By Petraq Xhaçka
Memorie.al / The purpose of this book is to unite the help in 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 were 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 wish 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 book of memories are true, not only without any exaggeration or embellishment of them, but perhaps, I don’t know how much I was able to present the terrifying force of the events that happened in that decadent system of socialism, where there was no human feeling.
Continues from last issue
My body was now in the circle formed by these four “hawks” of the communist dictatorship, who were shooting one by one, hitting me from one side to the other. When the blow sent my unprotected body in the direction of one of the investigators, he did not spare a punch or a kick to return me to where I had come from, i.e. to the previous investigator. To Rustem’s screams that he would tear off those seven skins from me, I answered with my lips swollen from the blows, that even if he took a hundred skins off me, I would not accept what I had not done and that I thought about doing it.
Tired of being spanked for hours, and furious that I was throwing away the script they were asking me to accept, they went on a rampage of a higher order. Rustemi laid me on the ground with my hands cuffed behind my back and invited his friends to kick me. They hit me without worrying if their kick hit my back, stomach or head.
They hit me with such fury that I noticed to my horror that they hated me. I had heard that people are tortured, but I thought that those who do this work do it simply because it is their work, like their work beating skins, mats, or corn on the cob. Okay, let them do the job, but why did they hate me?! I couldn’t get it out of my mind that they knew very well that I was innocent!
In the midst of these inhumane tortures, for the first time I felt my hatred for these people arise. I hated the leadership of the Party and the state, which was staging such an act, which was sacrificing high scientific cadres for the interests of individuals and clans. I hated the communist dictatorship. I hated the communist system, which, because until that day it had not stepped on my callus, unfairly, I did not bother to judge it.
After such torture, which seemed as if it would not end, two prison officers came and holding me by the arm, because I was unable to walk due to the pain in my body, they took me to my new apartment, in dungeon number 8.
When they took off my handcuffs I was completely exhausted, exhausted, swollen, blackened and bloody from the beatings, there in a corner with difficulty I saw the tin pot with the evening tea. It was impossible to eat or drink anything. I put that dinner seed in a corner so I wouldn’t stir it with my feet. In this state I just wanted to lie down to get some strength. I pulled off the stinky blanket, but now I couldn’t smell either the bad smell or the scratches I had despised earlier, and laid him on all fours on the floor. I put my hand under my head instead of the pillow and thought I was going to sleep.
My mind involuntarily went to the former resident of this cell, Xhavit Sallaku, a member of that militant family in the Tirana of War. He had been shot. They also warned me about this several times, while they were torturing me. You say they kept their word and shot me too?!
With my eyes fixed on the ceiling, I could not remove Xhavit Sallak who had passed through this dungeon. I had known him. He was from a respected Tirana family, with an outstanding contribution during the partisan war and later during the post-liberation period. Sallak who was sentenced to death, that; “I sabotaged the construction of the surrounding wall of the Oil Refinery”!
The Construction Director of the Processing Plant himself, had sabotaged?! Unbelievable! Those who have known Xhavit, can never believe that he has committed any act to the detriment of the country’s economy. It was that country under that regime, for which he and his family fought! Perhaps Sallak’s misfortune came from the fact that, when he completed his studies in Russia, he brought with him a life partner, a Soviet woman, with whom he had two daughters.
I knew the Sallaku family in my childhood, when they lived on “Rrugë e Saraçëve”, near the “New Market”. Our families had fought hard for the new ideals of freedom and democracy, for an order without oppression. Today’s was the power we wanted, our power. Xhaviti and I were senior cadres beaten by the struggles of building a new life. We had both studied in the Soviet Union. We had grown up in both alleys of Tirana…! Both of us were involved in actions against the occupier since childhood. To come to this day…!
Stuck in the claws
It must have been about nightfall. With all the terrible pains and storms of thoughts that had no relief, when I was left alone in the dungeon, after a few hours I found myself plunged into a deep sleep. And who knows when I would have woken up if I hadn’t heard the sound of the iron log on the door again. Those two policemen who had brought me to my apartment, lifted me by the arms, put the handcuffs on me again, and just like that, half asleep and almost dragging me, they took me back to the interrogation room.
There again I found the same people who were investigating me a little while ago, if the merciless beating, from now on we will decide to call it an investigation. And that’s how the investigation must have been before, for decades. This certain investigative process was nothing but an endless period of severe physical violence, inhumane torture, with different methods as the case may be, to defeat the arrested person to accept what they needed, what the state and the headquarters needed dictatorship.
This is how that terrible fate for every person who has led an honest life and demands at least a shred of respect began once again. At the same time, it seemed like a fun game for these weird night shift workers who had taken it upon themselves to get me to admit to conspiring against the state. Now I was utterly overwhelmed, and could not well distinguish their faces, nor could I even count how many attended this meeting at midnight, where, like hungry wolves, they stood before a man and made ready to tear it, to tear it to pieces.
At first they started by trying to convince me that I was on the wrong path, that head compression would be worse for me, that the only way to survive was to plead guilty and let them eat the bullet, the greats of the Political Bureau. The interrogators persistently repeated almost the same words, the same request for me to speak; “for that short member of the Bureau, who once worked in the oil sectors”, and others. They never could present me a fact to support the accusations made. More often than others, investigator Rustemi, made clearly I had only two options:
– You Xhačka, – he says, – either you will accept these and save your life, or we will flog those seven famous skins, right here in the investigator! We will kill you by our own hands and compile a medical certificate, as if you supposedly died of a heart disease. We have both the nut and the hammer in our hands, do you understand?!
These were real alternatives. I created, within a short time, the complete conviction that the investigation could do whatever it wanted and was not answerable to anyone for these crimes, because they were done with certain goals, in the service of those who had the power in leadership. He was boastful and often repeated the essence of socialist justice, which according to him was this:
– It is the most democratic in the world, because we want to punish you by firing squad. But if you behave well and accept what we say, then you only have ten years in prison!
And with great impudence, he praised these inhuman shows, in which the punishment was not based on the facts, but on the acceptance or not of what they wanted. In that terrain where lies ruled, where you couldn’t even find the most natural initial element of defense, the lawyer, where the prosecution violated the laws fourfold instead of protecting them, where the investigator was only an instrument of the dictatorship, investigator Rustemi, told me that what was the philosophy of the Albanian communist justice bodies. He emphasized to me several times that in their bodies, there was this criterion, which I had to keep in mind and draw lessons on how to act:
– The investigation will wait for the suit, – he emphasized. – The prosecutor sews that suit the way the investigator cut it, and the jury says: keep it healthy!
Lawyers, to protect the arrested in our country, did not exist in those times. They were removed many years ago by Enver Hoxha, who himself elaborates the reasoning of this shameless removal, in his so-called “works”, in the conversation with the former president of the Supreme Court, Arani Çela. The great leader of the Albanian communists justifies it with the fact that, unlike in capitalist countries, in order to protect the defendant, lawyers in our country, according to him, were not necessary, because the investigator himself, the prosecutor himself, the court itself, in communist countries, have such a level of humane and civic education that they themselves protect the prisoner. This logic was as absurd as it was inhumane. How is it possible that the one, who accuses you, kills his mind and defends?!
It is quite easy to understand that Enver Hoxha did not do this to protect the person or the truth. With this, he wanted to completely open the way for communist terror, for the bodies of the Investigation, the Prosecution and the Court, to act as they wished with blind violence against the prisoners, so that the latter, these innocent and defenseless beings, to accept the false accusations that were put before them.
The dictatorship did not need obstacles in its way of crimes. She wanted the files in her archives to be within the norms of the rule: the convicts had accepted the blame and had even begun to repent! Even when they were not yet removed, lawyers performed some almost formal duties because they were civil servants. In addition to being afraid, they were not even allowed to attend the hearings, where the defendants were interrogated.
Only, formally, at the end of the judicial process, they held a defense speech, but with all due respect to the material that the unfortunates had signed in the investigator. So a lawyer did not have personal contact with the prisoner, from whom he could learn the truth of the entire investigative process: However, no matter how small an obstacle in the boulevards of injustice and terror, the genius of the communist dictatorship, you had taken away him, the lawyer.
– The way you see it, – continued cynically the head of the district investigation, – it’s quite simple. We control the course of your life.
If you will act as we say, you will have your life forgiven. We give you the word for it. But, if you continue like you started, we’ll punch you behind some hay mill, we’ll put a bullet behind your ear and, well, we’ll die in that world!
Sometimes, waiting for an answer from me, as if to show off, he would take out his revolver, remove the magazine, take out the cartridges and count them out loud: one, two, three, four…!
It still seemed humiliating to me, to accept such accusations, for acts that I had not only not committed, but had not even thought about. It still seemed necessary to protect my dignity. They pushed me again, saying that the friends who were arrested at the same time as me, had filled up the files and had agreed to cooperate by talking and confessing everything.
The investigative team returned to torture, as before as, even more ferociously than before. One of them took the handcuffs and put them on my wrists and started to tighten the screws even harder, without worrying that my hands were getting bruised. It was a terrible torture. It was impossible not to scream in pain. I was gradually losing my senses, I was losing control over myself, but I still didn’t obey. Even going crazy from the pain, it seemed to me a sacred duty to protect my innocence, the innocent man, Petraq Xhaçka, as I had known him all my life.
This match lasted several hours, until almost dawn. They took me back to the dungeon, dragging me like a sack through the dungeon corridor. The pain in the wrists was extremely severe. They were blackened and the deep marks of the handcuffs were clearly visible on the swollen gums.
In the dungeon I felt it start to lighten up. It was a cold and wild March. A cold, damp wind blew through the glassless window that day. My body wanted a rest, even a few hours of sleep, a few quiet hours under a warm blanket, which was missing. The layer was missing, the cover was missing, and time itself was missing: again the police came, again the torture, again the rest, again the banging of the head against the wall, again the insistent demands of the interrogators and again me, clinging tightly to my silence.
These long and severe tortures, lasting fourteen to sixteen hours a day, had scarred my whole body. I couldn’t move my hands behind, so that they would handcuff me, so after a few days, at my request, they made a concession, tying my hands only in front. Later, due to my poor state of health, since the pains in my body had increased, they sent doctors from the Fier hospital to see me several times.
In other sessions that continued for several days, with the same brutal regime, they began to increase my psychological repression, trying to attack my weakness towards the family, in the hope that there would be a way to defeat me.
The chief investigator, Rustem Ajazi, began to tell me more and more often that if I did not accept, my friend Zhan, together with Hilda and Genci, would take me to some deep mountain areas, where no one would be found human feet, where they could live like animals and not look at the sun with their eyes.
– You are smart, – he tells me. – So understand the situation, that what we say, we do and no one stops us.
I looked at him with my mouth closed, hoping very much that all these were threats and that’s it.
– We – he told me one day – have the file ready, filled with what you have to say. Therefore, put logic to work, accepted them.
I glanced at the others. They nodded, that the truth was as Rustemi told it. – When you have they ready, then why bother me?! Give them to me so that I can sign them, receive the punishment and finish this job…!
Of course, they knew that I understood that this road had many formal weaknesses, because I myself had to speak, and not just mechanically, sign them were left in their arms. After this habit; “we have the files ready”, they didn’t tell me anymore.
I tried in vain to convince them, with the reason that I could not be a saboteur and an enemy, when, at the proposal of the collective and with the approval of the People’s Assembly, I wore all those decorations and work orders, for outstanding contribution, given in the field of oil and gas research and the development of the oil industry.
How now, suddenly, I became an enemy and a saboteur?! Two opposite assessments for the same period, for the same human life?! I am simply a victim of this system, for which I worked for 30 years, in the face of difficulties. Now that the time of my retirement is approaching, you want to use me like a lemon is squeezed and thrown in the trash, to find some evidence for or against, in conflicts that may be! When I presented them with these accusations and complaints, which the investigators could not find any logic to oppose, they brought into play the only logic they were really masters of: they attacked me with great ferocity, to beat me and humiliated.
In a subsequent session, I was told that Genci would be brought to me in the prison yard, which I would see through the window! They didn’t do this, but from that day, in the dungeon in front of mine, I suddenly started hearing the cries of a child, a little boy, who was asking for his mother’s help. He could clearly be heard saying with sobs:
– My, my mother…! I didn’t do anything…! But who will kiss me before I sleep…?!. Who will help you when you are sick, my mother…?! What will my sister do now?!
When I was in the dungeon, I could hear these cries for hours. I stand with my ear close to the iron door, so that I can better distinguish this child’s cry. It was Genci’s, right?! Too hard to spot correctly! The voice came muffled, from the iron walls and doors, from the dungeon opposite, and as a result, it did not seem clear to me.
I came to the conclusion that; the crying child had to be my son. Yes Yes! The expressions were exactly those that Genci always used when addressing his mother. I had not heard children around us, and perhaps in the entire area of Fier, to use the call of Korça for their mothers; “Mommy!” Second, the kiss before bed…!
It was a gesture that Zhaneta did every night with the children, before they went to sleep. Further, a sick mother was mentioned: in fact, Zhaneta, was being cured. We even, some time ago, admitted him to the hospital, in a rather serious condition…! Finally, in the tears, a sister was mentioned!
And last but not least, that child, surprisingly, never told his father! Now, when I heard these sobbing cries, I began to cry bitterly, standing for hours behind the door, to make sure even better, this was my Genci’s voice, wasn’t it?! It was a terrible torture for me. She drew me into unbearable imaginings: my son in prison, together with me, because I did not accept the charges! I imagined how Genci was also beaten there in the interrogator.
Tears flowed from my sleepless and tired eyes. I started thinking about Hilda, so lonely, without her father and brother, without any protection, in that environment, where no one spoke to her…! Memorie.al
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