By Petraq Xhaçka
Part twenty seven
Memorie.al/ The purpose of this book is to join the efforts made to present the truths and horrors of the communist dictatorship in Albania. The main purpose of the book is not to show our people or anyone else, that we oilmen have been innocent, because this has become known from publications in our press, from foreign televisions, as well as from direct meetings with the International Forum and the Albanian Human Rights. The author’s desire, is that through this story, along with other stories, fight any manifestation in any form, even moderate, that he may have to create a communist society. I think that even through this bitter personal history, the cruel, treacherous and overbearing face of Enverism will appear, that for half a century, held the knife with the tip in the chest of the Albanian people, with a pine eye, intercepting the movements for salvation from the outside, or rebellion of the people themselves, ready to push the knife to the heart, at the first movement. The events are set in the economic fields where it has appeared most strongly, such as the oil and gas industry, where I was fortunate to pour my energies, for a lifetime, and become a participant and witness in those events. All the events that are written in this memoir are true, not only without any exaggeration or embellishment, but perhaps, I don’t know how much I have been able to present the terrifying force of the events that took place in that decadent system of socialism, where no there was no human feeling.
Continues from last issue
Taking advantage of this break, I crossed the border and said: Mr. Investigator, yes you can, come sit here next to me and let’s talk. So, in vain to pass the time, because I got tired of what I am writing and rewriting every day. – “Yes, talk to me, this is how we are. Why should I come there? In response to this I said: – Where you are sitting, you are a Behari investigator, while here you will simply be a Behari! He became curious and agreed. He took a chair, came closer and sat in front of me. – Maybe it occurred to you, – I started, – but why don’t you work to defend a dissertation? Or collect material to write a book. Not now, but maybe later.
And to complete and make my idea more clear, I continued the conversation, telling him that our investigative process was very important and he could reread many of my depositions, made in hundreds of sessions we had conducted. – In case you keep them, – I told him, – you can compare them with each other and compare them with those of my colleagues. For sure, many interesting, principled and especially very attractive things will come out for a book. A skilled and intelligent investigator, such as you, will know how to draw important conclusions from the comparison of our depositions.
Investigator Behari immediately understood the morality of this care of mine. From the confrontations, which they obviously had, but which I mentioned to them on purpose, it was clear that our warehouses were scenes built not only by people who were naive in these jobs, but smelled like an hour away, which were not at all real. He had already noticed the dilettante way of elaborating them, the scandalous differences between the depositions of one arrested by the other, when it came to the same event, which both parties had accepted by order of the wood.
Upon hearing my suggestion, he stood up, took the chair, put it in its previous place, away from me, and sat down at the edge of his desk. And he told me these words, which are firmly embedded in my memory: – “Look, I understand you very well. But I believe that you also understand me very well. Eh…?! Now we continue the work”.
This phrase was the essence of everything that was happening. So he understood that I hadn’t done anything wrong, but I also had to understand that he also had nothing to do. To tell the truth, even though he frowned, I felt a relief in my soul, that he also understood this well and admitted it to me, just as indirectly, as I expressed it to him. It was the regime that dictated everything to us and we were in two very clearly defined roles.
Then, as if to build a small bridge of friendship for me, from his table, he asked me softly: – “Do you feel sorry for Ardenica”? A sob of deep gratitude came to my throat. I didn’t expect that question. That, more than a question, was a rare answer, very indirect to the real conviction of an investigator, about my innocence. And here let me tell a little about the well of Ardenica…!
Sometime before the arrest of our group, a team of geologists and geophysicists had worked and completed the design study of a deep research well for limestone, in Ardenica, Lushnje. One day, one of the authors invited me to go and look at the materials, their constructed maps and the designed well. I appreciated the invitation because it was a period of great coldness towards me. Back then, many behind my back were talking about my imminent arrest. Knowing that I was not an official guest from the directorate, I stayed for a very short time to see the material and at the end I expressed my opinion. – “Where you have designed the well, there is no structure,” I told them openly. – The well will come out negative, without capturing the object at all”!
My opinion, which was in complete contradiction to that of the authors, and which practically rejected a work of several months, was not well, received. My negative assessment spread from all four sides and, of course, had subsequently reached the ears of the investigator. In fact, this pessimistic opinion that I showed was the only truth against me that the investigators had on the table. I was asked about it on the second day and I confirmed it. In the following months, when the well was able to be drilled to a depth of nearly 3000 meters and was in accordance with the project, the investigators had the stone in hand and what they did to me! They insulted me, insulted me as a saboteur and skeptic, because I had said that; the well will come out negative.
In order to show in front of the oilmen and the whole people, how the enemies were blinded by the successes, as long as they had said that the well will not reveal oil, the government bodies managed to do idiotic actions, sending to Ardenica, a unit of the Guard of Republic, to protect the well from any unprovoked attack by hostile groups, interested in having Ardenica sabotaged. The one, who took the place of Enver Hoxha, was doing even bigger nonsense. These demonstrations with military troops around the wells were unprecedented in the history of oil in our country. This time, against a windmill in Ardenica, the Guard of the Republic was fighting!
With the psychosis of the upper reinforcement of the defense from the enemy, (imaginary, of course, that never appeared!), the Party of Labor of Albania, more or less justified the discipline “as in war”, in which it kept the people for half a century under her legs. The sending of the Guard to Ardenica was the most obvious example and since it is the latest, it was also the funniest. Not only that. For the first time, the communist authorities bowed down to the companies of the United States of America and bought powerful GM engines, so that the well could be drilled at a depth of over 5000 meters.
One day, during the investigation, Behar Selimi came alone and asked me a technical, concrete question: “When in the well before, these forms of microfauna were encountered, – and the investigator handed me a pad where he had marked them, – and now these types of microfauna are encountered, – and he gave me a second sheet, – what does this mean”?! I was surprised by the investigator’s interest in these highly technical matters, but I understood that the question came through him, directly from the specialists. I immediately asked him for a piece of paper and built two geological profiles of what situations we might be dealing with in this case. He did not remain without praising me, for this so quick solution that I gave him and then he told me that these phenomena had been encountered in the well of Ardenica, which was being drilled.
– “Can you help me, so that I understand better what can happen next”? – Behari asked me without any second thought. I sincerely expressed my concern about the problem. But I also talked to him about a possibility that the well could fall again under good conditions, therefore the drilling should not be stopped, but it should be clarified a little further down, how the data would go. From that day on, he kept me updated with the details of the well from time to time; until a point came that any further deepening of the well was futile…!
Now, the question of investigator Behar, was; I was sorry for the result of Ardenica, it was done in such a way that it left no way that the defendant’s answer would be felt and fully believed. I took a deep breath, stopped sobbing, but not the tears that I felt wet my vision. – A lot! I was so sorry!
Of course, I, as an oilman, was not happy then about this announced failure, but I had the right to ask, both the investigators and the party leaders, what would they say now about those who called them enemies and filled the prisons? Perhaps during the defense of the project, there was also another specialist who opposed it, but if my voice had been heard, it would have been good, because millions of dollars would have been saved for the country. Why didn’t those men have the courage to admit their guilt and retract all the mud they threw, saying that we wanted to sabotage that well?! I have the right to ask this time too, because this question may have been asked a thousand times in the pages of this book: Were we, or were they at the top of the dictatorship, the saboteurs and gravediggers of the economy?
Regarding the Ardenica well, one of the authors of the project, the geologist Petrit Muhameti, when he met me in Fier, after I had been released from prison, told me that they, the authors, were wrong when they did not listen to me. Then he apologized to me for signing a harsh letter, as a response against me, for an article I published in the newspaper “Rilindja Demokratike”, where I called on oil workers to vote for the new opposition party.
-“They pushed us from the State Security to write that article against you, Petraq, sorry! I, at least, apologize for myself…”! When count one of the charge, on treason and agency ties, was coming to an end, the charge of sabotage was brought before us. This document was somewhat delayed, because the group of so-called expertise was set up according to the ugly style of the investigation, after our arrest.
After several months of work, the expert group was able to devise several points that gave the idea of sabotage. More than all of them, they had underlined the violation of the orientations of the party and of the leader Enver Hoxha, for oil, drilling outside the perspective framework, and others as I have mentioned above. First, the artificiality in this process becomes clear, when we know that the arrest for sabotage was made before the actual sabotage materials were released. Like everything else here in Albania, this practice was also built from scratch.
I contradicted with facts and arguments all the few things that were raised in that kind of expertise, because they did not stand up at all. The group had violated it with big mistakes, especially in time. The group of investigators was not able to refute my arguments, which they attacked from all sides. I also requested a meeting with the expert group, but they refused.
The experts had made the mistake of introducing sabotaged wells into my activity: They were wells designed and drilled in the years 1970-75, when I did not work at the Institute at all and was not even a member of the Institute’s Scientific Council, where I had said at least one yes to those wells. In no forum had I given an opinion on their approval or not. Therefore, the question was immediately ready: how could I have sabotaged, being far from designing, approving and drilling those negative wells?! And I insisted, that even without me being around, they were still not sabotaged wells, but simply negatives, which are part of the research. I did this so that no one else would get burned for those wells now, as soon as I had the alibi that I had nothing to do with the wells.
They were absurdities that even a school child understood, that they didn’t stay, but they had entered there without killing their minds, just to fill the files for documentation as facts, because they knew that no one would deal with them. Even more absurd was the accusation about the other wells, with whom, according to them, I had stepped outside Enver Hoxha’s square. With these wells, large sums were calculated and highlighted as economic damages from this action, which even our miserable expert colleagues, had called sabotage.
– How can they be called violations and sabotage, when these wells that are now taken as arguments, were designed and drilled earlier, without these determinations being given, by the head of the Party?!- I protested. The investigators faced with this nonsense, which I easily dismissed, were forced to use their most persuasive tool, violence. They put before me the alternative, that; either I would accept these pieces of expertise, or for them, only the agency relationship, which I had already accepted, would be enough. – “This alone is enough for us, to take you to the next world,” Rustemi said flatly. Therefore, accept these and let’s end this process, this story of yours better”!
Consequently, I was forced to accept this point, as I had also accepted the first point, the recruitment by the Russians, which was also absurd and not at all characteristic of my life. It was clear that if the point of sabotage fell, the point of treason did not stand either, because treason only aimed at economic sabotage, to push for the overthrow of the government. Eventually, the entire chapter of sabotage in the oil industry was closed within a day, or even a few hours. Everything was first decided. Neither the investigation nor the state leadership did not retreat from the goal they had set for themselves. This was already abundantly clear to us and to every honest person who knows these events. Understanding the situation with no way out and the risk of blows that I could get, I said: – Combine this with the accusation of the first point, because they are the same as brother and sister!
The only opponent of their work could only be me. If I didn’t object, the prosecutor’s office would have a specialist document in hand and wouldn’t be surprised how baseless and immoral it was! They would not reveal the shallowness of their investigative friends, to show them how unprofessional their work was. Judges also could never reject the work of their colleagues from the prosecution and the investigation, because they had the orders from the same source, the file of expert specialists, they needed more physically than logically.
The lawyers were exhausted. So that, in a hall without strangers, the rights of the defendants should be protected by the defendants themselves, just as they were frozen, toothless, emaciated, living skeletons, and with backs blackened by the kicks of criminals of the investigation. But even the words of the defendants would fall on deaf ears. In our history, all these skilled men, who were paid five times better than the poor oil workers, would have a heavy stone cap on them. This story could not continue without end. We, the dictatorship, had defeated us!
When I got out of prison, as a result of democratic developments in Eastern countries and in our country, in 1991, a member of the expertise group, engineer Vangjel Jani, came to see me in Fier. In the presence of other people, he said with pain: – “Mr. Petraq, I deeply apologize that I also joined the others, signed those disgusting things. Believe me, I suffer a lot. But you know that if I opposed you, they would bring me to you. It was not fear that made me think of this danger. They themselves told me something”!
I thanked him for the honesty he showed in front of everyone. -Please forgive me! Don’t hold a grudge against me! – I can’t hold you, Vanqjel, – I said, shaking his hand. – I understand you better than these friends who listen to us. If it was out of spite, I would first keep it to myself. I admitted that they were true, more monstrosities than you admitted, but it just seems like I have an advantage, that my testimonies hurt Petraq. It’s the same! After a long marathon of about eight months, a marathon that included torture, pressure, severe stress, living in miserable and disgusting conditions, complete isolation, informational darkness for the family, we completed the deed of depositions and signed it that.
I was reading the final act and I couldn’t believe my eyes, I couldn’t believe myself and I asked: Is this me here?! After I read the letters that were sent to me, the next day I was called to the interrogation room and suddenly I saw that Mynyrin was brought there. Before, I was ordered not to raise my head, and not to look into the eyes of the one who would enter, because otherwise I would have consequences. I sat down in my usual chair, as I noticed those two meters in front of me; another chair had been added, facing the window with its back to me. They put Mynyri down there. He was told not to look back. I did not understand why they were so afraid of our vision.
This meeting was organized at the very end, to square those small inconsistencies, which the investigators had left on purpose, to organize this confrontation process, which the procedure required. So, everything was done by them with tricks and with specific goals. Thus, the impression was created that the deposits as a whole matched, but there were only a few small discrepancies, which are natural. As a result, a third person, who could read these documents, did not know that those writings were the result of hundreds and hundreds of the most different variants, which were previously submitted by us, for the same event, during the investigation. If they were left as they were deposited by us, it was obvious that everything was assembled here. It was for this reason that we did not sign what we wrote every day, full of dilettantish nonsense and fantasy. Therefore, in the investigation sessions, no prosecutor was seen to assist, as was formally contained in the laws in force.
In order to pass the queue, Enrico and I had such a meeting, in which we agreed on the “few inconsistencies” we had in the descriptions of the same events. So they sold everything carefully and the triumphant investigators gave us the final signature materials, which we put in without delay. In the final material, several organizational charts were included, of all the hostile groups that existed in oil and their connections, with some members of the party leadership. So, the materials were prepared for their immediate arrest, at any moment. Memorie.al
The next issue follows