Interviewed by: Marçel Hila
The first part
Memorie.al/ I were born on February 14, 1912 in Chameri and came to Albania at the age of 8. Participant in the war, as deputy commander of the “Chameria” detachment. Arrested on July 28, 1960, accused of being a foreign intelligence agent for a long time. In May 1961, his name was mentioned in the trial of Teme Sejko and 38 other people, but he did not appear as a person in the trial. From this moment, nothing is known about his fate.
Word spread that he was alive, that he had gone mad, that he had been shot, that he had hit his head on the cell wall and died. The official bodies of the state neither confirmed nor denied his death, leaving the case pending, shrouded in mystery and creating the false idea among family members that Taho Sejkoja was alive. Only in the years of democracy did the family get to know a decision of the Supreme Court, at that time, regarding the shooting sentence of Taho Sejko, but there was no record of the shooting.
The most recent announcement about his fate was made by a former employee of the Investigation, who claimed that: Taho Sejko was tortured for a long time and in the end his eyes were also gouged out. Among these contradictory and terrible data, the family still does not know the truth of Taho Sejko’s fate. The son testifies, Hektor Sejko Neither neither alive nor dead – a life left in the ground! What happened to this man, to this man? What is the fault of this? My 80-year-old grandmother, of the three sons she had, was left without any of them. Two were arrested on the same date and eliminated. The other one was made to drown in the well…!
Mr. Hektor Sejko, thank you for coming for the interview.
I’ll start with a little history. My grandfather, Mehmet Sejko, was among the great patriots of that time. In 1908 and 1909, he created the Albanian Club and was the chairman of the Albanian Club for “Brotherhood for the Albanian Language”, as well as opening the first Albanian school in Filat, in his home. In 1919, he signed the memorandum of Chameria, addressed to the Great Powers, for the union of the lands of Chameria with the Albanian lands. In 1920, the Greeks forced him to leave and thus came to Konispol.
My father, Taho Sejko, was born on February 14, 1912 and when he came to Albania, he was 8 years old. He went to school in Konispoli, then high school in the French Lyceum of Korça, and then went to the French University of Athens, for Economic and Political Sciences. He knew French, Italian and Greek very well. In 1939 he returned, forced by the invasion of Albania. His father had died; his mother and two brothers were in a difficult economic situation.
He joined the Movement, as deputy commander of the first platoon “Chameria” and was wounded in the battle of Konispol, where a German “Shrapnel” projectile remained in his body and stuck to his bone.
With the liberation of Albania, he had duties in Konispol, Gjirokastër, then in the State Plan Commission, in “Voice of the People” as chief of the economic editorial office, until the Tirana Conference came. At the Tirana Conference, they condemn him. The Tirana Conference took place after the death of Stalin and after the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, where Khrushchev changed the lines. In “Voice of the People”, two people from the Central Committee, Nexhmije Hoxha and Fiqrete Shehu, come to analyze the problems of the Tirana Conference. This is where Taho Sejko clashed with Nexhmije Hoxha.
This crash finally brought him full circle. But there is a document that proves that on August 21, 1948, Taho Sejkoja was fired from his job by the State Planning Commission, where he also received a remark on that famous registration card of that time…! Fiqrete Shehu asked him: “You, Taho, do you have two remarks on the registration card?”, “Yes”, he says. “You didn’t make a request to remove them”? “Why should I apply? You know very well why I received the remarks.
When in the State Planning Commission, no one spoke to you and Mehmet was taken to Vlora because of you, because you were fired, you were removed from the party; the only person in the State Commission who spoke to you was Taho Sejkoja”. “Yes,” she says, “I know.” “But when you got your tessa, why didn’t you also remove the remarks I had received”? – replied Tahoja. For all these well-known problems of that time, Taho Sejkoja entered the district.
Here I have a letter that Haxhi Kroi, Enver Hoxha’s secretary, took to the members of the Bureau. It reads: “By order of Comrade Rita, we are sending you the list of anti-party elements for which it is proposed to take measures and transfer them from their responsibilities and settle them in other countries. Please give your opinion on this matter!” In the list of 19 or 20 names, there is also the name of Taho Sejko, as a member of the “Voice of the People” collegium. The Prime Minister decided that Taho Sejkoja would start as director of the Automotive Park in Shkodër.
Taho Sejkoja requested that, if possible, the family, since they were stabilized in Tirana, should not be moved. However, a big car came, the men loaded the bags and we went to Shkodër. We didn’t have a house in Shkodër and we took shelter with my uncle. From 1956 to 1960, the father worked as the director of the Park and turned it from an unprofitable enterprise into full efficiency.
What happened that Taho Sejkoja became a dangerous person, so that his kidnapping and disappearance were planned?
It is said that in that meeting, when Nexhmije Hoxha was also present, Taho Sejkoja told her: “People are suffering for their bread, while you drive and your husband drives. So, something has to be changed in between, because you are making this country black. “He told him so bluntly that the others thought they would put the irons on him right there.”
Has your father been surveilled? Do you know if there were any informants?
Yes! According to the documents, there were informants from all categories of people: in the “Voice of the People”, in the State Plan Commission, in the Park Directorate in Shkodër. They are a series of deposits, of course, not by their real name.
Yes, with nicknames. They also reported how many times Taho Sejkoja ate meat.
Are you familiar with your father’s file?
Yes, I got them. The father was arrested in Shkodra Park. The State Security car went with three officers; they threw the blanket over his head, arrested him and took him to Tirana.
Father would go to Fushë Arrëz, take some cars available to the Ministry of Defense, for its work. Beqir Balluku himself was waiting for him there. But this was a complete game. At the moment they arrested him, a group of two State Security officers and the mayor of the neighborhood, Mark Shllaku, came to the house to check. Mark Shllaku came by bicycle. I, as the child that I was, from the great joy of having a bicycle, took his bicycle and went to my father’s work.
I see a crowd of people there. This gathering is strange, because there was no celebration. One approached me and said: “Hector, don’t stay here, go home!” He didn’t tell me what had happened. When I went home, I saw that they were checking and recording everything. There was my aunt, Suloja, there was my wife, Nazi, and there was my mother and my uncle. They took the papers, they took the photographs, and at the same time, they also took a ‘Nagant’ pistol, a war trophy, no cartridges, no nothing. He had told them himself: You have it in such and such a place, on such and such a shelf.
And of course, a bomb had fallen in the house that it was unimaginable that Taho Sejko could be arrested and taken to Tirana. This is where Taho Sejko’s great drama began. From start to finish, absolutely, he accepted nothing. Absolutely nothing! This is the record…!
Yes, you can read it.
This is how it is written: I, the investigator of the State Directorate, lieutenant colonel Stavri Madhi, interrogated the defendant Taho Mehmet Sejko, to make the announcement of the accusation, on the 10th of October.
So, on July 28, he was arrested, on August 10, this is the record of the Investigation. The interrogation began at 8:15 and ended at 1:45. Now, this questioning, which began at 8:15 and ended at 13:45, is marked only as follows: “You are accused of being an agent of foreign intelligence, for a long time, together with other persons, in an organized form, you have developed hostile activities aimed at overthrowing the popular power by force, implementing the tasks of foreign intelligence, you have provided information of a secret nature and recruited other people”. – Did you hear and do you understand the indictment?
– I heard and understood the indictment.
– Do you accept the indictment against you?
– I do not accept the indictment, because I have never been an agent of any foreign intelligence service, I have never given anyone information, of a secret nature, and I have never worked for the overthrow of the people’s power in Albania.
Did the accusation they formulated lead directly to the firing?
It is not discussed, it is indisputable. Now, what happened?
On 14.11.1960, in Hetuesi, the director of the State Security, lieutenant colonel Stavri Madhi, wrote: “I interrogated the defendant Taho Sejko. The questioning started at 9.00 and ended at 10.00.”
This session of questions was shorter… He must have eaten wood there, because there is no other meaning!
Here is this document where it is written: “Tell us about your hostile activity”.
The answer: “The Security Organs, just as they relied on lies in 1946, have today relied on lies against me, for my accusation as a spy. After my statements have been read, they are written correctly, I sign them.”
Have you been notified by the state authorities about this whole procedure, about the trial, about the elimination? What do you know about this?
Not only have we not been notified, but an unusual event has occurred. On May 15 or 16, 1961, the trial began in Tirana for the ‘Cham Group’. In this trial, the name of the father is mentioned, but the father was not there. The name is mentioned as if this was the person who had set up this group, as if this was the first.
Then, my mother takes us, the three children, the two sisters and me, to Tirana. We came to Tirana with the sole purpose of finding out how to help her husband. At my grandmother’s house, one floor above lived a family whose son-in-law was a lawyer, a certain Sasha, a well-known lawyer, but he was a bit of a dog – an employee of the State Security.
He goes downstairs and this conversation takes place. He tells us: “I came for a special reason. What Teme Sejko has done, he himself knows, he gives an account himself, I don’t know, I can’t talk about him. But what he says in the brother’s address, there is nothing, absolutely nothing true!”
He tells us that Teme Sejko had spoken for the whole. Afterwards, we found out that this trial was done with a dress rehearsal, as rehearsals are done for theatrical performances. It has been a dress rehearsal for the trial!
Why did Teme Sejkoja accept this farce?
How do we know? Come on; find out why Temja accepted it. Oh, the wood did it, or fraud! But what compelled him, it is very difficult to find. In the first place, he admitted guilt, which he did not do himself.
Half an hour after this conversation, the police came to pick us up and take us to Selvia, where the Police Directorate of Tirana was. My mother was kept in the office for two hours by the investigator. In conclusion, something special has remained in my memory. The moment he left the office of that big boss, he said under his breath: “Friend, you should take your children and run away, because these children are left without a father, don’t be left without a mother too”!
We were escorted by the police to the Ministry of the Interior, they put us in the car with the police and the police stayed with us, escorting us all the way to Vora, so that we wouldn’t get off anywhere.
The problem was that if we did not leave Tirana immediately, the mother would be put in prison.
My mother wanted to say two words in the Supreme Court and in the People’s Assembly: What Teme Sejkoja says about himself, he himself knows, but what he says about others, there is absolutely nothing true!
From this moment, for a long period of time, we are talking about May 1961, for a long period of time, 5-6 months, we have not moved from Shkodra. Normally, we didn’t move out of fear, because they said: “Yes, you came, you belong in prison!”
So, Taho Sejkoja was mentioned, but Taho Sejkoja was not in court, he was not there in person. At this time, words began to circulate about three versions: Taho Sejko was shot; Taho Sejkoja fell on the wall with her head and died; Taho Sejkoja is crazy. Now…!
For these three versions, my mother sent three telegrams to Kadri Hazbi for a meeting, to find out the truth about what was happening to him. The trial was held, it was mentioned there, but it was nowhere.
Was the trial the father’s or Teme Sejko’s?
The trial of the axha, of Temes.
Did your father have any legal proceedings?
Wait, now I’m reporting to you, the work of the judicial process. The history of the trial has its own peculiarity. Since the mother sent three telegrams to Kadri Hazbiu and he did not receive her, the mother was called to the Internal Affairs Department and asked: “What was the reason that you, friend, are asking Kadri Hazbiu for a meeting in three telegrams”?! Even the mother explains the reasons one, two, and three…! “There are many words circulating. We want to know the truth about what happened to him.”
And Feçor Shehu answered: “If we had shot him, we are not afraid to tell you that we shot him. If he had died, people die both outside and inside. If he was mad, he wouldn’t be for you or us. We would tell you: Go to Elbasan, you can find it there”!
And his last word: “Go raise that child, because the Party knows these things!”
The Party knows this work. That’s it! So, we are faced with this dilemma: an arrested person, a person who is mentioned in a trial and his name comes out, but the person does not come out, an unusual rumor of conversations, up and down and in the end, an answer of this nature. Now, did we like this answer? We really liked it, because there was hope inside: It is alive!
The mother said: “I have been blocked. I can’t go to Tirana, I can’t move”. He replied: “You are a citizen of the Republic. From today onwards, you have the right to go wherever you want, for the problems you may have”.
This opening of the road made the mother run to Tirana, to the General Prosecutor’s Office, where she requested a meeting with the General Prosecutor, to ask him about her husband’s problem.
He says: “I came, fellow prosecutor, for a very simple reason. I will make a decision for my children, but I want to hear with my own ears what Taho Sejkoja says about his hostile activity. I lived with him for 16 years, I knew him in the war, I had him as a husband and a friend, and I don’t have the slightest doubt about this job.”
The prosecutor replied: “Taho Sejkoja has had bad thoughts since the war, here and there…! And these thoughts that he had, normally, lead to that path. But you cannot participate in Taho Sejko’s trial, for the reason that Taho Sejko’s trial will be held behind closed doors”.
My mother tells him: “Comrade Prosecutor, do you believe what you are saying? You held the trial of Teme Sejko, Director of Army Intelligence and Commander of the Naval Combat Fleet, with open doors. Do you want to do the trial of Taho Sejko, the head of the Economic editorial office of “Voice of the People” and director of the Automobile Park of Shkodra, behind closed doors? Where are Taho Sejko’s secrets? Where? To the ‘Voice of the People’ that the whole world receives and reads”?
The answer was null: “The trial will be held behind closed doors”! During all this time that this story has been going on and that these words have been circulating, one beautiful day our aunt from Durrës comes to us. My aunt lived in Tirana, but she came directly from Durrës. Why? In the prison hospital in Tirana, a Cham nurse calls my aunt and says: “Do you want to see Taho”? “How come I don’t want to see my brother?!” The nurse says: “I’m giving you a piece of paper for Dr. Vokopola, but listen, you’ll go, you’ll give him the paper, and you’ll sit where they seat you. Don’t make a mistake neither standing up nor speaking anything, communicating with him”. So he instructed him and gave him the letter.
I say that this whole thing is made up by the State Security, that there is no man and no nurse in the world who could do actions of that nature. Especially at that time!
The aunt leaves, goes to Durrës and hands the letter to Dr. Vokopola, who tells the nurse there: “Give me an apron and sit there.” It didn’t take long, when they heard the sound of a car, says the aunt, and Tahoja arrives, together with Ali Xhelo Harap. This was a convicted person; he was one of those convicted in court that he appeared in court. Both tied hand in hand, with two Security officers at their sides. Dressed in English cloth suits, she says. This other one had torn the suit to pieces, had torn it. Tahoya was okay. Doctor Vokopola visited them and told the officers that, for the first one, there was nothing to do, because he had passed…. he was mad and Tahoja was better than before, but there was no special room to keep him.
Aunt comes and tells us this conversation. Not joy, but great joy!
Since your father is alive…?
Yes. After that, another phenomenon occurs. Zef Bala, driver of Shkodra Park, has an accident. His clavicle is broken and his spine is damaged. They take him to Tirana. At that time, a doctor had arrived from Romania and Zef Bala’s friends made it possible for him to be visited there as well. Now, Zefi himself tells us, with his own mouth: “I entered the anteroom where the doctor was and saw Taho Sejko sitting on the right side between two men, two civilians, and Security officers. Yes I saw it! And he saw me; I thought for the moment, I’m talking to him, that I’m sick…! How are you, friend Taho? He answered me: Good, Zef, good”.
That’s it! Now, all these news were the first news of this new situation, of this condition.
After that, normally, the conversations did not end, they continued in all forms, in all ways. Not a little, but a lot. News came from various sources. He is here, he is there, he cooperated with the Security, and he works with the Security, from the most different. All these kinds of news have dragged on until 1990. My mother died in December 1984. I was left with the task of doing the research for my father. Memorie.al
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