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News 10 Oct 17

Albania Commemorates Communist Killing of MPs

Albania's parliament commemorated the 70th anniversary of the death of 15 MPs who were deemed opponents of the past Communist regime, despite ongoing accusations that politicians have ties to the Communist past.

Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
The MPs' trail 70 years ago. Photo: Courtesy of ATSH

Albania commemorated the 70th anniversary of the execution of 15 Albanian MPs on Tuesday. The group had dared to obstruct former dictator Enver Hoxha's plans to install a communist regime in Albania after WWII.

Commemorative activities were organised by the Authority for Information on Former Communist Police Secret Files, established in January, convened Albania's current political classes, diplomats, representatives of communism institutions and the families of those killed and prosecuted.

Political party leaders used the chance to speak about the initiatives each have been taking to condemn and encourage transparency over the communist past, while also accusing one another of maintaining ties to the communist legacy.

In a speech, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama emphasised that the painful past will continue to emerge in the present.

"The past tends to keep as hostages our present through ghosts and characters that have used democracy," he said.

The leader of opposition Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha said that he feels ashamed that the parliament today is being directed by somebody who was part of the old regime.

"This place [parliament], in a way, has [in it] people taught by Enver Hoxha," he said.

Indirectly Basha was referring to the chairman of parliament, socialist MP Gramoz Ruci who in 1990  when the communist regime had not yet fallen  held the position of minister of the interior for a few months. 

The anticommunist institution's representatives shed more light on communist methods of killing and persecution, such as fabricated accusations being levvied against political opponents and their families. 

The MPs who were executed 70 years ago were not communists. They had been educated in Western Europe and believed in Albania's need to develop a pluralistic social democratic system after the end of World War II. They were elected as independents during the December 1945 elections  the first of their kind since the Albanian National Liberation War. 

However, they swiftly ended up executed along with hundreds of other intellectuals, who also saw a big risk in the country accepting communism.

After the Communist Party won the election, the regime's secret service started a 'war' against the elements that were not trusted by the party, filling folders with details of so-called reactionary activities and accusations of US and British consipracies to overthrow the new regime installed in Tirana.

During the trial held in September 1945  later discovered to have been based on manipulated proof and testimonies – 21 intellectuals including the MPs were convicted and sentenced to execution and long prison terms.

Around one year ago, Albania also established an authority to opens the files of the communist secret police, Sigurimi. However, it is not part of this institution.

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