The fourth part
Memorie.al publishes some parts of the voluminous autobiographical book in manuscript “Beautiful land, ugly people” (memories from hell) by the author, Kasem Hoxha, originally from the village of Markat in Saranda and living in the USA since 1985, when he fled Albania after suffering ten years in the prisons of Enver Hoxha’s communist regime. The whole sad and painful story of Kaso Hoxha, from the life and hard work in his village in the southernmost part of the country, the dissatisfaction with the regime and the first poems of a political nature, how they fell into the hands of the State Security and who were his relatives who spied on him, the arrest in the office of the Chairman of the People’s Council of Markat village, by the State Security on June 21, 1973, the investigation in the Saranda Branch of Internal Affairs, the trial against him and the sentence with 10 years in prison for “agitation and propaganda”, staying in “Kaushin” of Tirana (Ward 313), and the prisoners he found there, being sent to Spaç and working in that camp with criminal and “soft” police officers, the accomplices of description of their “portraits” with positive and negative sides, release from prison and return to the countryside, escape to Greece and stay in the Lavros camp, gaining political asylum in the USA, correspondence with Amnesty International, e London branch, inf information with the data he sent to the prisoners of Spaç and the communist regime in Albania, to the creation of a new family and life and work in that distant place with the Cham community divided by the intrigues of the people of the State Security from Albania operating there.
Excerpts from the manuscript book, “Beautiful land, ugly people“, (memories from hell) of the author, Kasem Hoxha, sent by him exclusively for Memorie.al
Do not pay attention to the title I am presenting to you, I mean, if you are not patient to read this collection of memoirs, if you want to forgive the author, that his style is pale, uninspired before this drama of great, of my people, of my martyred nation.
My characters are not created by my imagination, but are real people, they are your brothers, your fathers, your relatives. The events are not fictional, but real and lived. You will convince yourself, only after reading this summary with memories. You will find something from your life, something real from the lives of your fathers, your mothers, your brothers, how they suffered and how they died.
I wrote this collection of memories about the legacy left to me by my friends, for the world to learn the truth, how innocent people were tortured, how they suffered, how they died, in the camps and prisons of the executioner, Enver Hoxha!
I go with the hope that any reader, Albanian or foreign, is not left with hatred, from criticism, beating opposing opinions, as it is the best way to find the truth. The title of the book, “Beautiful land, ugly people”, will anger the reader, but in the end, I will conclude that I have the right to call it “The 45-year era of the satanic communist regime of Enver Hoxha”: Ugly.
I, alas, for the misfortune I had, saw and lived the great drama that happened before my eyes. I am neither a poet nor a orator, I will need hard work to escape the literary mistakes in this historical book, which can inspire future poets and writers, on the tragedy of our time, of the darkest time of my nation !
Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish you all freedom and peace…!
Llavrio, Greece 1985
Followed by the last number
How I signed the indictment after seeing my block on the prosecutor’s desk!
– “Are you still alive”? Said the prosecutor
– “Your life is in your hands,” continued the big belly.
– “Sign this piece of paper, have faith in the Party, that the Party has a big heart and has mercy on people who repent, want to change their ways. We know who led you astray “- this big belly continued to convince me with his tricks, that I had committed a serious crime against the Party! I noticed that there was a notebook on the table, which looked so much like my notebook that I had lost a few months ago!
I remember very well the day I lost that notebook. It was the end of March 1973. That day I was sent with the construction brigade to make wood in the forest near Janjar (Kondat). Hadif Boçia Myrtaj, was a brigadier, we were about 10 men, who would make wood. It made me doubt, why were they sending me to this brigade?! My cousin, Safo’s aunt’s son, Hakiu, approached me in the center of the village and, overjoyed, said to me: “I heard that you will come with us to make wood in Kondat”?
“Yes,” – I replied, “I loved the people of my blood as they were.” Hakiu was a wavering man, with many pages, for this reason I did not have much conversation with this dallkauk! His conversations with me, which I remembered very well, were provocative, could he have been recruited by the Security organs?! I am convinced that he provided information to everyone in the village. All those people who did this filthy work, had great privilege.
Although Haki’s father, Fuati, was as declassed as the communist regime, as rich as he once was, his father was an unscrupulous man, an ordinary landlord, soulless. At the time when the Cham refugees were dying for a piece of bread in the center of Markat, this ignorant, soulless, found the opportunity to get rich, with the misfortune of the Cham refugees!
He turned the barn full of wheat into a barn of gold, for the price of a piece of land was a napoleon of gold, and this bloodthirsty man had no mercy on people dying of hunger. The center of the village was filled with graves of Cham refugees and Fuat Mersin’s wallet was filled with gold! Such was his son, Hakiu, who for his own interest, did everything possible, just to have privileges. The sister was made a brigadier, the other, Deshira, was sent to the School of Dentistry, his daughters were given scholarships for university, in a word, he is a loyal man who fanatically served that regime.
– So, he accompanied me to the forest (Kondat) and I, realizing that his conversations were all provocations, did not prolong them, but waited for him briefly, saying: “I do not know, I have not heard anything “! I did not forget when he asked me: – “Do Selfua and Rexhep Hoxha come as saboteurs and we meet them”?
I said to him, “If you had met them, I might have seen them too!” – He was silent, did not ask any more questions until the forest, but when we got there, he asked me if I wanted to work with him. “No,” I said. Hadif, who was nearby, asked me, “Why don’t you work with your cousin?” I jokingly replied, “He does not need money, he has gold.”
However, he caught a spark near me. I cut a large splinter, knocked it to the ground and did not rest a bit, until I tore it. A bag that I had with me, (with a piece of bread with a sourdough bottle), I ate quickly and left the bag along with the jacket a little further, about 10 meters away.
Meanwhile I saw Haki coming around, I saw him coming from the stream and I asked him, was there any source of water down there? He replied: “Yes, there is a spring of water, but take it a little lower!” I took it down, as I was thirsty and too sweaty, crossing the monopath leading to the spring. I was very tired, after making wood, it is hard work. I sat a little on a rock, after the work was finished to collect wood per cubic meter. The norm was 3 cubic meters and it took me another hour of work to reach the cubic meter. I measured them many times, but I could not count!
They should have been 3.20 tall by 1 meter high. I went to the jacket where I had the notebook, to do the calculation, I was scared when I saw that the jacket pocket was open and the notebook, someone had taken it! My jacket was a military jacket, the pocket of which was fastened with two stamps.
I was completely convinced I had the pad in my pocket when I got the jacket, I was completely convinced, sure it was the hand of the man who had taken it. And this man who was nearby was Haki Fuati, 1000% sure, that only this man was there and there was no one else to take my notebook out of my pocket.
While these were coming to me, I recognized my block that was sitting on the table in front of Prosecutor Abaz B… After a silence, he asked me: – “This notebook, is it yours? “Will you take a look at it?” – He continued opening the last pages, where I had written in capital letters “NEW YEARS, BLACK DAYS”.
I was frozen, my mind went to that day, where Haki stole that notebook from my pocket, I had nothing to say, all my hopes were dashed. They now had material on a charge that I could be sentenced to death.
– “Is it your block”? shouted the prosecutor again.
– “Yes, it is my block”! – I returned it.
– “Who gave it to you”? – I asked instinctively!
“The party has a lot of eyes; we know how many spoons you have at home”! He turned to me angrily. “So now unravel and tell the investigators, who are the collaborators and who put you on this hostile path”?!
I had nothing to say, I took the pen in front of me, signed the proceedings – the minutes of my arrest. The prosecutor ordered the police to take me to the cell. Surprisingly they did not bind me, nor did they torture me that day, but when they closed the iron door, they left the light on. A dim light in that creek hidden behind a thick wire mesh. I sat in the corner of the cell, my gums were sticking out, the wounds I had on my ribs were hurting and I was still bleeding from the beatings of the beating of last night. After a while, the policeman opened the counter and I saw that he was holding a piece of paper.
He read! – Defendant Kasem Hoxha: – you have the right to go to the toilet 2 times, at 7 o’clock in the morning and at 7 o’clock in the evening, only 10 minutes, you have the right to go out in “Pajtos”, which was a place of surrounded by barbed wire and high walls, more than 3 meters, outside the prison building. Your family can bring you up to 5 kg of food per week, but you will not meet. The meeting with family members will be only after the end of the trial. You are not allowed to talk to any prisoners, we will keep you in this cell until we get another order, this is in the hands of your prosecutor and investigator. “Do you have a clear regulation?” – said the police.
I said nothing, just glared at him. He closed the counter and left. I sat back in the corner of the cell. Meanwhile the mind and soul flew far away to the poor hut. I was inside, I saw them, I heard my mother crying, the sighs of those innocent babies, this true dream broke my heart! This pain was greater than the pain of the wounds!
Suddenly the horrible dream I saw last night came to my mind. It was a frightening dream, the few hours I closed my eyes I dreamed: a man dressed in white rags and with long hats like the Pope, embroidered with gold, was faneps for me a second time. He was holding a beautifully carved cane in his hand and said to me, “Do not be afraid, my son! You are very young, innocent, I spoke to you one more time, when you started digging a hole in the garden of your house. I told you to close it and make a frame over that graveyard. You did not listen to me, I am very sorry for that, you inadvertently became a sinner, you ruined that cemetery and the tranquility of those bones that lie there for thousands of years… “, I was faneps as if he told me a ghost-man!
When I saw this dream, I woke up scared. It was true, that a year ago, I dug a big pit to collect rainwater, as Markati is high on the built-up mountain and during the summer months, there is a lack of water. This prompted me to build this puddle, where my father and mother rejoiced and they helped me to dig that hole. When we reached the depth of three meters, we encountered large stone slabs and when we discovered them, we found human skeletons.
Dad immediately got so scared that they told me we had to fill that hole. “It is a pity from God to destroy graves,” said the mother and father, almost with one mouth, as they believed in God very much. I did not hear them, but kept digging a meter deeper! When I finished digging, it was the same man who came to me in a dream, dressed as a priest, who begged me to fill that pit and put a wooden cross on these graves.
I did not understand and inadvertently became a sinner, I said it was just a dream, like all dreams that man sees! But some dreams, or rather, all dreams come true. This man said to me: – “You will suffer my son for a long time, nine and a half years, believe in God, he will give you spiritual strength to overcome this difficulty”! This dream made me think. I did not know that my father, Çizja, had built the house on the cemetery! I did not know that Markati was a very old village, with a long history!
Now a trial awaited me. I focused my whole being, if it was possible to remember, what I had written in that notebook. Probably the next day, the investigator, Halit K., Would come to draft the indictment. I wondered how he would present me with all the material, facts, and more fabrications, to get the capital sentence. The day dawned, I understood more from the noise of the city and according to the schedule, the police let me go to the WC.
Then they gave me that piece of bread dried in boiled water, which they called tea. I ate it, though I had no appetite. I have to put a stone in my heart to keep my soul alive. Around 9.00, the police opened the door and ordered me to follow him. He took me to the investigator’s room, Haliti was waiting inside, a large pile of papers on the table, among them was my notebook!
Halit was sitting heavily – heavily in his chair, he was concentrating on the typewriter where he was trying to write something. But it seemed that this big belly found it extremely difficult to find the letters to type with this typewriter, as it was understood that he had no experience at all. As I stood in front of the table, he removed his gloves and looked at me from head to toe, seeing that in just those three days, I had become skeletal.
– “I do not eat food at all”? he asked me.
– “I have no appetite”! – I returned it briefly.
-“Did you think? What are you going to tell us? These that you have written, in this block, are not of your mind. Who put you in this circle, in this hostile path”? – continued Haliti.
– “Come on, talk”! – he said angrily.
– “There is even more severe torture”! he continued.
– “Kemal, who is he? “Do you know this man?” he asked me
– “It’s my Dajku”! – I returned the answer immediately.
– “Remember, did he tell you anything that he is dissatisfied with the Party, and other reasons to be expelled from the organization”? – Haliti continued with questions.
If I were to tell all the conversations, I would witness by implicating my dad with hostile activities against the regime. My uncle was a highly respected man in the village. He managed to become the secretary of the party organization in the village. I was proud of his success and wanted so much to stick to him. But unfortunately, the decline began with his career when the cousin his first, Zeqo Kola, escaped with his brother-in-law, Skënder Xhelo Shuaipi and Saba Hyso, after 1963.
Qemal Kola was expelled from the party, he was now just a “kazmaxhi”, like all the rest of us. My uncle had 6 children, all boys: Bedriu, Saditer, Ahmeti, Bushati, Shena and Tafili. They were also my childhood friends, I loved them so much, they were people of my blood. I could not talk about their feelings, I just realized that my dear grandmother, mother Shabua, loved me with all her heart. We slept in her womb all together, we listened with weaving and curiosity to all her tales.
The horrible story of all the suffering as refugees in Turkey, where my mother, Honja, and her three other daughters were born: Sheja, Sofua and Fehedo. Dajua influenced so much in the formation of my character. I grew up with the sweet caresses, so warm kisses of my grandmother and daddy. While now, these “greyhounds” wanted to destroy his family, they demanded information from me, to compile accusations of hostile activities against their power, or as they call it, “popular power”!
These “greyhounds” and that filthy regime, to arrest “in the name of the people” and sentence to death, yes “in the name of the people”. To divide the people, that clique of bandits in Tirana, used various forms, to defeat and break the will of honest people! That regime, turned brother against brother, intimidating and threatening him, corrupting people in every family! So, I did not know that even in my family, someone was recruited by the Security?! Horror! Was it my mother, or my wife Mejdua?! I was sure that someone else, along with Haki, was giving information to the Security staff!
– “No! – I returned it to Halit. This man never spoke to me and told me that he was dissatisfied with the regime. He was a devout communist! “He is innocent, his career and his biography were ruined by his first cousin, Zeqo Kola, who is also my uncle.” – I continued.
-“Good! – said Haliti – ‘Yes Selfo Hoxha, is this your first cousin”?
“Yes,” I said without hesitation. Selfua escaped in late August 1969, along with Bilal Xhaferri and Bajram Shuaipi. It is true that I was with Selfo every day even on the night of Bogaz’s holiday when he escaped, until the last moments we were together, when he told us all, his family and relatives that a little further, near Kullerica, he was waiting for him a car”.
Here I thought, in order to blame all my people, to charge Selfon, Selfon who was the only man who made me an enemy of the communist regime of Enver Hoxha. And indeed, Selfua influenced me so much that I formed my political convictions, living, seeing closely the reality of life in the village, and in all of Albania, where every ordinary citizen, every peasant, felt the savage dictatorship of this regime.
Selfua and his family suffered in prisons and internments. Selfua showed me the real face of Enver Hoxha’s Socialism, who imprisoned and shot innocent people every day, such was the “group of Chams”, or better to say “the group of Teme Sejko and Tahir Demi and Taho Sejko”.
Dozens of innocent people were shot and sentenced to severe prison terms in the early ‘60s. These facts made me hate these “butchers of Tirana” even more. Unfortunately, I did not know why I had written it in my notebook, glorifying this group?!
I did not remember exactly, but it was roughly written like this: “Glory to the Heroic Group of Teme Sejko and Tahir Demi” “Down with the Labor Party, led by Enver Hoxha”. Knowing that Selfua was in America, I had very good reason to say with all my hatred of the communist regime that it was Selfua who influenced me.
“Yes,” I said again, “he is my first cousin, he has spoken to me and influenced my life so much.” He was my closest man, whom I respected not only as a cousin, but also as a father”!
– “He told you to write these words”! Haliti asked
– “What words is he talking about”? – I asked her
He opened the block, went to the page where I had written some verses, entitled “I hate you”!
“No,” I replied
– “Who then”? shouted Halit K in angrily!
– “From my mind”! – I returned it without hesitation.
– “Was its Bilal Xhaferi”? Haliti asked!
– “No ‘, I met him for the first time at a dinner that Selfua set for his engagement, he stayed a few days in the village and he escaped with Selfo”, I continued!
– “Selfua, discussed his escape with you or any other family member”? Haliti asked again!
“No, I never heard him talk about escape.”
As far as I understand, Halit K…, wanted to implicate me with another article of the Criminal Code and the Constitution, such as conversations in preparation for escape, which was sentenced to not less than 10 years in prison.
– “What about his brothers, I…, S…, D…, what did they think about the escape of Selfos and Bilal”? – Haliti continued to ask.
I had realized that Selfos brothers, I… and S. Were recruited by the Security organs. They always went to Saranda, to the Branch of Internal Affairs. They were afraid of being imprisoned and to save their skin, they spied on everything and everything. They always complained that Selfua ruined their family life!
– “They did not tell me anything”! – I returned it.
– “Yes Mehmet Sulo, Selfo’s brother-in-law, have you heard any comments about Selfo or Bilal Xhaferi”?
– “I have never seen this man”! – I returned it immediately.
– “You insist that none of those I mentioned, did not bid with you, except with Selfo, this man is the reason that made you an enemy and this is justifiable because we know, Selfua is a sworn enemy of the People’s Power. “He is sentenced to death in absentia by the popular court, but we want to know how many other enemies like Selfua and yourself are there in Markat”, Haliti continued./Memorie.al