Need your guns in case you need to rise up against a government? Think again.
From 1987, a cycle of mass demonstrations featuring spontaneous singing eventually collected 300,000 Estonians in Tallinn to sing national songs and hymns that were strictly forbidden during the years of the Soviet occupation, as Estonian rock musicians played.
On 14 May 1988, the first expression of national feeling occurred during the Tartu Pop Music Festival. Five patriotic songs were first performed during this festival. People linked their hands together and a tradition had begun.
In June the Old Town Festival was held in Tallinn, and after the official part of the festival, the participants moved to the Song Festival Grounds and similarly started to sing patriotic songs together spontaneously.
On 11 September 1988, a massive song festival, called "Song of Estonia", was held at the Tallinn Song Festival Arena. This time nearly 300,000 people came together, more than a quarter of all Estonians. On that day political leaders were participating actively, and were for the first time insisting on the restoration of independence.
On 16 November 1988, the legislative body of Estonia issued the Estonian Sovereignty Declaration. In 1990 Estonia had been the first Soviet republic to defy the Soviet army by offering alternative service to Estonian residents scheduled to be drafted. Most Estonians, however, simply began avoiding the draft.
The Singing Revolution lasted over four years, with various protests and acts of defiance. In 1991, as Soviet tanks attempted to stop the progress towards independence, the Estonian Supreme Soviet together with the Congress of Estonia proclaimed the restoration of the independent state of Estonia and repudiated Soviet legislation. People acted as human shields to protect radio and TV stations from the Soviet tanks. Through these actions Estonia regained its independence without any bloodshed. < For the hard of seeing.
On 22 August 1991, Iceland became the first nation to recognise the newly restored independence of Estonia. Today, a plaque commemorating this event is situated on the outside wall of the Foreign Ministry, which itself is situated on Islandi Väljak 1, or "Iceland Square 1". The plaque reads; "The Republic of Iceland was the first to recognize, on 22 August 1991, the restoration of the independence of the Republic of Estonia", in Estonian, Icelandic and English.
Independence was declared on the late evening of August 20, 1991, after an agreement between different political parties was reached. The next morning Soviet troops, according to Estonian TV, attempted to storm Tallinn TV Tower but were not successful. The Communist hardliners' coup attempt failed amid mass pro-democracy demonstrations in Moscow led by Boris Yeltsin.
There's more than one way to overthrow a government. It doesn't have to be violent.