Memorie.al publishes the unknown story of the event of August 2, 1967, when three political prisoners of Burrel prison, led by 24-year-old Adem Allçi, originally from a remote village in the border area of Tropoja, after hitting punched the two non-commissioned officers of the internal service and neutralized them, took their door keys, went out into the yard and from there to the terrace, then threw themselves in the direction of the outer barbed wire fence, under the barrage of automatic weapons of the guards. While the convict Adem Allçi managed to pass the siege and run towards the village of Lis i Burrel, Sazan Hadari, originally from Tepelena, who was also the nephew of Shefqet Peçi, remained on the wire sawn by the volley of fire of automatic weapons of the prison guards, while the other convict, Dhori Gërnjoti, originally from the city of Korça and former absolute national champion in the sport of boxing, was wounded in the leg and was caught by the prison guards, several tens of meters away . The testimony of Adem Allçi, one of the main protagonists of that distant event that then alarmed the senior leadership in Tirana, which alerted several large military units such as the Burrel Corps and all the volunteer detachments of the villages of Mat, as well as Enver Hoxha himself, who said to the Minister of Interior: “Hey Kadri, you told us that not even flies can come out…” ?!
It was the evening of August 2, 1967, when a military helicopter taken up somewhere from the new Lapraka runway rushed to the town of Burrel, the then Minister of Internal Affairs, Kadri Hazbiu, his deputy Rexhep Kolli and some other major military of this ministry. What happened that summer evening in that small town where one of the most famous prisons and of a very special importance that Albania had at that time was located?! Radiograms coming to the ministry reported: “The high security prison in Burrel has exploded, the exact number of fugitives is not known.” As the military helicopter landed on the sports field of that small town, where the alarm sirens were not yet ringing, Minister Kadri Hazbiu had memorized the words of Enver Hoxha, who said them just moments before departure on the veranda of his seaside villa. in the “Block” of Durrës: “Hey Kadri, as if you told us that not even flies can get out of there ?!”
Arriving at the Burrel Branch of Internal Affairs where the District Defense Headquarters was waiting for the newcomers waiting from Tirana, Minister Hazbiu would learn the most incredible truth: “The high security prison has exploded due to an internal revolt headed by a 24-year-old from Tropoja, named Adem Allçi”.
The terrible Tropojan who had crossed the border in ’63, riding a horse!?
After the Minister of Internal Affairs, Kadri Hazbiu, was informed by his subordinates about the event that had taken place, he asked them for some preliminary information regarding the convict, Adem Allçi, who had blown up that high security prison. And they informed him that: He is originally from a village in Tropoja located very close to the state border and in 1963, while performing compulsory military service in the district of Gjirokastra, he had benefited from several days of leave given by his superiors. his and had gone to his village, where at 12 o’clock in the afternoon, he had crossed the state border, riding on a white horse. The Yugoslav authorities returned him after a few months and he, after being held in solitary confinement for some time in the Directorate of Internal Affairs of the city of Shkodra, appeared before the court where he was sentenced to 15 years in prison “for high treason”. After the sentence he was kept for some time in the cells of Shkodra, but bringing many problems there, they removed him from there and at the beginning of 1964, they brought him to the Laç camp, where the Superphosphate Plant was being built. After an escape of two convicted persons from this camp, who were killed by our police forces, as a person who posed a high risk of escape, Adem was transferred to Rubik prison. In this prison, he beat and left in serious condition, three police officers who demanded order and discipline of the convicts. After this ugly event, he went back to court and was sentenced to another ten years in prison, and as a very dangerous person, he was brought here to the high security prison.
Burrell Prison, escape plan….?!
Burrel Prison built since the time of King Zog, according to the idea of Prime Minister Koço Kota, had not known until that evening of August 2, 1967, any kind of escape attempt. Adem Allçi, the only character of that sensational event who could “enjoy” only two or three hours of freedom, although he has no desire to remember those events, testifies for the first time for Memorie.al, saying: ” In our room were 25 people all young from 18 to 25 years old. The idea to escape came to me three months before that day. At the beginning of this escape plan, I talked only with two of my closest friends: Sazan Hader from Vlora and Dhori Gërnjot from Korça. Sazani was a very brave boy, he was sentenced like me to 25 years for attempted escape, even though he was the nephew of Shefqet Peçi (sister’s son). Likewise, Dhori was convicted for this, ie for attempting to escape, as he was the absolute champion of Albania in the sport of boxing and after the closure of that men’s sport by the communist government, Dhori decided to leave and continue that sport abroad., as he had it with much passion. After saying that at that time I had two of my closest friends, the decision to escape, I communicated to seven other people with whom we were together in a cell and so we became 10 people in total that we were in be aware of this plan that I had taken and was accepted by them”.
Why did I show his plan for Ademi escape to such a large number of convicts of 10 people that it could create opportunities for deconstruction and the failure of the plan?! Regarding this, he says: “I had taken that into account as well, but I had just agreed with them in principle. So, they would follow me in all my actions during the escape, but I had not shown you any details or plans on how and when this escape would take place. So, neither the date nor the appointed time. “The only thing I had told those ten, was that I would be the leader of the group and everything would be done under my orders and whoever wanted to follow me from behind”, Ademi remembers about his escape plan.
In this regard, Ademi adds that: that someone could escape from there”?! Despite this, he says that the prison command had sniffed something from her informants and based on this fact, in the room of 25 people where Ademi was, she introduced a convict for ordinary crimes who served the command and the prison operative, to who was tasked with closely monitoring the situation. He followed and tried not to escape any action or conversation that took place there. Meanwhile, for two months in a row, a part of the “ten” who had agreed to escape, did all day training in the room practicing wrestling, boxing, dancing, and various exercises.
Regarding this, Adem Allçi recalls: “Every day during those two months I made a new version of the escape plan studied in detail, but without talking to anyone.” On the morning of August 2, 1967, while appealing as usual, Ademi clashed and had a heated debate with the prison commander, Qani Kalon, complaining to him about the conditions of the convicts and at the end of the conversation, in front of all the convicts, Ademi addressed him, saying “Comrade Commander, I do not want to dwell on you anymore, because perhaps these are our last contacts.”
“Nobody paid attention to my words, so I had told the soldiers in Gjirokastra before I left for Yugoslavia, but that day I had decided alive or dead I would definitely get out of that prison,” Ademi recalled regarding the debate he had with the prison commander, after he had shared his mind that he would do something that day…?! Throughout the morning of that day (August 2), Ademi was contemplating the escape plan for the last time and he tells these to everyone individually, to the other nine people who knew and accepted his plan. Meanwhile, Sazan Hadëri and Dhori Gërnjoti assured Adem that they would follow him at every step.
Ademi punches the captain holding the door keys
At 19:30 that afternoon, in room no. 25, entered the guard officer, Capt. Y. L., and began to make the appeal, being accompanied by his colleague H. L., who according to the internal rules of the prison, entered the rooms of the convicts unarmed. After reading the names on the appeal with the list of convicts, Adem Allçi, addressed the guard officer, saying that he had a letter for the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Albanian Labor Party. And indeed, Ademi that afternoon had written a letter to Enver Hoxha, where among other things at the beginning of it, he wrote, “Today here in Burrel, the giant tomb of Albania is opened with these boys who have been unjustly convicted by you and held for dozens of years in these iron cages”.
The letter then continued with a stream of insults about Enver Hoxha himself and some of the other members of the senior leadership of the P.P.Sh at the time. According to the prison regulations, the command only opened letters that convicts sent to their families, while letters they sent to senior officials and political figures were not allowed to be opened, and in cases of doubt, they had the right to was opened only by the Internal Affairs Branch of the district. Thus, Ademi was not afraid of any possibility of the prison command opening the envelope, which would automatically lead to the failure of the escape plan. As soon as Ademi addresses the guard officer saying “I have this envelope for the First Secretary of the Central Committee”, according to the regulations, he says: “Get out of the line and bring it”. Adam extends the envelope with his left hand, and with his right-hand hits it, knocking it to the ground unconscious.
Meanwhile, according to the plan they had made, Dhori and Sazani hit the other guard, leaving him unconscious. At this point, Ademi takes the key ring from Captain Y. L. and exits at the end of the cell corridor, opening the large iron door that leads to the ventilation yard. From there he goes out into the yard, jumps, and hangs with his hands on a concrete shelter (penicillin) that protected from the rain one of the doors that communicated as a spare door to enter the corridor of the cells. After climbing with great difficulty above that concrete shelter, Ademi extends and helps Sazani and Dhori, who without much difficulty, climbed on the terrace of the prison, which was no more than 50 cm. over the door shelter.
Throwing from the roof of the prison and…
The whole prison was sounded the alarm, as the ordinary prisoner who had entered the room of the 25 young men, hung on a window holding on to the bars and shouted loudly. Immediately, from all the service guard towers, the soldiers opened fire with automatic weapons and machine guns, initially targeting the terrace where they climbed, which made it impossible for others to approach to climb there. As they climbed to the terrace, Ademi, Sazani, and Dhori, at an interval of two to three seconds, were thrown from the terrace to the ground, at the back of the prison on its eastern side, which was soft, grassy ground.
After being thrown there, they hurried towards the outer perimeter of the prison, which consisted of a barbed wire fence about two feet [2 m] high. The outer barbed wire fence, from the cell wall, was at a distance of less than 10 meters, and in front of it, there was a deep trench, insulated with live wire. After the three of them crossed the trench, they were quickly thrown through the concrete pillars used to hold the barbed wire of the outer enclosure. While Ademi and Dhori were able to cross the high columns and get out of the prison territory, their friend, Sazan Hadëri, remained hanging on the concrete pillar on the wire, because the bullets of the service guards killed him.
After a while, at a distance of no more than 100 to 150 m. away from the outside encirclement, a bullet also hit Dhori in the right leg, severely damaging his bone. Ademi tried to help him, but everything was impossible, as Dhori not only could not move his leg anymore, but his feelings were leaving him and he fell into a state of fiction. While Dhori lay unconscious on the ground, the barrage of gunfire of all the prison guards who had taken up position on his terrace were directed towards Ademi. In addition to the prison, the alarm was sounded in the town of Burrel, where one of the largest military units in the country, known as the “Burrel Corps”, was concentrated. Also, a few moments after this alarm, in all the villages of the district of Mat, the “consecration” was given and all the volunteer detachments (armed reserve military units) were taken to a general alarm.
This happened with the neighboring districts with Mat, such as Mirdita, Peshkopia, Kruja, etc. Meanwhile, from Tirana, in addition to the helicopter that brought the main officials of the Ministry of Interior, two other helicopters were flying in the direction of Burrel, some members of the Special Forces of the Intelligence Brigade of the Ministry of Defense, concentrated in Zall Herr.
While all this was happening, the political prisoner Adem Allçi, who had managed to blow up the high security prison, ran back and forth in the direction of the village of Lis, which was approximately 12 km away. away from the town of Burrel, in order to go in the direction of Mount Deja. While he had been walking for more than an hour, always running, he was followed by the police forces and soldiers of the Burrel Corps, as well as those of the volunteer forces of the surrounding villages.
Capture and arrest in Lis village
Somewhere near the village of Lis, while trying to cross a stream, Ademi falls unconscious on a tuff bank. Lying alone, he could see a bullet wound in the back, but did not know when he was wounded. From the pain of the wound and from the great fatigue, as he had been running for about two hours without resting, Ademi could no longer move. In a state of near fiction, he could hear the officers’ voices approaching and the barking of dogs.
Shortly afterwards, on that hillside near the village of Lis, on the unconscious body of Adem Allçi, some officers (officers) were thrown, from the most prepared and trained that the Reconnaissance Battalion had, tying that leg and hand with rope… Meanwhile in downtown Burrell, a gathering of people who had come and from the surrounding villages, most of whom were armed, was ordered.
On a podium set up somewhere in the main square of the town of Burrel, had taken place the high military and civil authorities of that district, and those who came from Tirana. Meanwhile, some police officers tied Adem Allçi with ropes and with them was reinforced a “Security Company” with soldiers that had accompanied him all the way from the village of Lis to the center of Burrel. After the rally where the numerous party and military authorities who had taken their seats on the podium spoke to the people about the “success achieved”, Adem was first sent to the Internal Affairs Branch of that city, from where a few days later he would be a “model trial”, where he was lying on a stretcher of torture inflicted on him.
The death penalty and…
The court sentenced him to death, by firing squad, accusing him of “terrorism”, and pending an answer from the People’s Assembly on whether his life would be spared or the court’s decision executed, Adem was then sent back to the security prison. high from where he had been able to “enjoy” freedom for only two hours. Thus, being the first and last prisoner to have been able to break the iron siege from 1945 to 1991. In the 47 years of existence of that political prison in the service books, it would be marked as the only escape of sensational that of Adem Allçi.
Meanwhile, in the late hours of the night of August 2, 1967, Kadri Hazbiu had descended from the military helicopter somewhere on the outskirts of Tirana and had taken the road towards the city of Durrës, to go to the “Block” of government villas, where Enver Hoxha, awaiting awake the news of the capture of the dangerous rebel originating from Tropoja.
Who after that event gained great fame in all the camps and prisons of the communist regime where he served his sentence until April 30, 1990. And with him his four brothers would be sentenced, being a rare and unique case in Albania, where all together until 1990, suffered a full 118 years of imprisonment and exile./Memorie.al