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kiisudThere were 2 people that are known to have marched on Saturday January 21 in Estonia in solidarity with the global human rights demonstrations, which grew out of the Women's March on Washington. The first person was writer, editor and translator Hilary Bird (on the right). Born to an Estonian mother, she grew up in England and stood in the town hall square of her current hometown Tartu on Saturday, holding a sign that read "Kiisud Trumpi vastu!"

 

She was not wearing the knitted pink pussy hat seen worldwide, but what locals call a läkiläki with ear flaps, perhaps the original pussy hat...


This photo was taken on the Monday following march day. Sisters Aili (Sarapik) Vahtla and Liina Sarapik (center) hailing from Baltimore would very much have liked to join a march, any march, but instead sat in Aili's Tartu apartment and watched what was unfolding in Washington D.C. live via the internet. The trio got together a few days later and reiterated their united message: Kiisud viha vastu – Pussies against hate.


Aili works as an editor of Estonian Public Broadcasting's (ERR's) English language news portal and her visiting sister Liina is working on her Masters thesis in Music Therapy, not to mention waiting to sing at the Youth Song Celebration this summer. Hilary has compiled the "Introduction to Estonian literature", which is to be published by Indiana University this year.


ristsooJuta Ristsoo, #2 participant at the Women’s March in Tallinn

 

Soon came the news that person # 2, Juta Ristsoo from New York, now relocated to Viljandi, was on Tallinn's Freedom Square the day of, wearing a bonafide Women's March on Washington t-shirt no less (Juta’s photo on p.7).


We also marched – decided later that day that we had indeed marched (and have pics to prove it), on the ice banks lining the shore of Kopli Bay. We weren't holding any signs or wearing specific hats, but one little girl and her friend did put on quite a demonstration of moving mountains in the form of blocks of ice. Later that evening, 3 little girls gathered around my lap top, (the modern day campfire), and also watched the goings-on in DC live. They had never seen anything like it and asked a million questions. Why the pink beanies? Why is the face of the new American president everywhere? Why do those (rapping) black women seem so angry? Etc. Many of the questions were not easy to answer, in a word, to kids separated by time, distance and a knowledge of what led up to it all. But you have to start somewhere. It was a social science lesson about how history was being made.


But unfortunately, just prior, I had read the messages of disappointed people, including the owner of Kõue Manor in Estonia, artist and filmmaker Mary Jordan, who was marching in NYC and was upset that her friends were all writing and asking why and how can Estonians have a woman president and not represent?! People gathered in Stockholm, Helsinki, Riga... So why not Estonia? No one organization or group of enthusiasts took it upon themselves. People would have marched, there's no doubt. We marched in December (along with this paper's editor!), for greater protection of Estonia's forests. The crowd, including many masked as bears and flying squirrels confronted the Minister of the Environment and then marched up to Toompea. There were initiators, leaders and well-presented arguments.


Perhaps Estonian women thought it's an American thing, a Trump thing. But it's not only about Trump, it's about women's equality, it's about rights for everyone. And women here face the same obstacles as women everywhere...


All we can do is hope that if / when we feel there is a need to stand up in a united manner and move mountains (icebergs), we will not remain silent, inactive or alone due to apathy, timidness, or a lack of inspiring leaders. But wait, parents are inspiring leaders – who are we waiting for?!...

 

Photo: Sarapik, Tartu.

 

Text: Kindlam, Tallinn

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