By Aleko Likaj
Memorie.al / Sadik Premten had adored him in his early youth, there in the villages of the “Vlora River” in the 40s, but after 60 years, he was able to be by his side. The strange story of Dilaver Premti from Vranishti in Vlora, who spent 20 years in prison and then “wasted” in the endless calvary of exiles, had as its genesis, precisely the fact that he was a supporter of Sadik. Although with the same last name, he admits that he did not know her personally at that time. The ideologue and the man, who had taken his mind, lived about 30 km. away from him, in the village of Gjormë. With a family that has been under the influence of the “National Front”, Dilaveri preferred Sadik, who was against the communists Hysni Kapo and Mehmet Shehu, who “sowed fratricide in the province, and so on”!
A student at the commercial school of the coastal city, he had learned that in the village he had to pass through to get to his home, in distant Vranishti, he was one of the top leaders of the party, instigating the “armed uprising” to drive out the occupier. Then, throughout the province, “only Sadik, who bore the nickname “Jepi”, was talked about.” A relative of his had identified them.
The village of Gjorm, according to Dilaveri, had become a post-block that was not easily passed. “All the boys of that village, but also of the nearby villages, had gathered around their leader.” When he was a student, he also learned about the opposition, which the former guerilla figures of the “Pocket” city already did. He had learned that he “paid dearly”, his head in those moments, not only in the Vlora region. But he had never seen her face to face. “Why not, I dreamed it.”
A little while later, he learned that they organized an assassination attempt at “Ura e Zonjës”, where the signors of two nearby villages, Gjorm and Lepenicë, are divided. Then, chance brought him face to face with Sadik Premten, in the hot days of November 1944, in the northern city of Shkodër, while he was preparing to leave the country. There were some moments that did not even exceed 120 minutes. 16 years old, together with some fellow villagers of the area, among them three cousins of Sadik, decided to leave for the streets of Europe. Maybe he could even get an education, since he was a good student at the Trade School. This has been for many years, the hostage of a boy who dreamed of a different future, but could not realize it.
After three years, he tried to escape again, after he had left the prison in Llakatund, but the Greek E.AM -ists handed him over to the border, when he was at the gates of Filati, together with two other friends. The summer of the 90’s was the moment that changed the course of his life, thus making the old boyhood dream come true, to meet the man for whom the communist system had vented to the maximum over all the storms and curses that have ever been released to man, who although within the species, thought and projected a different future, without dictatorship.
Surprised by his character, but also by his wisdom and analysis of the events of the day, he trusted his life as a child right in Paris. The words of a leader already in the French Communist Party show that Albania at that time, and his party, lost the chance to have a loyal and far-sighted politician, which would surely lead it to other better trends. “Maybe if the ideas of Sadik Premte prevailed, we wouldn’t be in Europe where we are today”. After all, this is his opinion.
“Sadik has had three assassination attempts in Paris, and all three have failed thanks to his ingenuity and self-defense instincts, but also the love that his French acquaintances had for him,” says Dilaver Premti. “Enver Hoxha paid for his head, maybe even the gold from what he took from us,” says Dilaver Premti. Then, together with his brother Zijai, who had also arrived in Paris, a few days before him, they were the closest people to Sadik Friday in the French capital, Paris.
That’s how that warm April day has come, where spring had just opened its first buds. A phone call from Zijai and he is found in front of Sadik’s gate. He does not forget the last moment, when he saw the man he had adored for 50 years, lying under the couch, lifeless. Then the numerous tributes from the personalities of the French left politics, friends of this country, and Albanians gathered together, regardless of idea or religion, who also took many photos at his grave.
Mr. Dilaver, how did you meet Sadik Friday, while you have a common last name, it seems that you are of the same blood?
Yeah…! We are not of the same blood. I myself am from Vranishti, while Sadiku was from the village of Gjorm. But what I want to tell you honestly is that I have adored him since my early youth. When I was also a student at the Commercial School of Vlora. We are from a province, “Lumi i Vlora”, and to get to my village, you have to pass through Gjormi, where Sadiku was born. It is true that in the early ’40s I was in the period of adolescence, as you call it today. Getting to know Sadik started through the conversations I heard in our family homes, neighbors, and friends of my family, who, even though they were leaning towards “Balli i Kombit”, spoke with respect about his character and virtues.
In the beginning, word spread in the province that a man with the nickname “Xhepi” was one of the main figures of the Anti-Fascist Movement that had started in Albania at that time. Assessments about Sadik were made, without knowing that “Jepi” was himself. In the entire province, he was known as a man whose word weighed heavily, although he too had no age whatsoever. He had a natural intelligence to be envied. He was educated. The boy of Fridays had become a point of reference at that time in our area.
Loved and expected, said even those who knew him closely. After what was called; the “war against the faction” in Vlora, which did not pass without leaving deep traces in all of Vlora and its provinces, it was understood that Sadiku was the key man of that movement, but who had been targeted. They called him to Tragjas, “to clarify”, but he was notified in time, and together with a handful of boys, not only Gjormi’s, whom they all knew as brave, returned, leaving him to the first of the communists, with his finger in his mouth. So the plan to kill him failed. Then war broke out within their own kind.
“Ceta Plë”, one of the first anti-fascist squads in the whole country, which was commanded by “Vangjua” (nickname of Neki Ymer), a brave boy, a strategist with a wink, became the epicenter of the strike. This commander had shot because he was Sadik Premte’s brother-in-law (so he had taken his sister as his wife), he was trapped by Mehmet Shehu. I know that an attempt was made in a village in Mallakastra, where they kept him under arrest and he was killed as if by accident” Xhemil Çakërri and this member of this gang, while “Vangjua” escaped the rope that was erected for him. Then apparently, Neki went to his village and shared his thoughts, standing by his brother-in-law’s side.
Excuse me, did you live all these stories as a contemporary or…?!
As I told you, I was in Trade School at the time. Despite the great conspiracy of our time, even though different winds were blowing, many things were agreed upon. Let’s understand. It was difficult to find out that so-and-so did that action, or that so-and-so was killed by the ix, let’s take it. Events remain events. As they have been. For example. When you passed through Gyorma at that time, which was considered the “second Moscow”, it was impossible not to be “checked” by the boys of that village.
After the war against the faction, everything changed. Word came out in various places that Sadik Premtja had been targeted by the senior leaders of his party, who had come from Tirana. He no longer lived in the village with Hysniu and Mehmet, who constantly came there. This is what my close people, who I had in that village, and who were near Sadik, told me.
Now it turns out that in this village, right after the failure of Tragjas, Hysni Kapua himself came there as a clandestine, who apparently wanted to “differentiate” the boyhood of Gjormi from Sadik. Perhaps he was also looking for some hand to shoot at him, exploiting some old family feud, but apparently, he failed in his mission very quickly. As we found out recently, from eyewitnesses, after three days of hiding and “bessa”, of a family in one of the western neighborhoods of this village, he left disguised as a woman. She was wearing a pair of tumans, and on her head a hand scarf, just like our women do in those parts. Accompanied by a woman of the family who held him in trust, he goes over the neighborhood “Ndregjon” to “Vris”, and then he took the mountain in the evening.
George paid for this. After the war and the coming to power of Enver, Hysniu and Mehmet, this village of Sadik Premte was described as the village of “party traitors”. I remember that the Security at that time also arrested five boys from this village, mostly goat herders, under the accusation that they had “organized an assassination attempt on Comrade Hysni”, who was expected to pass through there, on his way to Tërbaç, his village. After a year or so of investigations, they failed thanks to good people, who did not take it upon themselves to tarnish the innocent in investigations, but which they also suffered later. The police were forced to execute the operative of the area, who “took the Giormiots by the neck”. This happened there from the end of the 50s
You mentioned above that your family was with ‘Balli’. Did this organization encounter Sadik and his people in Gjorm and elsewhere, who at that time represented another current, communist?
It is true that the “National Front” at that time was a potent force. Even inside the village of Gjorm, where Sadik Premtja lived, we had our own structures. You must understand that the whole “River of Vlora” was in complete harmony and there were no cases of fratricide. Sadik was against this fratricide, even though he belonged to what we called the “red current”.
Here I think is the essential difference between him and those who inspired the dictatorship. I knew a ballist in his village, who was at the same time one of the best poets of ‘Balli’, who, ironically, had a house right next to Sadik’s, and whose verses I remember today. He has shaved until a few years ago, of course with the bullet mark
Could you ever meet Sadik at that time?
After what is called; “The war against the ‘Pocket’ faction”, the communists took revenge for Sadik’s return from the path. An ambush was organized in the middle of the road, which connects two villages, Lepenica and Gjormë, in the place called “Ura e Zonjës”. His head was wanted in the “pan”. Sadik Premtia, who had already been withdrawn from his closest comrades in the war in the Vlora district, happened one day as a guest in Lepenica, to his relatives, together with a handful of boys from the village of Gjormi.
It is shot by a commanded team, which had set an ambush. Neki Ymeri and Xhafer Dalani, who were at the head of the group, were killed while walking carelessly. They did not think that the work would go that far. It is known that Sadiku and the others escaped, entering the stream, and then came out to Shushicë. After this event, it was very difficult to find his address. I have no information where it happened. From the beginning of November 1944, I meet with some of Sadik’s relatives, since I was in Gjorma with my people those days, and together we go to Shkodër.
My goal was to go to Europe. I was very young and I wanted to go to school there, as many Albanian boys had done. By chance, we also meet Sadik there. Believe me, I am happy. I squeezed it with my hand, from the idealist chunak. We hung out at the moment for only about two hours, then we parted to meet again, but that didn’t happen again. This, even for my fault, in an instant. Hasan and Fetiu, his two cousins, who we found there, fled with Sadik. How he arrived in France and what route he took, I do not know.
I returned then, traveling through Albania. I also found a job as an accountant, but a few months later, I was fired and I returned to the village, where I was arrested. The ordeal of suffering in prisons began. Once we escaped there from the end of the 40s, from the prison of Llakatund, together with some friends. A trio, we went and left without a road, in Greece, somewhere in a village near Filati. It was a wild winter, and the police forces were all on foot. In a Greek house, we were caught by E.A.M forces who handed us over to the Albanian border post. That’s how long it took for us to be targeted by the Security, which was not shared with us for half a century. I spent a little over twenty years in prison, and then I was exiled, until the day the embassies exploded.
After that, did you leave Albania?
Yes. And for this, I know thanks to Sadik, who, why hide it, attracted me like a magnet. So I chose France. It is an odyssey then to find a way to leave that country, which, even though it was my country, where my head was “broken”, was denied to me. When I happened over Bari, a city very close to my Vlora, (facing the Adriatic on the plane), I cried like a child. Even with laws, as our old women usually do, in great trouble. I also matured with my dead in the cemetery, before I set foot in Rinas. We were denied everything. I arrived at Charles De Gaulle that day. I had with me the address of Mehmet Kushi, who was imprisoned with me, and who was close to Sadik.
I couldn’t get it from Albania. I asked him for Sadik’s address and he gave it to me. I hear a familiar voice on my home phone. It was Zijai, the younger brother of Sadik Premtes, my friend and friend of suffering and troubles, who had arrived in Paris only three days ago, together with Luan Koka. They took me straight to the house of my idol, of my early youth. He was not there at the moment. We celebrated that night and I got drunk, as I rarely have in my life. It was perhaps a way to get out of the trap that had been locked inside me for 50 years and that left me homeless and homeless, away from my relatives. This is because I thought differently from those who were in power.
You realized the dream like this; did you break up with Sadik after that?
No. You have to understand one thing. It is the year ’90, and after my arrival, according to all the rules, I asked for political asylum, which the French government quickly granted me. I lived and lived in a refugee residence, along with many others. At that time in Paris and France, there was a large community of Albanians. There were people who came after the war, but also from embassies. My life was limited to daily meetings with Zija, who became a real brother for me, but also with Sadik. He was a pensioner at the time. He had worked as an accountant in one of the large trading firms “Fnak”. He had done school for that. He came with us at the end of the week; we went out to the suburbs of Paris sometimes. We didn’t part after that, as I was considered close to him.
What was the life and activity of Sadik Premtes, in the French capital, at the time you met him?
Regularly as a clerk in a society like the French one, he is engaged, staying true to the convictions of his early youth, even with politics. I know that he was involved in one of the left parties here in France. I saw in his room some photos with his friends and, among others, with Georg Marshe, one of the most famous leaders in the movement of those years. He led a regular party life. And this was known by the entire Albanian community in Paris.
The history of the three assassinations organized by the then Albanian Security, with the insistence of Enver Hoxha himself, to eliminate him physically, had made him very careful with his compatriots. He did not want to suffer the fate of Trotsky, whom Stalin treacherously killed. With me and Zija, he often talked mainly about our close people, who we had left there in Albania.
I have never heard him speak or slander his former comrades, with whom the war had first connected him. One day I jokingly asked him. “Sadik, now that democracy has won, will we return to Albania”? He put his lip on the gas. He shook his head and said; “I have some other obligations. Then age and illnesses don’t let me move! The first democratic processes had begun in our country, although not well crystallized. When Enver’s bust collapsed, one of the journalists of this country took a long interview. .
I think it was in a television studio, or in a newspaper, which at the moment I don’t remember well, since I didn’t watch television or newspapers, because I didn’t know the French language. Sadik, I didn’t dare to ask him. An Albanian immigrant like me, told me that he; “had spoken wise words and made an analysis of everything that happened for half a century in Albania”
Now let’s come to the last moment of his life. How did you find out about the event?
It was spring, the beginning of April. Zijai called me. This had been to a friend of his, nearby. Together immediately, we are in front of the gate of Sadik’s house. The aunt was very alarmed, as if she had foreseen everything. He had called Sadik a moment ago from his friend’s house and had not received any answer. Only the sound of the TV, which was on, could be heard. Apparently the brother was slowly dying there. In fact, Sadiku was sick. Heart problems. Age also took its toll.
His aunt had made it a habit to call him two or three times a day to check on him. Then together with the police, which Zijai informed, we forcefully opened the door, which was locked from the inside. I remember we found Sadik Friday lifeless, lying down on the carpet. This is how I became a witness to that moment that separated from this life, the man who opposed Enver Hoxha, from the creation of the Albanian Communist Party, until the last moments of his government.
Sadik’s library, as well as his manuscripts, was passed on to his brother, who still has them today, through a will he drew up before he died, there in Paris. Of course they are not exposed. Zijai has spoken in the Albanian press, and even debated. I know that he has authentic documents of that time, which is actually forged according to the interests of those who seized power. For me, Sadik Premtja was fought by Enver, because in Sadik, at the first meeting of the communist leaders, he recognized the man who would bring him a lot of trouble, as the main contender, to take over power.
In fact, at that meeting, the green light was given to Hoxha’s opponent, after the proposal to oust the leaders of the groups. So Sadik Premtja, is the first person who was targeted by Enver Hoxha for elimination, which, although it did not happen, thanks to the intuition of the latter, remained for more than 45 years, open until the end. Others have had the bad luck to be victims in different times and situations that the country went through.
Have you been to the last funeral ceremony?
Of course. Together with Zija, we organized everything. I was impressed by the fact that Sadiku enjoyed the respect of the high functionaries of the French Communist Party, up to George Marsheja. I verified this on the very day of the memorial ceremony that was organized for the former Albanian communist. As I said above, in that ceremony that gathered about 200 French people, the farewell speeches were also given, precisely by these people, who valued and appreciated the figure of Sadik Premte with superlatives, which every Albanian communist would have envy
He closed his eyes, like a militant of his ideal. Time will make many distinctions, for what was said and written by Enver Hoxha, against his figure. It is good to listen carefully to the words of the one who has been anathematized for half a century, in Albania, who loved Sadik Premtia so much and devoted himself to her, as a worthy son of hers. The truth disappears, but it is never lost. This is worth a lot./Memorie.al