By Ylli Tabaku
Memorie.al publishes the memoirs of the former prisoner and political internee, Ylli Tabaku, originally from Tirana, suckling of one of the rich families of the capital, where his father, Ramazan Tabaku, after giving aid and large financial amounts for Peza’s gang during the period of the National Liberation War, after the end of the War, for his contribution, was appointed as Chairman of the Collection Office and in 1947, was sentenced to life imprisonment in the trial of the “Group of Deputies”, which which had come after a debate he had had with Enver Hoxha at the Hotel “Dajti”, where he had asked him not to seize the assets of those who had helped the War. Ramazan Tabaku’s long ordeal in communist prisons and the brutal persecution of his entire family, from his wife and almost all the sons and daughters of that family, who ended up in prisons and internment camps, until the fall of that regime , or they could escape from Albania. All these are described in the memoirs of Ylli Tabaku, (published in his book “Escape”, published by the Institute for the Study of the Consequences of the Crimes of Communism, with foreword by the scholar and historian Kastriot Dervishi), who suffered for 26 years, 8 months and 24 days in the prisons of the communist regime of Enver Hoxha and managed to leave Albania in 1990, (with the events of July 2 of the embassies), living in Germany, until 2021, which was suddenly separated from life, without first seeing the publication of his book!
Memories of the former prisoner and political internee, Ylli Tabaku, who suffered 26 years, 8 months and 24 days in the prisons of the communist regime of Enver Hoxha
Continued from the previous issue
In Tirana Prison, ‘Ward 313’
“From experience,” I told him.
-Okay, tell us what this experience is? He added.
-If I told you, you close that window from where I look and I will remain in the dark, and I will not know, where it will enter and where it will come out, and what surrounds me, – I said.
“We have orders from the hospital doctors for the disease you have, which in no case should we leave you alone in the cell, because it is dangerous for you,” the investigator continued, and that was it.
Then, they sent me back to the dungeon, just as I was half naked. I started to sneeze a lot and I had a fever. It was not long before I came back to the cell, the food came and I started eating, but it was impossible, because the spoon, instead of putting it in my mouth, went to my ear, I was shaking so much. Well, – I said to myself, – even if I do ten years in prison, I will get out of these 50 years, they will put me in prison again and I decided to end my life. “I will refuse insulin,” I said to myself, “by not taking insulin, death is certain,” I thought.
The next day the nurse came, as usual to give me insulin.
-Let’s make insulin.
-What insulin, – I said, – I do not have diabetes, I did it myself because I am sick, I have nothing.
-Hour Star, are you on your own? What are these you say? Come on, get ready, take the insulin, and do not do numbers, because these are no longer jokes.
– Go away, – I said, do not insist in vain, I do not intend to make the needle. There were about four policemen there, and he explained to them the importance of that needle, and even told you the truth.
-This, if he did not make the needle, he will die. Then they attacked me with all kinds of insults and threats, to force me to continue the treatment, one of them even said to me: – Do not do it, because here you will die.
Wow, – I reacted, – but you will die on the moon, because you are a policeman, you will also die here. One of them told him not to itch, that he did well. The one who spoke, many times, when he closed the door of my dungeon, when I returned from personal needs, told me not to be upset, that I had one more padlock than him.
I was taken to the investigator. The investigator came to me dressed and clothed in a large coat, with a scarf and gloves, as a man wears in winter, and said to me: -Why not make the needle? – I do not like to live this life anymore, I left it to you, because you have the opportunity to face this cold winter, with this temperature 8 to 10 degrees minus, while I with a thin shirt, short sleeves, without rowers and without socks, I cannot afford it.
So I tell you, if within an hour, you do not bring me here three regular blankets, which not only belong to me, but also to my state of health, and these rags which I have to change me; also bring me all my winter clothes I have at home; my decision is not reversed, and you know my character well. The investigator completed everything I asked for and I continued to live.
In court, on 9.3.1981
The Day of Judgment has come. I went to court. I had no protection, because at that time it was not allowed. The presiding judge, Bashkim Xhafa, was appointed. Read the indictment, with which I certainly did not agree. I told him I did not accept it. I only accepted that my name was Ylli Tabaku and nothing from the others. He continued to call witnesses. They were two brothers from the village, a former convict and a former prisoner, who was still serving his sentence in Ballsh.
For the latter, the judge stated that: he is ill with bed rest. I knew that the investigator had told me: “You are such an enemy that even our people do not accept to be witnesses.”
In fact, the statement against me was made by another person, whom they did not want to discredit, because they kept it ‘secret’. Instead, they used a character that had run out of paint, but in fact he, in my case, refused to testify to the “prison father” that he would win the hatred of the whole camp. He had even been promised that; they would release him on “condition”, but he would rather suffer, even the three years of imprisonment he had left, than testify against me.
The judge continued to call the next witness, the former prisoner. He spoke some nonsense, so much so that I, with the experience I had, could not speak to the son of a colonel in the service, I could never speak.
It was the turn of the first villager. I remember that he said: I had talked about my brothers in America, who were paid a lot and not like us, who were paid only 10 ALL per day. In fact, we were paid only 10 new ALL for day. This was a truth and some other lies I do not remember.
It was the turn of the second villager: “I have my way to work together with the defendant,” said the witness. Wow, – I said to myself, I am also a defendant for the villager. He went on to say, as I said, expressions such as: “they treated us like animals, gave us corn bread, while they in the city ate wheat bread, which we produced.” In fact, all this was true, it was a reality, but, if I had told him, he would not have done it, because he had not left my mind yet.
“When did this happen?” The judge continued to ask.
“Now in the winter,” replied the coward.
-Do you have any questions for the witness?
-No, – I said, – but I ask the trial panel to present me a statement from the Tirana investigation, stating that when I was released from prison, from October 15, 1980, until March 1981 and I met this man and said these words.
“Get out,” said the judge.
My people who were present, my very dear sister of sacrifice, along with her two children, as stars, Angelina, who was 14 years old and Fatjoni, 8 years old, were worried and especially Anit, regretted that they were punishing me again. She kept crying over and over. Ani was a very smart girl, she only knew how to get a grade of 10, she even won the Mathematics competition in the district of Tirana, but she was very sensitive, and she loved me very much. While Fatjoni, with those bright black eyes, very beautiful, was a very smart and loving child, but was very playful, he did not enjoy books and school at all.
The judge who expelled the third witness, I thought in vain that he would give me some right, and justice to be, 10 years in prison, as “enemy of the people and the people’s power.” I was reminded that while I was in exile in Baldushk, I had taken a dog, named Lord, who was very smart and had an extraordinary intuition.
Whenever a neighbor came, but rarely, to visit my house, or his wife, or the children, the Lord wanted to break the chain and eat them, it was so easy for them. And when the Light came, he looked at it from a mile away and it was easy to inform me that we were not up, and he saw all the movements down the hill, asking me to untie it and go forward. I did so, He would run away, and throw himself at her, caressing her so that she would not let him walk. For us, it was a holiday, because we filled our stomachs, since we had two days without food, as I have shown before, the Light always brought us food.
In conclusion, with decision no. 92, dated March 9, 1981, the District Court of Tirana, found me guilty, based on Article 55/1 of the Criminal Code for agitation and propaganda against the popular power and sentenced me to 10 years in prison and 5 years in exile, after the measure of punishment.
In Department no. 309, Ballsh, 1981-1982
I was taken to the 313rd Old Prison, to the guest room. From there, back to Ballsh, where I noticed that four new silos had been built there, with 100 convicts each. It was not long before I realized that the last directive had been: “whoever corresponds with people abroad is an agent.” As a result, a campaign was launched and, within a year, they had arrested and convicted 400 innocent people, plus the consequences of their families. So they set up a camp for the unemployed and the sick. Department no. 309 was dissolved on 8.3.1983. The prisoners were taken to Ward 302, Zejmen of Lezha (sick, elderly and unemployed) and Ward 303 in Spaç.
In Department no. 305, Përparim Saranda, 1981-1982
After a while I was sent to Ward 305, Përparim of Saranda, and a village formerly called Shën Vasi. The police were not provocative, nor offensive, but here, what happened had not happened in any other camp. The officers were terrible, that usually the officers were educated people and behaved with some politeness, not like the policemen who were ignorant.
I am presenting their behavior with an event that does not leave my mind. One day, four elders, 75-80 years old, were sitting on the small grassy field in the camp yard, playing dominoes. Unfortunately for them, the Camp Operative passed by. They did not see it. The rule was that if any commanding officer, including the Operative, entered, the prisoner, wherever he was, had to stand up.
These four unfortunates, due to their age, had not had the mind but were continuing their game. The operative, like a real savage, when he saw them like that, got angry and shouted loudly: “Why don’t you stand up, you filthy people?!”
He kicked the turrets hard, without asking and noticing where he was shooting them. He bled them and maimed them to death. I felt sorry for one of them, who was called Nikolle, because he had a paralyzed leg and could barely move it. He drowned it completely in the wood.
In the Holiday Home in Durrës, year 1983
Another part of the convicts, the youngest ones, where I was also part, took us to Durrës, for the construction of the Convalescence of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. There was a very heartless and criminal policeman in this camp. They should not find a reason to enter the dungeon immediately. For example, why move from line to line, or when we take the dish, or when the appeal is made, to be put in a dungeon, tied up and beaten inhumanely. I’m not going to dwell, but who has been there knows well what we have removed.
In Tirana, release from prison
In 1989, I was sent to Tirana, where several buildings were built at the “Dinamo” Stadium. On May 15 of that year, I served my sentence and was released.
So I went to jail on December 10, 1960, and I was finally released from prison on May 15, 1989, with a very long sentence. Memorie.al
The next issue follows