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While hundreds of women protested on International Women’s Day against Albania’s Prime Minister Sali Berisha, others joined him in a party to mark the occasion.
During the protests held in front of Berisha’s office, which was organised by the opposition, on Tuesday, Socialist MPs accused Berisha of abusing their rights.
“Today, Albanian women protest for their rights that are denied to them,” said Vasilika Hysi, a Socialist Party MP during the protest. “We protest for all the women that have to wear in black because their brothers and husbands have been killed during the demonstrations,” Hysi added.
The opposition accuses Berisha of being responsible for the death of four unarmed protesters during the January 21 rally.
The wife of one of the victims laid flowers on the doorstep of the government building, near where her husband was shot.
Only a few hundreds of meters away from the protest, Berisha gathered women supporters for a party in the Palace of Congresses, where the Albanian premier thanked women for their contributions to the country.
“Women are an endless source of sacrifice and love,” Berisha told the crowd. “Every victory and achievement has the name of the Albanian woman written on it,” he added.
Another parliamentary party and a group of NGOs have also planned their own separate rallies on Tuesday to mark March 8.
The protest of January 21 turned into a riot when several hundred anti-government protesters attacked the police barricade set up to protect the prime minister’s office, using sticks, stones and Molotov cocktails.
Police responded with tear gas, water cannons and later with live ammunition fire, leaving four dead and dozens wounded.
Prosecutors are currently investigating the murders, the organisers of the protest and the violent demonstrators who attacked the police.
According to Amnesty International, around one in three Albanian women are victims of domestic violence, but many incidents remain unreported because of fear and prejudice.
Berisha has come under fire recently for lashing out against general prosecutor Ina Rama, after she launched a probe into the death of protestors during the January 21 unrest.
Socialist leaders announce two new rallies against the government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha on March 8 and March 15.
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