viewed as a universal symbol of remembrance and have actually been extensively used to grieve tragedies.
Black ribbons, for instance, are worn to honor U.S. military soldiers made prisoner of war or listed as missing in action.
The Ribbons have been utilized to commemorate a wide range of disasters, from the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States to the 1997 death of Princess Diana in Britain or the aircraft crash over Russia that killed then-Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his spouse, and 95 others in April 2010.
More recently, they were handed to runners at the 2013 London Marathon to reveal solidarity with victims of the earlier marathon bombings in Boston, which killed 3 spectators and one police officer and wounded more than 260 others.
Black ribbons are likewise worn to raise awareness of health concerns such as cancer malignancy, eating conditions, and narcolepsy, in addition to protest against torture.