The third part
Memorie.al/publikon the unknown story of Jetullah Gashi, originally from the village of Mramor in Prishtina, who in 1964, when he was a high school student, decided to flee and cross the state border in the area of the village of Zogaj in the district of Tropoja, where for several days, interrogating him in the Internal Affairs Branch of the city “Bajram Curri”, they brought him to the town of Shijak, placing him in a State Security base, which was called “The filtering center of Kosovar emigrants”, who were fleeing Yugoslavia and coming to Albania, where for several months he was subjected to intensive investigation by State Security officers coming from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and covering “Kosovo emigration”.
He was sent to the district of Korça where he finished high school in the town of Maliq and then in Tirana, where he attended higher university studies at the Faculty of Medicine, which he completed in 1971 and was appointed in Elbasan as a nearby doctor. the hospital of that city. His arrest in 1977 after some time of surveillance and persecution by the State Security organs, “as an agent of the UDB”, where after several months of inhuman torture, he was sentenced to 25 years in political prison, which suffered in the camps of Spaç, Qafë-Barit, Burrel, etc., the extraordinary gesture of Jetullah Gashi when he was serving his sentence, handing over the white shirt of the doctor and working in shifts in the gallery of Spaç, from where he was released at the beginning of 1991, with the overthrow of the communist regime.
It was August 30, 1964, when I, after cutting the train ticket from Prishtina to Skopje (where I was working with my father), all the way, I was just thinking how I would get to Albania, which I had been grinding for so many days. in head. At that time, I did not have any information about the state border, Yugoslavia – Albania and based on this fact, I went to the bus station in Skopje, where I cut the bus ticket to Gjakova and arrived there in the late hours of the night. I got off the bus and did not know where to go, as I had never been to Gjakova. I made every effort to avoid people and took the road that had less traffic. At the end of this road, I saw a bakery, bought some buns and continued the same road direction in the dark of night. On the right side of the road, I saw a fence, which I crossed and entered the garden. I decided to sleep there. Near the siege, I found a safe place that protected me, as occasionally there was dog barking, but after a while they ceased. Tired I had fallen asleep. I woke up in the morning, after looking around the place, got up, crossed the fence and went out on the street again. My cousin Kadriu had told me that the border to Albania crosses the tops of some bare hills “. This is how 75-year-old Jetullah Gashi from Kosovo remembers the moment of his escape from Yugoslavia to Albania, where he was arrested after graduating from the Faculty of Medicine in Tirana and serving as a doctor for several years in the hospital of the city of Elbasan, in April 1977. by the State Security, being charged as a “UDB agent” and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Torture during the investigation and the sentence of 25 years in prison, the long ordeal in the camps and prisons of the communist regime of Enver Hoxha until the beginning of 1991, being released with the last convicts who came out of the “communist hell”, leaving for Switzerland to his relatives, returning to Albania and finally leaving for Kosovo, where he still lives with his family. Regarding these and other events and facts from his painful life, doctor Jetullah Gashi, testifies exclusively for Memorie.al
Continued from the previous issue
Mr. Jetullah, after that, did you travel with your parents to Korça or Elbasan?
At that time, I was living and working in Elbasan, so after we got in the taxi with my parents, we left for my house, in an apartment in Elbasan, taking Riza and Isuf with me.
Did the parents who came for the joy of your engagement meet Susanna?
I had informed Hajdari, Suzana’s father, about the arrival of my parents, and he told me: “Wait two days to get rid of the goods, and then I will inform you, and you will come to Korça”. In the meantime, I had taken the usual leave, to spend as much time with my parents as possible. After three days had passed, Hajdari was not calling us to leave for Korça, and in this situation, I talked to Riza separately, telling him, what will be the problem?
What did Rizai tell you, did he know that, why was not Hajdari calling?
Rizai with his father and Isuf, were out and walking, he breaks away at one point and calls from the post office, Hajdari. Hajdari had told him that: they would come to Elbasan, that it was impossible for them to wait for us in Korça, because their youngest son, Saimiri, was with school exams in Tirana and he wanted to be present at the meeting with My parents. So, we do not have to leave for Korça, ‘Rizai told me.
So, they came to Elbasan?
This is what happened, Hajdari with his wife and Suzana came to meet my parents in Elbasan. They stayed in Elbasan for two days, as I had reserved a room for them in the hotel and they enjoyed meeting my family. So, the few days they stayed in Elbasan, we had lunch and dinner together, and Suzana and I had the opportunity to go for a walk. Suazan was pleased with the gifts my parents brought from Kosovo. After two days, they left for Korça, traveling by train to Pogradec. When I was escorting them to the train station, they told me that very soon, we were invited to their house in Korça and they would tell us the exact day, as they were waiting for their little boy to call them. Saimiri, who was waiting to take the exams.
What happened next, you were informed to go to Korça?
The days and weeks of May passed, and no news came from Hajdari that we should leave for Korça, according to the word they had told us when I escorted them to the train station in Elbasan. So, given this delay, I talked in particular again with Riza, telling him if he could call Hajdari, as my parents were approaching the day to leave Albania and I felt embarrassed that we were not being given the opportunity to go to Korça, to Suzana’s house. Rizai called Hajdari and he said: “I’m sorry, but Saimiri (son) cannot get permission, so wish good luck to us, Jetullahi’s parents.”
Were you normally upset about the fact that your parents did not have the opportunity to go to Suzana’s house in Korça?
On May 25, the day my parents were about to leave, I ordered a taxi and together with Riza and Isufi, my parents, we set off for the Qafë-Thana border crossing, where we accompanied my mother and father with great pain. I worked as a doctor in the hospital of Elbasan, where I mostly stayed as a doctor on duty. Since I worked as a doctor on duty, part of it was paid to me and part of it was paid on holidays. I communicated with Susanna regularly, as they had a telephone at home and our relationship was quite good, and she could not wait to meet me. Meanwhile, with the vacations I had accumulated, I left for Korça, after that we met a couple more times, once in August, when I went to Korça and stayed for three days, another time from October, Suzana came with my parents in Elbasan, where I again booked him a hotel room. Meanwhile, both of us, Suzana and I, were making plans for our future and I was expecting to get a house (volunteer housing), but this was taking a while. When suddenly, one night before they returned to Korça, Hajdari (Suzana’s father), I noticed that he was withdrawn in conversations with me, and my mother told me: “When will I finish the apartment, so that we can get the house “And revolted she continued:” I have heard many words spoken about Kosovars coming to Albania, as it is said that they are suspicious people. ”
How did you respond to her accusatory words?
I was shocked by these thoughts and so was Suzana, but I did not respond at all, so as not to aggravate the situation. The next day they left without meeting me, although I went to the hotel to escort them.
Did your connection work after that?
Hajdari locked Suzana at home, leaving no possibility of communication even with her relatives, which was against Suzana’s will. Hajdari, manipulated by his friends and comrades like Ismail Porodina, made every effort and managed to break this engagement, to interrupt our dreams and our love!
Did you discuss this problem with Riza and Isuf?
Of course, I thought to them, asking what I could do, but they knew Hajdari well and the connections he had with Lirim Pëllumbi, the man who held senior leadership positions in the State Security.
What did they suggest to you?
Rizai suggested that I send a letter to Kadri Hazbi, the Minister of Internal Affairs, stating the situation I was in, as the man who was ruining my engagement was his subordinate.
Did you send a letter to Kadri Hazbi?
After many dilemmas, I decided to write to the Minister, Kadri Hazbi, in detail, leaving no doubt without expressing. I wrote him a 13-page letter, wrapped it in an envelope and left for Tirana, thinking that I would make every effort to give the letter to Kadri Hazbi. After I went to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, I addressed the guard officer, where I told him that I was Jetulla Gashi, I live in Elbasan, I am a doctor originally from Kosovo and I want to meet the minister.
Did you get the opportunity to meet Kadri Hazbiu?
The guard officer, after listening to me attentively, went inside and came out after 10 minutes, and told me that the minister was not there that day. But I could meet Shaban Brahan, who received me in the office, where after we greeted each other and asked the usual questions, I turned to him, telling him if he could help me meet Minister Kadri Hazbiu, explaining to him details of some unjust interventions in my family life, by a senior official in that ministry.
How did Shabani respond?
Shaban Braha, told me: “Hand me the letter, because today the minister is not, but do not worry, tomorrow I will give it to you and I will inform you of any ambiguity”. I gave him the letter and left, having full confidence in Shaban Braha.
Did you get any answer from Kadri Hazbiu?
During 1976, until April 23, 1977, I continued to work as a doctor in the hospital of Elbasan and in the Central Polyclinic, but during that time I did not receive any response. From the end of February, or the beginning of March 1977, I happened to see in Elbasan, Shaban Braha, the man to whom I handed the letter, with whom we exchanged, looked each other in the eye and greeted each other with our heads. I thought he would stop meeting me and tell me any developments about the letter I had delivered, but no, that did not happen!
How did the events of your life go?
At the end of March 1977, the Director of the Hospital called me and informed me that in April, I had to do a month of physical work, which was mandatory at that time for all staff, including us doctors.
Where did you do the physical work?
I had two choices to do the physical work, one in the village of Shtëmbar, and the other in Bradashësh, at the greenhouses. I thought better in Bradashesh, since you had an urban line. So, on April 1, 1977, I showed up at Bradashesh greenhouses to start physical work, which was not difficult. We started the work at 7 in the morning and finished it at 13.00 in the afternoon. And then we returned to Elbasan by bus. On April 23, 1977, after getting off the bus, on the way to the apartment, I met Halim Sadiku, an acquaintance of mine, and on the way, we described, he invited me to play chess, at his house, and so it was. At the beginning of the second game, the doorbell rang, Halimi opened the door and turned and said to me: “They are looking for you at the Polyclinic, to replace a colleague who is absent today at work.” I went out immediately and told the driver of the Emergency who was by ambulance in front of the palace, that they should have notified me, as I was doing physical work.
Did you go to the Polyclinic to replace your colleague?
I left Halim’s house and went to my apartment, where Rizai said to me: “They came to ask from the Polyclinic”? “Yes, they came to Halim’s house and I told them I could not go, because they had to inform me in advance that I was doing manual labor.” At that moment, the ambulance came again in front of our apartment. The three of us were looking out of the window at the ambulance and Rizai turned to me and said: “Go Jetulla once, see how they are”! I took the stethoscope and went to the ambulance, where I was very soon in the Polyclinic, I rushed to the Emergency, but a nurse came in front of me, who said: “There is no problem doctor, because we found the replacement”.
Did you return to the apartment afterwards?
No, I did not return, as the nurse informed me that all the staff had meetings and if I wished I could attend.
Did you attend this meeting?
Yes, of course, I went straight into the meeting room, and when I found a place in the middle of the room where there were two empty chairs, I sat down in one of them. On the podium, in front of us, were sitting three people. In the empty chair next to me sat a person who was not of the staff, but as a face I had seen in Elbasan. The head nurse, who opened the meeting, spoke about the successes and results achieved in Health and the good work that our team had done, serving the people. At that moment, the Chairman of the Internal Affairs Branch, Gëzim Hila, entered the hall, and the persons on the podium rose to their feet as soon as he entered the hall. He gave permission to the head nurse to continue her speech where she had left it and she diligently said: “While all the senior and junior staff of our hospital have served the people with dedication, there are those who have not done so. this service. For example, Jetullag Gashi is one of them “. As soon as I heard those words, I stood up and said, “Here I am.” Meanwhile, two or three people I did not know, but approached me and said: “In the name of the people and the People’s Power, you are under arrest.”
How did you react?
I said, “Not in the name of the people, but…”, and I could not finish the sentence, because three people jumped on me, tying my hands and hitting me.
Where did they take you after they were arrested?
The Department of Internal Affairs in Elbasan is very close to the Polyclinic, about 100 m. and we walked that road, demonstratively, to unmask me, even in front of people who could see me, as most of the city knew me as a doctor. After many years in prison, but even now that I am free, I never forget the moment of my arrest!
But why did your arrest happen?
I say publicly for the first time, that for my fate, that is, for my arrest, had decided: Shaban Braha, Lirim Pëllumbi, Deputy Director of State Security (friend of my ex-father-in-law), in cooperation with the Branch of Interior of Elbasan.
What were they accused of?
I was accused of: “I and Flutura Bajrami, with whom I worked, left to escape on April 13, 1977”. In fact, it was a fabrication, because in that period, I continued to work in the greenhouses of Bradashesh. As I told you above, from April 1 to April 23, 1977 (the day I was arrested), I was in forced physical labor and this was quite simple to prove because there were numerous witnesses, but this did not it happened and with all the possible manipulations made by the investigator, I was accused of trying to escape with Flutura Bajrami.
Do you remember any of the names of those who arrested you?
I did not know those three people who arrested me, who then took me to a room in the Elbasan Branch of Internal Affairs. Two of them left, the person who remained there was the one who sat in the meeting, in the chair next to me. After squeezing the irons in my hands as much as he could, he said to me: “Do not forget, we know you very well, we know and under what circumstances you became an enemy of the Party and the people.” I objected, but he punched me in the chest, screaming and insulting me and shaking my hands, which were inserted into the bars, which caused me great pain. So, he continued to mistreat and blackmail me until late. On the morning of April 24, I was taken out of the dungeon and taken to the second floor, to the interrogation room. In that room I was facing investigators who were not at all interested in the truth. But they kept telling me that ‘I was a conspiratorial enemy of popular power’ and that they were convinced that I would not accept anything, ‘but let us show it’, they addressed me. Thus, who could do more, to show zeal in front of each other, threatening me and hitting me.
Did he know those people who they were?
They were: Zeqir Maçka, Xhelil Xhikollari and Përparim Ibrahimi. I tried to tell those monsters that since I was in physical work in Bradashesh, I had worked with a senior employee of theirs, who worked in the Executive Committee of Elbasan, I wanted to tell them that these were not real accusations, those for which I was being tortured and accused. But it was impossible, as Zeqir Maçka got up from his chair enraged and addressed me, insulting me and hitting me again.
How long did your investigation last?
The investigation continued intensively, day and night, with three shifts, 18-19 hours a day, with uninterrupted weeks and months, torturing me in all ways. Zeqir Maçka was the most diligent in torture, while the others, not in the size of Zeqir./Memorie.al