By Ylli Tabaku
The fifth part
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
AGAIN PRISONED IN THE YEARS 1980-1990
Arrest on 4.10.1980
That October I resumed construction work. Several corn warehouses were being set up in Balhaxhias, about 5-6 miles from my house. At lunch, I found a corner, opened the tray and from there pulled out the insulin needle and after doing the injection, started eating bread. Meanwhile, an investigator named Lekë Mëlyshi appeared in front of me, together with the party secretary, Vjollca, they turned to me and asked:
– Are you Ylli Tabaku?
“Yes,” I said.
“Stand up, in the name of the people you are arrested for agitation and propaganda,” they told me.
– Everyone around them turned yellow, while I do not know how it happened at that moment, but I was not impressed. He knew what to expect and, in fact, was upset that I did not react at all. Then he said to the villagers: “Do not look at this, which does not impress him, for he is accustomed to imprisonment!”
They put the irons on me, but at that time, I wanted to get the small bag of meringue, because I had insulin inside.
“Leave him,” said the investigator.
“I have the medicine and the needles,” I said.
“You have it all there,” he spoke again.
They put me in the middle, along with a policeman, and put me in a car. I was wearing a short-sleeved shirt and a pair of sandals without socks, because the cold had not started yet.
I was sent to the dungeons of the ‘New Prison’, as it was called at the time. They let me in and immediately a couple of policemen, after stripping me naked, checked me thoroughly, opened a dungeon door that they use as a blanket warehouse, told me to get two blankets.
I started to choose the thickest ones.
-Are you a craft, have you been here another time? Said one of the policemen.
-Yes, – I said.
-Come quickly, because we do not have time.
They opened the door of the dungeon no.12. I was told to go inside. I laid out the blankets and lay down. After a few seconds, I came to my senses and started to look reality in the eye, that by that time, I had been completely numb and did not understand what was happening to me! I made a small account; I was almost 40 years old. I would be sentenced to 10 years for “agitation and propaganda”. I would get out of jail 50 years old.
When would I start a family? Even if I were released, they would still follow me step by step, and try to punish me. That my Easter destination was just prison. I was reminded of an Arabic phrase that my mom often used, “saber salaamed”, and which means “is patient”.
The door opened and a cop handed me the aluminum bowl of soup.
-Take it, – he told me, – the dinner soup came.
“What about the needle,” I said.
-What needle? He asked.
“I am diabetic and I have to take insulin,” I told him.
-Where do I know anything from these jobs, – if you want to eat, if you want to stay.
-Please call the Nursing, – I said.
“Where there is a man today, it is Saturday,” said the policeman.
What to do, I ate a couple of tablespoons, because my mouth was dry, and I lay down to sleep. I slept for half an hour and woke up thirsty. The morning came, the door opened:
“Food,” said the policeman. I made the same request, explaining that I was diabetic and told him to call anyone who has it in hand to solve my problem.
“There is no one today, it is Sunday,” he said. I spent all that day and night, with terrible thirst and much toil. The next day, as soon as it was dawn, I started vomiting, my eyes closed, my daughter fell into a deep sleep, and I woke up. At one point, looking at myself in bed, surrounded by doctors and nurses, I said I was not dreaming, but it was not true. I had worsened and had fallen into a coma.
After intensive treatment, I did well and the investigation continued in hospital conditions. The investigator who had arrested me, Lekë Mëlyshi, came. He probably, from his bitter experience with the communist regime, because his father, Pal Mëlyshi, had fled and joined the anti-communist resistance groups, to present him as an “enemy of power”, (that he in fact , was a State Security agent), had deported his family, wife and two children, Leka 8 years old and his sister, 5-6 years old.
He knew what he had removed from the Tepelena Camp in the early 1950s; how much he had suffered from hunger, eating the roots of trees. So, he treated me with respect to all legal norms, without insulting me or hitting me, only occasionally telling me that I was an “enemy”. Poor thing, he did not know and did not understand that this word made me proud.
After three months, I was called to the Investigator, where the director of the Directorate, Elham Gjika, had come. He started asking me:
-How are you?
“Yes, in fact, my illness sometimes improves and sometimes worsens,” I replied.
-I do not ask about your health, because I find out from the doctors, but about the investigation, you have been here for three months and you have not said a word. He said angrily.
-You have arrested me based on some facts, for crimes I have committed, take them to court and let the court sentence me.
-No more, to be punished with our words, eh ..?! No more no, you will be punished by your words and the words of the witnesses we have. You are no longer young, to break up camps and fight with the police, with those capitulations of yours, because you are old enough to resist our investigation, say five words you know, get that 10 year sentence and, go to camp suffer punishment, leave us alone. Are you going to say anything to the investigator?
-No, – I said.
“Well,” he said, “we have other conditions to continue the investigation.”
The next day, they brought me my personal clothes. What clothes! A short-sleeved shirt, a pair of skinny dock pants, I didn’t even have socks! They put me in a car and sent me back to the New Prison. Those dungeons of the New Prison, in the winter, were so cold that no one could believe they had not tried them themselves.
I entered the corridor of the dungeons, and as an instinct that the prisoner has, who will know about everything, about where he is being led, I glanced all over the corridor, the doors of the dungeons, and found that; in every corridor of the dungeons, there was a table, where the policemen shared the bread and kept any personal belongings, which the prisoners were not allowed to keep in the dungeons; I noticed that there were also two plastic bags, one in a corner, which I later learned belonged to dungeon no. 51, and the other in the other corner, which belonged to dungeon no. 53.
I by nature am not vindictive, that after all people are not all the same, even though the pressure has been too great. Investigators said, “You will do this, otherwise we will separate from the woman, or we will deport the family – things they have done in hundreds of cases. There were also those who had no personality, and weak character. From these thoughts, he mentioned to me a noise that was heard, recently: the policeman opened the dungeon no. 26, as far as I remember and told me to enter.
Inside there is another person, whom after reading from the top of the head to the bottom of the legs, I said to myself, what will this be, a thug, or a dungeon spy?! He started helping me, laying the translucent blankets, they were so worn out. With the movements he was making while laying the blankets, the jacket opened and a sewing needle, a catching needle, shone inside.
“Yes, what do you have?” I asked.
-You are agile, – I said, – how can you pass it?
“I secretly threw it at the guards,” he replied.
Eh dog son dog, I said to myself, took the spy, and adding another “forgive me for the expression”. You cannot pass a single hair there, that they undress naked and take a couple of steps away from your clothes, and after checking them well, let you dress again…! Aha I said to myself, you are a spy. After we adjusted the blankets, we sat facing each other and this “gentleman 420” opened the conversation first.
-Why were you arrested?
“For the sake of the mind,” I replied.
-Why, what did you do, -he insisted.
-I stole a “Kalashnikov” from the depots of the Voluntary Forces of the Cooperative and sold it to a villager for 15 thousand ALL. He was caught and he showed he had bought it from me, so I ended up here with you.
“It surprises me,” he said.
Meanwhile, I said to myself, watch when he gets up, knock on the door and look for the investigator or the police. The policeman would ask him to sit down, because the investigator would come. It really happened, it did not go far and the keys to the door were heard. The door opened and the policeman appeared, a tall man who called.
-Get up, come with me.
“I,” I said to make fun of him.
“Not you, the other one,” said the policeman.
-Now he will bring it and take me, – I thought. It really happened, as I thought, it was not long before he brought it and took me.
“Where are you taking me?” I asked.
– To the investigator, – where will I take you, – he answered me.
-No, – I said, we will not take a walk from ‘Skënderbeu’.
“When you look at ‘Skanderbeg’ after 10 years,” replied the policeman, “because he knew because he was an experienced policeman.”
I go into the investigative office and see that some four investigators have gathered. As soon as I sat down, I was immediately asked the following questions:
-Apart from agitation, what else do you have to say?
-Where do I know, you know everything, or better, you understand everything, – I answer the investigator who asked me the question.
“I mean, what did you steal something for?” He continued.
-Listen here, – he said, – the person we have put in your dungeon, is to come to your aid, because this is how we have the instruction from the hospital doctors, that with the disease you have, it is not allowed to leave him alone in the dungeon . “We are not an imperialist government to put provocateurs in cells,” he added.
“If your words were true, it would not be bad,” I said.
-Do I tell you, who are the prisoners from Ballsh Camp, who serve as dungeon spies here? In dungeons no. 52. to dungeon no. 53, or 54, you have the pistachio, – I told them. They stunned the four of them and looked each other in the eye.
-How is it possible, he has not filled the clock that has come here, said one of the other investigators? Who is a guard officer? “Who are the internal guards?” He continued, and some 5 or 6 names of policemen were mentioned there, and then he addressed me.
-Help us in this case, because we will help a lot, – he said, and then made it famous “For the ideal of the Party, where did you find out”?! Memorie.al
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