By Florenc Bakillari
The fifth part
– The rare story of the villager from Kalivaçi i Tepelena who, after announcing himself as a Security officer, presented himself as Kadri Hazbiu’s special envoy, in the Internal Affairs Branches in Shkodër and Durrës-
Memorie.al / Xhaferr Kanani, the rare character, in his account of the extremely dangerous adventure he undertook in 1960, that of the self-proclaimed State Security officer and then the introduction to “colleagues” in the Department of Internal Affairs of Shkodra and that of Durrës. Even after almost five decades from that time, he wondered about the lack of vigilance there, right in the den, where the plans for the arrests, tortures, persecutions, imprisonments and exiles of dozens of Shkodran citizens were hatched. Xhaferri would be surprised by the presentation and the warm reception given to him by the top leaders of the Internal Affairs Branch of Shkodra, starting with the chairman, Colonel Feçor Shehu, the Chief of Police, Colonel Skënder Vinçani, the Chief of Security, Lieutenant Colonel Hysen Hoxhati , etc. After becoming known in Shkodër, he decided to continue his dangerous game in the city of Durrës. Shkodra would give Xhaferr Kanan, the fake major, the pleasure of accompanying Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu, who visited the northern city in the summer of 1960, while Durrës would accompany Enver Hoxha during his visit to the Labor Party. of Albania, Enver Hoxha, accompanied by most of the members of the Political Bureau, had come to the coastal city to see off Maurice Torrez, the head of the Communist Party of France, after his several-day visit to our country. The history of his “inspection, as a special envoy of the minister Kadri Hazbiu” in Shkodër and Durrës, has been described in detail by the character of our article, Xhaferr Kanani, in his long interview, which will be published in several numbers.
Continues from last issue
Mr. Kanani, during the time you stayed in prison, did you have any problems with the officers?
I had some problems. There was an officer or captain who thought that I was responsible for the demobilization and removal from the ranks of the police of 38 people, so they also insulted me or in some cases tried to mistreat me, but they did not stop me. I had clarified the situation in which I had found myself in the entire environment of the prisoners, as I wanted even these opponents of mine to get the word that my adventure was not intended to take over people. It just started as a game even though I knew it would cost me jail time. If I had escaped, I would have destroyed many families, so I never once thought of doing such a thing, even though I went to Shkodër on March 8, 1960, with the intention of escaping. The girl I met forced me to call myself a Security officer.
How was life in the Bulqiza mine and the condition of the convicts there?
In the gallery it was a rather scandalous situation, the prisoners worked long hours, up to the realism of the daily rate. None of us climbed up to the surface without realizing the latter. I saw a case where a prisoner from Saranda was brutally beaten by the guards because he did not want to work in the mine. From what I was told, he was sentenced to a year in prison for deserting the army without permission. I remember that boy was not more than 20 years old, who had a strong physique. He bluntly told the prison authorities that he would not work in the gallery for as long as he was sentenced.
But the guards dragged him through the snow and took him to the gallery, but he still did not touch a piece of ore with his hand, to load the wagons. They also drag him back and bring him to the cell. The determination of the boy forced the authorities to transfer him to the Burrel prison after some time. His health had declined to a great extent, and when his mother, who had gone to visit him in prison, saw him, he had a heart attack and died on the spot. This is how the mine and the prison of Bulqiza used to be.
You must have been very strong to endure the life of a prisoner there. Food was scarce, so much so that the prisoners, if there was anything left when they received the rations, rushed to get it first. I remembered one occasion when, as they hurried to push each other to get some food, someone poured pasta soup on the head of a prisoner. The master of the soup took the pasta from the other’s head and ate it. I have seen other cases of poor feeding and barbaric beatings, which were inflicted on the prisoners.
Did you have any incidents while you were in the mine gallery?
I knew very well that, Feçor Shehu and two or three other people who had “suffered”, from my story, intended to disappear altogether as a sign of revenge. They continued to have relations with other officers who were in the ranks of the State Security, who did not have a hard time making fun of me, all the more inside the gallery. A brigadier named Hyso and a certain Kudreti had received orders to eliminate me as soon as they were given the opportunity.
I knew this, but my fate no longer depended on me. The commander of the prison, Colonel Hazbi Lamçe, was kind to me and did not hesitate to help me, even more so when he knew the created situation and took me out to work on the surface. Sometime later, the Minister of the Interior, Kadri Hazbiu, accompanied by General Zija Kambo, comes to visit Bulqiza prison. I was called to the headquarters where the entire prison staff was gathered.
After greeting me, they turned to our executioners, telling you that I had not taken their comrades by the neck, but in fact, they had taken me by the neck, with their lack of vigilance. In fact, if the officers of the Internal Affairs Branches of Shkodra and Durrës had been vigilant, my adventure would not have been realized, as they would have discovered me from the beginning.
Did Hysni Kapo also say this to the senior officers of the Ministry of Interior while you were being held in the investigator’s cell awaiting trial, right?
It is true that Hysni Kapo told them that; you took this man by the neck and not your officers. After this statement, Rexhep Kolli reacted, who replied to Hysni Kapo that the released officers escaped bullets in the war, while now I had “killed” them. It was the moment when Hysni Kapo had just said that I had only one fault, that I had not thrown the managers of the Shkodra Branch in Buna, while those of Durrës, at the ground zero.
Rexhep Kolli also intervened here and said: This one has committed only one sin that can be forgiven, since those who were not killed by the bullet in the war, or the saboteurs already, he killed with his action. After that, Hysniu intervened again, telling Rexhep Kolli that; he and his friends “killed” the freed officers. Hysniu continued to insist that only Rexhepi’s subordinates were to blame for my fate. However, this debate between Hysni Kapo and Rexhep Kolli also shows what could happen to me later. Only the arrival of Kadri Hazbiu and Zija Kambo changed everything in the behavior of some guards towards me, until the end of my sentence.
What about after prison, where were you placed and did your persecution continue?
I wanted to go to Elbasan, since I had two sisters there, so I asked Kadri Hazbi for this. They helped me to go to Elbasan, even Todo Manço gave me a letter for the first secretary of the Party Committee of this district, Jashar Menzelnxhiu. The latter led me to work as a supplier at the Rruga-Ura enterprise in Elbasan. Menzelnxhiu even told the managers of the company to take care of me, since I had fallen victim to the lack of vigilance of the State Security bodies.
During the time when I was working at the Rruga-Ura enterprise, I had the support of a man to whom I am still grateful today. Veip Guri, the chief engineer of that company, treated me well and was even the one who told me who I should be protected from, since he knew that the State Security there in Elbasan had the intention of, as soon as he found the opportunity, to take me back to prison.
It has often happened to me that I have to face people who insistently asked me to tell my story and then report to the Internal Affairs Branch of Elbasan, whose head at that time was Nevzat Haznedari, a wicked man and soul kazma Veip Guri knew very well that spies were behind me and he told me that I should be careful. It was chief engineer Guri who removed me from Elbasan, when he saw that I was in danger and sent me to the same company, but in Saranda.
You left Elbasan and settled in Saranda, in the Rruga-Ura enterprise. Did you find peace after this transfer?
At first, it seemed to me that I escaped the pursuit of the State Security, but then, I realized that the same situation continued. I started work in Dhrovjan and one afternoon when I had just returned from work, I passed by the Tourism Hotel, where Feçor Shehu and Hito Çako were, from the hotel, they were observing something with binoculars. Feçor saw me and called me to go to him. As soon as I arrived, he asked me why I was in the vicinity of Tourism. I answered that I was there by chance and that I had just left work.
He thought I had gone on purpose, but I contradicted him. We had a bit of an argument and it is known that he was reassigned to his position and continued to maintain the same attitude towards me as before, so he had not forgotten what I had allegedly done to him. At this time, Hito Çako intervened in the debate, who, because he did not know me, asked the head of the Department of Internal Affairs of Saranda, Bajram Muça, a very good man, to find out who I was. He told him that there was a fake “major” in front of him. Hitoja immediately told him:
“Major of Kalivac?! I paid to meet this man”?! Çako asked me about the reasons why I was in Saranda and I told him that I was there thanks to Feçor Shehu. Hito Çako, he started bragging to me about that story that I had paid dearly for, not only with prison, but I was already being followed everywhere by Feçori with friends. That’s how long the conversation with them lasted and then I went to my work.
Why did Feçor Shehu “follow” you, when you had finished your sentence for what you did?
It was clear to me that Feçor Shehu suffered psychologically more than all my history because he was haughty and boastful, but his feathers fell, only when for a youthful adventure, to whom his superiors sold him as a “specialist finished”, they told him that he was nothing more than a fool. All his life, he was obsessed with the blow he received in 1960, and for this reason, he was behind me to lock me forever in a cell, which, thanks to Kadri Hazbiu, did not happen.
However, even after I got out of prison, I had turned into a reserved person and did not give the spies the opportunity to report on me. Although I acted like this, I did not escape persecution. More specifically, I want to say that five days after the remarks with Feçor Shehu, policemen from Tepelena came to Saranda, who told me that they had an order to hand me over to the Department of Internal Affairs in Tepelena. Then I learned that a decision had been made by Feçor Shehu for my deportation to Grabian in Lushnja.
So, your “enemies” achieved their goal or not?
Not entirely because there were also people who were kind to me. Shortly after communicating the order to me, the head of the Department of Internal Affairs of Tepelena, Zyhdi Aga, called the Minister of Internal Affairs, Kadri Hazbiu, and informed him about what had happened to me. Kadriu, as soon as he learned about my internment in Grabian in Lushnje, intervened to change the place of internment, from Grabian in Lushnje, to Selenica in Vlora. I was unmarried at the time and I started my family a few years later, in Selenica, where I had children.
Why did you refuse the internment in Grabian of Lushnje?
Many of those who qualified as enemies of the government were interned there, and I used this to avoid going there. Then, I had not done any anti-government action, I had only realized a youthful adventure, for which I had been punished and not a little, but it took me years in prison. In Selenica, I also had a married sister there and I felt good, then I thought that Selenica was different, compared to Grabiani. I thought that they could leave me alone there, but in fact I was wrong because, some mean people, kept hitting my neck.
Did you find a solution to the harassment of the Security people in Selenice?
I also found Bela in Selenica, from Feçor Shehu’s people. They followed me from behind and never left me alone. I had encountered ignorant State Security officers several times. However, I was lucky to find two good people there, Colonel Dhimitër Bonatë, the Head of the Department of Internal Affairs of Vlora, and Llazar Karafili, who had known me for years. They ordered an operative not to harass me by some vile guys like Zalo Matraku and others, who told me that they would take me to where I was, that is, to prison and other threats like these.
Throughout your narrative, you mention Kadri Hazbi as your savior. Why did this high official of that time help you?
I think the first reason was because Kadriu knew very well that I had done nothing wrong, but an adventure. But I think he continued to help me when I didn’t bring out the names of those officers he wanted to help. Kadri Hazbiu always looked at me with pity and tended to help me. I also have a memory with him. That was my last meeting with the minister at that time. I also went to an anniversary of the battle of Drashovica. Kadriu was together with Vito Capo and other powerful people of that time.
I took a seat in the first row, near the church Basri Bedin, one of the officers of the Internal Affairs Branch of Durrës, who released him when I came out as a fake “major”. To be honest, I wanted to talk to him and asked him how he was. He told me: How can I be, you don’t see it, you leave these to us and showed the decorations of partisanship. I was very hurt and kept silent, but in the meantime, he left me saying that I had not left him comfortable there either. When the ceremony ended, Kadri Hazbiu came to me and asked me about my health, if I had any problems. I told him that they were still not leaving me alone even where I was interned, in Selenica.
He cut me off: “From now on, no one, even the management staff of Selenica, will harass you if they see that you met with me.” Again I did not believe that they would leave me alone, but in fact, after that day, I was no longer harassed by the Security operatives and continued my life, but on the other hand, I had remained economically weak and that economy followed me until nowadays. This is how it was written for me, to suffer all my life even today in my old age, but I hope that my children, who I don’t believe, will have my fate, and there is no reason to have it. /Memorie.al