By Father Zef Pllumi
The first part
-Different portraits of prisoners-
Memorie.al / Dear reader, from the beginning of this chapter I must declare that what I am writing cannot be reality itself, but only my personal impressions or even those of a group that thought like me. I have no intention of insulting anyone, let alone accusing him. In this chapter, I only present the part of a Cicero, which is associated with a gallery of figurative arts, certainly not in those of Emperors and Kings, Dukes and Popes found in Versailles, the British Museum, Tetriakovski, the Escurial or the Vatican, but in a dark gallery of prisons, where tyranny, for its own appointed purposes, unites all kinds of people. In fact, there could be countless, but I have chosen in the description, those that are closest to my personal tastes.
Here I do not intend to describe any Catholic priest, because all of them came from the classical Greco-Roman schools, where types like Lycurgus or Mucius Scevolas were formed, with the exception of any pharaoh. I just think of joining them in a dark gallery, where the tyranny had brought together in one place, with equal conditions, the cream of Albanian culture, with the peak of honest, ignorant Albanian naivety, as well as with all the vile Albanian life. Of course, it is not easy, but good will overcomes obstacles.
– When I first announced him in the Reps of Mirdita, he was a young man in a turban, with the physical features of a foxy man that reminded you of the words of our old highlanders; “a lame is three times the devil”. There was a mechanical high school, from which, when he finished, he was appointed manager of an excavator “Voronezh”, which came to Albania at that time. He was single; he was assigned to one of the towns of Shkodra, where he had worked for many years with friends of his profession. Life and work in those countries, where he opened channels, he got to know many people, with whom he was connected with friendship and love. Originally, I came from Konispoli, but by now, I was grafted with the customs, virtues, vices and thoughts of the Catholic peasants.
He had gained sympathy for them, so much so that he even thought of tying his life with those people. Due to various circumstances, which the reason of the heart does not foresee, he married the “goer” with a beautiful girl from the citizen families of Shkodra, who at that time had enough power in political life, so he settled in the center of the city, with his new family. But in life things don’t always go smoothly, because the opposite winds often blow.
With the death of the Director of the Department of Internal Affairs, General Hilmi Seiti, a death that occurred under very mysterious circumstances of the Albanian Security, he saw himself followed by traces, as if almost all the Chams were at that time. He thought of escaping and luck knocked on his door. At the time when work began on the realization of the project for the construction of the Gjegjani mine, near Kuksi, he took advantage of the fact that he was there near the border and crossed into Yugoslavia.
There they imprisoned him as a “Security agent” and after an investigator subjected him to severe torture, they returned him to Albania, together with his assistant, Zijadin Ftera. I believe that the truth about the secret cooperation between the Albanian Security and the Yugoslavian UDB has never been known, because the prisons of both countries were full of unfortunate people who were victims of this secret cooperation.
After all the trials, the court here sentenced him to 20 years in prison. Meanwhile, it should be mentioned that at the time when he was on the run, he had left his pregnant wife, two months before giving birth. Through the friends of Shkodra, he once found out that he had a son from her, but the woman, who took him away from the family, divorced him and married someone else.
These were the problems that plagued him more than the diseases, such as the damage to a ring of the spine, caused by the fall from the scaffolding of the fourth floor, as well as the colitis disease that gave him great pain in his stomach. My efforts for him were only “calming the pain”, through words and advice, because the pain of the human soul is stronger than that of the body. Here I always had in mind the saying of Hippocrates of Greek wisdom, that; “A person is cured by medicine, a knife or sound or a good word”.
When, after the stomach surgery, I had a crisis of intestinal obstruction (illius) and was admitted to the small infirmary of the camp, I found Mehmet also admitted. He himself was suffering from pain, but when he saw me in that state, he forgot himself, he got out of bed, he was very concerned about my life, and he tried by all means to prolong my life even when I was unconscious and incomprehensible. I don’t know what’s going on.
Only when I came back and recovered from the hospital did I find out everything. It is natural that from that day I gained a complete trust in him, which I kept throughout my life spent in prison, after many years we continued the sentence together, he always found friends, mainly with moral help, because both we were without economic aid. One day he is telling me:
– Gani Tartari, Chairman of the Council of Reeducation, you know him, he was convicted with Teme Sejko’s group, and he offered me to work as a camp barber. I didn’t accept, although I really need it, because that job is very favorable for me and it pays quite well.
– Why didn’t you accept it?
– How do I accept it? You know yourself that the back-office workers are all command people. I have tried this for several years in prison, and I don’t want to get dirty.
– I think you can do the barber job well and you don’t need to do the command job. If you have so much to talk with Ghana, say bluntly: I’m a barber, but not a command spy.
– I entered there, the prisoners will speak.
– Of course they will talk. You know very well that from the command people themselves, words are spread from ear to ear, for all honest people: “Beware of him because he is a spy”.
Not only here in the prison, but also outside, State Security has used this method to isolate many people; of course they talk about me and you, and about more honest people. Listen, boy, a proverb says: “The words of the link and the bars of the fence are never closed”. They talked about Christ and Our Lady, and they won’t talk about us?! Listen to me: do the good work, but never the bad. Do you know Ghana? They told me that he is a shoemaker. What did he have to do with Teme Sejko?
– He is a Cham from Konispoli. Don’t you know that the “Group of Teme Sejkos”, as it was put on stage with the great trial, is a trillium, from which all the Chams fell victims, as well as the Vlachs?
– I do not believe. Dealing with the Soviet Union could not be passed so easily. Do you know what the KGB is?
– I know very well that the Soviet Union is a superpower that didn’t give a damn about Albania, and even less about Enver Hoxha, how it didn’t give a damn about Budapest or Prague, but entered by force. She alone with the fleet she had in Orikum occupied this place for three hours. Khrushchev, in the secret meeting with Kennedy in Vienna, committed to withdrawing from Pashaliman, as it was a very advanced and disturbing base for the West.
Enver called this compromise treason. The Soviets left on their own and we didn’t take them out, moreover, just so you know they left without any luggage being checked and so, with the triple high salaries they had here, they bought all the visas and precious stones, rings, bracelets and pegs who had excesses in the women’s synagogues, leaving this country in great poverty.
Therefore, Enveri demanded that the State Security, as well as the Military Forces, come before the world with a big propaganda, where the “Albanian Epic” was presented against a superpower. These events were organized by the State Security. I talked to all my Chams. They believe that they knew my father, Azem Beu, who was the terror of the Greeks. They are all innocent, lied to and fooled. From what I have been told, this story has a beginning.
On the occasion of the mysterious death of General Hilmi Seiti, this Cham too, at his grand funeral in Shkodër, almost all Chams took part. At this time, a plan was proposed to Admiral Teme Sejko by the higher authorities. The Party of Power, they told him, is closer than ever, because until today the honors and credits for all achievements have been left to the Soviet Union.
In this new situation, a major propaganda is required to fill the mind of the world and the country, that it was the Mother Party and the State that ruled Albania and not the Russians. Therefore, the plan was made to accuse some military and civil authorities, mostly closer to Pashaliman, who, connected with the Soviets, sought to overthrow the government in Albania. He was told that this accusation was completely imaginary, because the Party knew that it had no enemies in Albania.
Therefore, the accusation that was made had to be accepted, as a Party duty. Naturally, she, knowing the truth, would develop a long process, while the treatment of the “accused” would be very good, privileged, but secret. There would be a public trial, which after proving the “guilt” would give the decisions, which would never be implemented, because the truth was different and the Party knew that.
Admiral Teme Sejko, who did not even know what State Security, was, agreed to sacrifice himself for the Party. It never occurred to him that even his friend, whose funeral he went to, was probably the first victim of this diabolical plan. The process began and other characters appeared, important and unimportant, witnesses of every kind appeared.
Those who did not accept were eliminated during the process, including Taho Sejko, at that time the director of the Automotive Park of Shkodra. I have shown it once again, that I have seen it with my own eyes and I have read the letter that our Hoxha of the Chams N.N. (so it is called, because he did his higher studies in Romania) and was the editor-in-chief of the “Voice of the People”.
The letter was this: “To Comrade Enver Hoxha, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the ALP. I have performed the task that the Party entrusted to me with devotion. I don’t understand why you always keep me locked up here etc. Etc…! I ask for your intervention”! Do you see how far the idiocy called “ideal of the Party” had reached? In this group there are also some leaders, such as Tahir Demi.
A vile trap was laid for him. See that Nasho, that brigadier of shepherds, Nasho Gërxhon. You see? How does it look? With which the shepherds grazed the cattle up to the Greek border. Their Brigadier, Nashua, was the most trusted man in the Security. This Nasho was called one day at State Security and told: “Nasho, you will meet with the president Tahir Demi”.
“But why me with this job! We are uneducated children who don’t even know how to count numbers, let alone talk to adults.”
“You are an artist, Nasho, we know that because we appointed you brigadier”.
“And why do I need to meet him? I who deal with dogs”?
“No, that’s what we want, that’s why we put them there. Do you understand that we could put others in those positions as well”?
“I know this and I owe them.”
“Then this is how you will act. On Monday, at ten o’clock, you will go to the village club X. There you will block the club and throw everyone out.”
“Should I block the club? I have no money.”
“Yes, where are we who pay?” Here is one hundred thousand ALL”.
“And what to do with them?”
“Bring everyone out of the club. People will complain. You stay there and don’t open the door to anyone, except the Chairman of the Executive Committee.”
“Is he coming?”
“It turns out that he doesn’t do it. The issue will be a little alarmed and when he comes, tell him that the needs of the data are not like those of offices or artistic groups. Also look for an artistic group for shepherds. What’s wrong here? Do you agree”? “Yes”. “Here’s a hundred thousand ALL, to block the club for two hours. But, in your conversation with the President, there will be no one”.
This scene really came true. Conclusion: the accusation against Tahir Demi, which was proven by the main witness, Nasho Gërxho, is followed by 10-15 other shepherds.
Only after the death sentence given by the court, Teme Sejko died, put aside the ideal of the Party and joined the reality of life. According to the procedure, he had the right to the “last word”. Only there he spoke properly. He declared that this was a task assigned to him by the Party, that he had not developed any political-military activity with the Soviets, against the Albanian state. He declared that this trial was organized at the request of the Party, which we also fulfilled his last wishes, sacrificing the honor as a citizen and Party member.
It was all a fabrication coming from the Party and signed by us. This last word, there is an unexpected bomb which destroyed every action of the Security. The truth was told and the big lie was exposed. After the announcement of the decision, which was accompanied by a great silence, the convicts did not see each other anymore. All those who had listened to the words of Teme Sejko, suffered five years of isolation, often they were even called “dungeon spies”, that is, they took others by the neck.
5 years in solitary confinement would be enough to erase from their memory what was said in that last session of the court. This was the great trick of the State Security. Generally that’s what happened. During those five years of isolation in prison, what Teme Sejko said was forgotten, and only what the party announced as a servant remained…! These were the memories of my friend, Mehmet Isufi.
This meant the disappearance of the truth, so that only the word of the party remains in the minds of Albanians. Thus, the entire national history, as well as literature, music, visual arts and the entire thought of the people had to be idiotized to the point where they knew nothing but to kneel servilely and devoutly before the idol Enver. This was, almost, the biggest loss that was given to the Albanian people. If this were accomplished, they would become heroes and traitors in the memory of those who would come back.
– You are right here, – I told him. – There in the first prison in Shkodër, we had a director, a good and honest man, even though he was a communist. His name was Shyqyri Rrjolli. After a few years, when we were released from that first sentence, he had met one of my colleagues and in the course of the conversation, he had said: “Look, boy, don’t be nostalgic for the past time.
It won’t come back, because if today (we were talking about the year 1956), we give the power to the communists, and they don’t need it, because we have twisted it blacker than a rag’s hair. You will search and find the thread, but the thread cannot be found even for 50 years, if all the scholars of the world come here”. Proverb that there is no beyond.
We met Mehmet again after many years, in the suburbs of Tirana, at the end of 1990, when it was thought that Albanian communism was in its last throes. We were thought to be free. Our ideal was the Albanian people, their progress and prosperity.
He thought of participating in politics in the first half of December 1990, before Sabri Godo’s “Republican Party” appeared. They know that he had nothing to do with Ramiz Alina, nor with the judges, etc., his life was threatened, that’s why he chose political exile, where he always continues, here with tears, we let down the new Albanian democracy. Memorie.al
The next issue follows