The third part
Memorie.al publishes some parts of the voluminous autobiographical book in manuscript “Beautiful land, ugly people” (memories from hell) by the author, Kasem Hoxha, originally from the village of Markat in Saranda and living in the USA since 1985, when he fled Albania after suffering ten years in the prisons of Enver Hoxha’s communist regime. The whole sad and painful story of Kaso Hoxha, from the life and hard work in his village in the southernmost part of the country, the dissatisfaction with the regime and the first poems of a political nature, how they fell into the hands of the State Security and who were his relatives who spied on him, the arrest in the office of the Chairman of the People’s Council of Markat village, by the State Security on June 21, 1973, the investigation in the Saranda Branch of Internal Affairs, the trial against him and the sentence with 10 years in prison for “agitation and propaganda”, staying in “Kaushin” of Tirana (Ward 313), and the prisoners he found there, being sent to Spaç and working in that camp with criminal and “soft” police officers, the accomplices of description of their “portraits” with positive and negative sides, release from prison and return to the countryside, escape to Greece and stay in the Lavros camp, gaining political asylum in the USA, correspondence with Amnesty International, e London branch, inf information with the data he sent to the prisoners of Spaç and the communist regime in Albania, to the creation of a new family and life and work in that distant place with the Cham community divided by the intrigues of the people of the State Security from Albania operating there.
Excerpts from the manuscript book, “Beautiful land, ugly people“, (memories from hell) of the author, Kasem Hoxha, sent by him exclusively for Memorie.al
Do not pay attention to the title I am presenting to you, I mean, if you are not patient to read this collection of memoirs, if you want to forgive the author, that his style is pale, uninspired before this drama of great, of my people, of my martyred nation.
My characters are not created by my imagination, but are real people, they are your brothers, your fathers, your relatives. The events are not fictional, but real and lived. You will convince yourself, only after reading this summary with memories. You will find something from your life, something real from the lives of your fathers, your mothers, your brothers, how they suffered and how they died.
I wrote this collection of memories about the legacy left to me by my friends, for the world to learn the truth, how innocent people were tortured, how they suffered, how they died, in the camps and prisons of the executioner, Enver Hoxha!
I go with the hope that any reader, Albanian or foreign, is not left with hatred, from criticism, beating opposing opinions, as it is the best way to find the truth. The title of the book, “Beautiful land, ugly people”, will anger the reader, but in the end, I will conclude that I have the right to call it “The 45-year era of the satanic communist regime of Enver Hoxha”: Ugly.
I, alas, for the misfortune I had, saw and lived the great drama that happened before my eyes. I am neither a poet nor a orator, I will need hard work to escape the literary mistakes in this historical book, which can inspire future poets and writers, on the tragedy of our time, of the darkest time of my nation !
Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish you all freedom and peace…!
Llavrio, Greece 1985
June 1973. Handcuffed in cell no. 4 of the Internal Branch of Saranda!
I did not say a word. My corpse was locked inside these black walls, but my soul was there far away inside those poor walls of my hut. I was trying to find some comfort, the pain in my arms was getting worse due to the lack of blood circulation. In the quiet grave of this prison, the footsteps of the boots of the policeman patrolling the corridor could be heard, he occasionally opened the counter, a 10 cm hole. with 10 cm. in the middle of the door, turned on the light to see if I was alive!
As I painfully fell to the ground, on those wooden slats lying on the floor, I wondered who they were who reported me to the State Security organs. I was wondering, did some writings fall into their hands?! Memories, events, verses in poetry? I am sure the Security Operatives searched the house in every corner of it. I was terrified that if it fell into their hands, they would have enough material that, according to their laws, they might even shoot me. The words with which I had titled them were enough: “New year’s, black days”, with a deep anti-communist character against Enver Hoxha’s Party.
My anger was felt in every verse of my notes, as in “The Song of the Kazmaxhi”, etc. Thoughtful about the accusation made against me, the grievous accusation of being sentenced to death, made me forget the pain of the bars that had penetrated deep into my flesh. After a few hours in the corner of the cell sitting cross-legged, I wanted so much to lie down, though tied with my hands behind my back, it was incredibly difficult. In this basement cell, you could not hear the noise of the city, except there – here the police shouted at the detainees in other cells, so I was not alone at the end of this hell.
It is the first day of summer June 21, the wheat harvest fields, the wheat we produce with our own hands, but we never enjoy the wheat bread, as the cooperative villagers are sold cornbread that even dogs eat. The June heat was drying up the grass that came out in the spring. The heat that shone on the faces of the villagers of Fukaren, the heat that shook everything, the rains were rare in that month. The eyes of my mind were there, staring from afar at that land I loved so much.
I could not forget that horrible scene of the morning of that day, it seemed to me that I found little consolation when I thought of my people, of my decision, of my sheep, and that it fed me and my enemies, the people who served it. dictator. This regime had thrown brother against brother, no one trusts the other to express what is happening. The greyhounds who make the law in the village, are some laro without any human feeling, they fanatically serve the dictator, they do not get tired, they have everything, while we have nothing.
I call them Laro because I cannot find lower words to describe their character. One of these, or all of those greyhounds, was the reason I was in that black cell. Who is this ignoramus, this filthy creature, cobra in the hands of the dictator?! This dictator lived because there are such people who serve his crime!
My mind went to Nafiz A…, I do not know why I hated so much, this filthy communist, in the full sense of the word. I always tried not to have a place in my soul and heart, the feeling of human hatred for man, my character did not approach me, although not yet well formed ideologically, I could not separate friends from enemies, because I loved them all equally.
I was looking for the reason why people were not equal in society! I was thinking that at the moment it was boiling, to answer many questions. Is it Rexhep R… with all his brothers? Leskua and Shefqet R…, I also suspected the Security spies, Petrit A…, Sadik S…, the son of Saliko Sh… S…. These spies, informants of the dictatorial machinery, gave Security information to anyone! In these incredibly difficult moments, gathered in this cell, black basement, I felt pessimistic, lost, without hope. The brain in the head boiled like a pot boiling in the fire. I said to myself: this is the end!
Kneeling in that corner of cell number 4, I waited for what I did not know would happen. I did not know what time it was, while the policeman’s boots were heard near my cell number 4. They opened the small counter, turned on the light, opened the heavy door with a lot of noise. I woke up with a lot of pain on my feet, my eyes were adjusted to the darkness of the cell, I could clearly see the scratched black walls, full of heroglyphs all over there, as the prisoners passing in this cell were trying to write their name to leave traces.
The light they lit was blinding to my eyes that were accustomed to darkness. I saw very clearly the faces of those big-bellied cops. One of them was Beqo Sulo from Aynjari, his eyes dancing out of the eye socket, they looked very glazed! The face of that belly shone from the abundant fat. He pulled out a large duff and asked me, “What have you done?” – as if he knew nothing. I was very sure that his masters had instructed him on how to torture me.
Bequa, a former policeman for years in the Internal Affairs Branch, I knew this policeman, because he was going through Markati, when he came to Ajnjar, I knew his face swollen from excess fat. This large belly, dressed in a dark blue uniform and with the policeman’s hat growing on the top of his head, made him look heavier.
Bequa was the policeman who took the prisoners to the WC and gave them food. I did not want to answer his question and I wanted to express by clenching my jaw that I hated him. He ordered me to turn my back and with a key, unscrew the handcuffs tight to the bone. Meanwhile my hands were numb.
– “Go to the dump”! he ordered me. Haleja was a door further, stinking so much, unwashed, never disinfected ever! The police and Bequa were guarding me. I did not want to go out, my body had stopped functioning.
– “Come on”… – he shouted, ‘what are you waiting for. “Tomorrow morning, we will open the door for you again,” the police shouted angrily. –
– “I do not need anything,” I replied. Beqo Sulo policeman, ordered two other policemen to put me in dungeon number 4 again, ordering them to handcuff me, not only in my hands, but now also on my feet. did military service. After they threw me, they ordered me to kneel to tie my hands and feet together, like an animal, when it leads to the butcher!
I fell piled on those boards. The young policemen were merciful, they did not tighten the bars too much, however, imagine, could it be possible for you to lie in this cell for hours, bound in this way?! I closed my eyes, tears rolled down my cheek, now with no hope of seeing my mother, my children! I was a little interested in the woman who brought these children to life, I doubted that she gave any information to the Security about my anti-communist stance, I was not sure, but I knew how many greyhounds they asked anyone?!
All “We”, called “declassed”, that is, people “undesirable” for the Enver regime! All these people will have my fate?! Complete physical elimination, my cousins were anti-communists. Selfo Hoxha, a former political prisoner, the State Security hounds knew very well that I loved my people.
After coming to the village with his family, he managed to escape to Greece, together with his brother-in-law, Bilal Xhaferri and Bajram Shuaip, Ferik’s son. I had great sympathy for Bilal. I had the opportunity to read his book “Young People, Ancient Land”, a book which became an inspiration for me.
The other cousin, Rexhep Hoxha, had fled in 1956, at a time when the Party envoy, Shefqet Peçi, was seeking to make the village a cooperative. My uncle Haxhiu, with all his wife, my dear Xhexhon and his son, Hiqmet, were interned in Dushk of Lushnja. Hiqmet was later sentenced to prison by Enver’s regime for physically disappearing. He was young and could be released after 16 years, but not completely, after being interned in Borsh, Saranda. He came to the village, I waited for him, I took him to my poor hut, together with Selfo’s son, Alemin.
No relative came to comfort him for his hardships in life, for the loss of his father and mother. Mankind was afraid. I took him to my father’s grave, which we buried in the corner of our garden! I cried with Hiqmet over the grave of Xhaxha Haxhiu, I saw the Party people guarding the hut, they thought that Hiqmet came to the village to escape! He knew that he was being watched and guarded, as he had a bitter experience, that he spent all his youth in prison. He had only 3 days leave from the Inner Branch. He remembered a couple of suitcases, which were left to Uncle Haxhiu and an old stroma of his. They were heavy, I helped him down to the field, he left not to return when he was in the village.
These tragic and at the same time scary scenes pierced the screen of my mind. I asked, wondering, who is that greyhound that takes my life. My mind went to that night in August 1969, when my cousin, escaped! Selfua, Bilal Xhaferi and Bajram Shuaipi, I was with them until late that night, it was Bogaz’s feast. Bilal came to visit his sister, Jeta, who is Selfo’s ex-wife. Probably to lose track of extinguishing the suspicion because Bilal was expelled from the Writers and Artists League. Enver’s regime exiled him to the villages of Durrës. I do not know how he could get permission from the Security, as Markati was a border area and every visitor had to have permission from the police.
However, Selfua spread the word that Bilal came to get engaged to a girl in the village, her name was Manushaqe Idrizi, she was from a declassed family and she had grown up in exile together with her father, uncle and some cousins, such as: Rama, Dragua, Met’hati and Idrizi. She was a girl of character, incredibly wise and respected. It would really be an ideal marriage for Selfon for Bilal to marry this girl. Selfua, prepared a dinner, the girl accepted this broker that made Selfua, agreed and next year, the wedding would take place. Everyone in the Selfos family was happy.
I remember when I was a child, I used to look out of the window at the cops in the Selfos yard. I heard the cries of Life. They were not only my cousins but also my childhood friends. They fled to not return to the village for years. Selfos brothers, I do not know why they were not interned?! They were very scared, Dashua and Idrizi were married. In the village, there was still no highway, the three Selfos brothers helped Life with children, all the way down to the field, where the Branch police car was waiting for them.
Now they were here in the village with us and rejoicing over Bilal’s engagement. We stayed up late that evening, though the next day that Bogaz’s feast took place, we decided to go all out. My wife, Mejdua, with whom Selfua married me, had just turned seventeen. Mejdua was pregnant and could not come to Bogaz’s party, so I went with Selfon and his family. At the party came for the first time after many years, Skëndo H… together with Braho E…. Both of them and Dervish E ishin, had fled to Greece. These were sent by the State Security to disperse the fugitives and moreover to inform the Enver regime about the activity of political emigrants who were in Greece. At that time, the leaders of the National Front were conducting a diversion against the communist regime, hoping for a general uprising to overthrow communism in Albania. The head of Balli was Haki Rushiti.
These so-called “Brave” and “Chest” nicknames had become famous, as many gangs of saboteurs fell into the hands of the Security. The spies of Enver Hoxha’s regime, they informed, they were annihilated as they entered the border. Skënder H… and Dervish H… were my father’s first cousins. He asked if I was there at the party, asked to see me. Selfua, who was accompanying him, told him: I have Cason here and he hugged me. I am convinced that, he loved the people of his tribe. He was now a privileged man by the regime.
Around 1.30pm, Selfo came to the shadow of Markat village, and told us he had found a car for Durrës direct. He seemed to be in a hurry! He had told us at home that he would go with Bilal to Durrës, hoping to have a crooked hand operation. We believe it. He returned to the village from lunch the next day. A day later the village was filled with police and Security “greyhounds”.
I remembered all these stories and forgot the physical pain, I did not know what time it was?! I just heard the opening of the “bracelets” with a lot of noise of the iron doors of the dungeons. The cops were shouting, maybe it was morning. The light came on in that hole a couple of feet above the door and it blinded me. The policeman opened the counter, (a small hole in the middle of the door) to look inside the cell. I was as if I had been tied up, in that position, overturned on my right arm and my whole body was numb from not circulating blood. The cops opened the door, they came to my head. I saw Beqo’s muzzle.
– “Choose” – the two police officers were ordered and that “process” took more than five minutes to untie my chains!
Bequa ordered me to go to the dump, which was a door away. I tried to get up, my whole body hurt. I did not even want to go to the bathroom. It seemed to me that all the organs of my body had already ceased to function! I went into that dump that was so stinky, I opened the tap, I took some water to rinse my face, I put it in my dry mouth and I tried to pass down two or three sips of water. Beqoja shouted: “You’re done, get out”!
He put me back in my dungeon that I had scratched, on the heavy iron door, the number 4 was clearly visible. I was waiting to be tied with bars after being pushed inside. They closed the door, leaned against the cell wall, I looked at the door, Bequa had left the aluminum bowl with a colored liquid, I believe it was tea with a piece of dry bread! After a while, he opened the counter and said loudly to me: “Eat the food, the prosecutor will soon come to sign some documents”.
I had heard that the chief prosecutor of the district of Saranda, was a lab called Abaz B…. I did not speak, I had stared at the aluminum bowl, with that turbid water. I was thinking, did they throw in some poisonous substance, chemical, which negatively affects the mind?! As e preka fare, as kisha uri! Waiting anxiously for the surprises of tomorrow.
Less than 10-15 minutes later, Bequa opened the door again, without the bread and the bowl that I had touched at all: “Have you decided not to eat?” – he asked me: “will you die”?! I continued not to reply. Bequa, who had the irons in her hand, ordered me to turn from behind to tie me up. After tying me, he pulled me by the arm, saying: “Come with me.”
At the end of the corridor was an office where a desk on which stood a typewriter and two men sat. I knew one, it was the one who arrested me, Halit K. They did not move from the chairs where they were sitting. Halit K…, with some dirty mustaches under his nose, said gravely: “You must sign this record of your arrest”, and the other one, whose name I did not even know, took the letter out of the typewriter and put it on the table. in front of me.
This was the chief prosecutor of the district, Comrade Abbas B…: “sign”, he ordered me. I, who had not even read it, replied: “I do not sign it”! I could read the first two lines, where it was said: “In the name of the people he is arrested, for hostile activity against the People’s Power”. – He shouted, took off his shoe and hit me on the head with all his might, and sitting down, he ordered the police: “Take this stinking enemy, you know”!
The cops dragged me because I had fallen to the ground from the blow to the head, but I had not lost consciousness! I was thrown like a bundle in the dungeon. They kicked me where they could, I felt from the pain that this was the end! I do not remember what happened that day, June 22, 1973. When I was mentioned, I do not know how many hours later, I could not breathe in pain. I felt wet porridge, the darkness that covered the cell, did not allow me to see the wounds, I moistened the cell with blood. My ribs were broken! Darkness like a black shroud, I with bars in my hands behind my back, lying in pain. I said to myself: Goodbye, as I thought death had come.
When Beqo opened the heavy door again, together with another, he unbuttoned my shirt, the man who was with Beqo untied my handcuffs. He was a nurse and treated my wounds caused by the beatings of the ignorant. Bequa whispered to me: “Why are you torturing yourself, sign?! “Tell me what you did,” Bequa continued. Maybe I should give it a little right! I thought it would not be easier to suffer, if I signed and confessed what they wanted to complete the act – the accusation! That’s how I decided. I do not know if it was night or day. I knew they would come to interrogate me again, as they wanted the arrest report to be signed within 24 hours.
After a while the door opened again, they turned on the light to look inside the cell, two young policemen, picked me up and dragged me to the office, where the two big bellies were waiting. Halit K… who was an investigator and Abaz B. Prosecutor./Memorie.al