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
Continued from the previous issue
In the “Kaushin” of Tirana with the convicts of Spaç!
They put me in the prison car and after 10 minutes I was in the corridor of the Tirana prison. The policeman this time opened the door of case No.1. I was amazed at how it was possible for me to mingle with the ordinary this time. I told the police that I am a political convict, room No. 7 is for these convicts?
“Come here, there are all the enemies of the people,” he replied. ‘Kaushi’ was full of prisoners, over 80 convicts, most of whom I knew. The room was 10 by 4 meters, with a 3-bed bed. I greeted them all and understood why these prisoners from Spaç were here.
They were all spies who would testify against comrades who had been arrested a few months earlier. We all knew these dirty faces, and many others. I sat down on the ground floor of the dhoga which was about 30 cm. on cement and were empty 2-3 mattresses. They were stinky, because of the trash that was in the corner and the stench of garbage.
Next to me, from an empty mattress, lay a prisoner lying covered upside down with a blanket whose paint was indistinguishable from the mud that had been made as glaze. I thought he would be so sick that he could not move, and he seemed to be out of breath! Next to him sat a prisoner, who talked to himself and accompanied him with gestures of mimicry and hands.
I said to myself “he will be a black psychopath”?! Next to him another prisoner read the letter the family had sent him and occasionally wiped away the tears. I thought, who cares about the problems in the family?! In ‘Kaush’, noise, noise, cough and fog, from the tobacco smoke that over 70% drank.
At 11:00 a.m. lunch came and two ordinary prisoners in jackets brought a cauldron in which a few pieces of leeks were floating inside, and occasionally a grain of rice appeared in that turbid water which they called soup. The ordinary prisoner threw our soup into the aluminum caskets. The prisoners did not notice the quality of this shoulder, but the quantity! Everyone felt an emptiness in their stomachs. This soup so dirty, looked so delicious?!
I had received my ration in the hospital jail for 24 hours. 300gram bread, with a little marmalade, which I ate once and now have to wait the next day. We all ate that soup, but the prisoner who was standing head over heels covered next to me, did not move, even though there was a lot of noise inside the bucket?!
“Who is this miserable man?” Added to my curiosity about this prisoner who was the most mysterious inside! Around 14.00 the police ordered us to go out on air or (agree) as the prisoners were told. We went outside to the prison yard where it had started to get hot, even though it was April.
The trees filled all over the purchase, the sky was blue and the sun shone with all its fire. To us this light was blinding, as we were accustomed to the darkness of prison. We sat in the shade, by the side wall of the courtyard and looked at the characteristic landscape of Dajti mountain, at its highest point where an iron television antenna stood out. Sadik Bala, the convict from Tropoja who refused food!
I did not realize how quickly that hour passed and the police ordered us to go inside. From light back to darkness, displeasing to the eyes! The friend I had on my arm, moved! He stretched out and revealed the face I had not seen until this moment. A face, woe to me, I had never seen in my life! Two cheeks rubbed down to the mouth cavity, two eyes inserted deep into their cavity, spoke of a great suffering! With a hundred struggles, he finally got up, glanced around, and as he got closer, addressed me.
– “What time is it man”?
“Approximately 3.00, uncle,” I replied. This prisoner was broken in age as I saw him and was in his 70s.
“How do you feel, are you holding on a bit?” I asked, to make way for the conversation.
“Ah, do not ask me at all how I am, there is no worse place to go, my friend,” he replied.
– “But why did not you get up to eat lunch”, I asked!
“No, I do not need food anymore, I do not want to live as I am, but God does not want to take me,” said the old man and a sigh came from the depths of his skeletal chest.
He gritted his teeth and I approached this man who needed help.
– “You came today”, he asked me?
“Yes,” I replied.
“What do they call a friend?” He asked again.
– “Kasëm Hoxha”, I told him the name and surname.
– “Do you really think Hoxha”, asked the surprised ghost man?!
– “Hoxha”, I replied, I have no reason to lie to you!
“What province are you from?” He kept asking me.
“From Saranda,” I replied.
“Excuse me, friend, I thought you were close to Enver Hoxha,” said the old man jokingly, to remove the boredom that seemed in every wrinkle. He put his lip to the gas, and with his hand the skeleton beat my shoulders.
“What are you called?” I asked.
– “Sadik Bala ‘, he returned it to me, and without leaving me time to ask him again he continued:’ I am from Tropoja and I was sentenced to 25 years in prison, without doing anything. They accused me of sheltering saboteurs. I Bac, I was a member of the Party, and the Chairman of the Village Council, I did as the Party and the Security told me. “I’m paralyzed, I’m paralyzed. I’m asking God to take me an hour and faster, but he does not hear me. He keeps me here to suffer and take you away.”
Bac Sadiku, after saying all this almost breathlessly, tried to open his mouth, and after wetting his dry throat, he tried to play with lifeless feet, covered with the never-washed blanket. He pulled them with difficulty with the strength of the wings that had little life. He rested his back against the wall and his gray head, put his hand so as not to be in contact with the concrete wall. He glanced beyond ‘Kaushi’. A look that required something. ‘Kaushi’ was buzzing with noise and the prisoners were talking loudly to each other. They coughed so hard that their intestines could come out of their bellies! Someone was screaming, someone was groaning in pain, while those who smoked drank so much that the smoke hung like a mist from the ceiling! The cigarette butts thrown on the floor constantly burned nicotine. I had three or four candies left in my pocket from the meeting I had with my sister Bardhë, two weeks ago in the hospital prison. I kept one for myself, while the other three, I gave to Bac Sadiku to sweeten his poisoned mouth.
– “To grow up with honor, my friend, but why do you keep it, eat it yourself. Say as if I ate it, do not take it for granted, do not think that I do not accept it. I call this as if you have given me your life. But un bre Bacë I want to die. My life is so bored that my soul has no hope. Do not fall into my pessimism, I am old and I have a serious illness. And you are a young boy, and maybe you are lucky afterwards “, concluded Bac Sadiku.
“Take Bac Sadiku, because these two candies do not save you or me,” I prayed again. He looked at me with regret and his eyes, deep in the cavity, exploded like a candle that had run out of oil. Baca took the candies, opened one and, with a trembling hand, put it in his mouth. I noticed that in the mouth there was no tooth capable of chewing that hard thing. He began to pass it from one side of the tongue to the other, to chew it. –
“How many times have you been sentenced, friend?” He asked me.
“10 years of Bac Sadiku,” I replied.
“Don’t worry, Kasem, let them be gone,” Sadiku comforted me.
“What prison are you in?” Baca asked me again?
– “In Spaç, in Prison No. 303”
– “Aaa …, for the one in Spaç – a …”, Baca asked in surprise.
– “Yes, in Spaç”.
– “Do you know Xhemal Neza and the Allçi brothers”?
“I know Baca, but they removed Adem and Elez from there and took them to Burrel prison,” I told him.
– “Yes, Hasan Malen, do you know him”?
“I know him, he did it 10 years ago and a few months ago he was released,” I told him.
“Were you there when the uprising took place?” Baca asked me.
“No bro Bac, I left after a few months, and we still suffer torture and harsh regime. Even though 6 years have passed, we still have the gums blackened by the police cart.”
“Oh, I’m so happy to tell you, I’m lucky they did it just like men,” said Baca.
“They did it like the men bre Bac, but many good friends shot them and many other friends are dying in Burrel cells. You do not know, but in February of this year, they arrested 100 friends of Spaç, who will they are sentenced again, and they risk being shot again, but they are innocent people, allegedly accused of terrorism! As their leaders, they accuse Xhelal Koprencka, Irfan Vrioni, Vangjel Lezhon and Fadil Kokomani, etc. ”
“Really,” Baca asked in surprise.
– “Yes Bac, do you see all these prisoners here of Spaç, with M.D., headed by G.X.”?
– “Yes, I see them, but I do not know why they are here”!
“They brought them as witnesses, because upstairs on the second floor, their trial is taking place,” I told him in a low voice.
“How filthy, false witnesses come out to their friends,” said Bac Sadiku.
– “No, Baca, it is not their fault, their fault is that they are people without character and cowards. It is the fault of the Enver regime and those who serve it. They have been drowning Albania in blood for 40 years, killing they wait to keep them submissive. ”
“I know, we know Kasem,” he said, looking around so that no one would hear us talking. Bac Sadiku, he did not have a place, he seemed to be missing something.
– “Do not you need help Bac Sadik, will not bring the container to urinate”?
“No bro, I’ll try to move a little,” he replied.
I lay down with my blanket and was watching Baca move, crawling on the bed, to let go of her numb legs on the concrete floor.
The first floor of the beds was about 30 cm. above the floor, 1.20 cm., the second floor of the beds, and about 2 m. third floor of the beds. With a thousand attempts, Baca dropped his numb feet onto the cement. How glad he was when we saw that he was still strong and could alone. With both hands, he held on to the vertical pole and made many attempts to stand up. With the seal of his arms, he stood up and trembled all over, as he could not control his paralyzed legs!
He stood with his back to the door and focused his gaze on the concrete floor. Surely something was looking for, on the concrete floor there was nothing but cigarette butts.
I thought that Baca had lost his mind about smoking. He found it difficult to tell me to beg for a cigarette from unknown prisoners. Baca, as he stood on his feet, tried to detach himself from the pole on which he was leaning, proving that he was not standing on his feet …?! After a little effort, he achieved his goal and kept his balance well, even though he was shaking. He took two steps, scared like a baby just starting to take the first steps! Baca, caught behind the wall tightly, turned his face away from the beds where the prisoners were lying.
– “You look better today, Baca stood up …”, mocked M … M …, a filthy spy who had come from Spaç, to testify to his friends.
“No, I got up out of grief,” Baca replied, leaning on his back against the wall.
– “No … you are better today”, intervened M.D., that even this dirty man had come for such work. “You look more open”, he continued to mock!
– “No bro M., there is no cure for me anymore! But thank you for the kind words and the courage you give me “, returned Baca, who had understood the” sarcasm “of M.D.
A cigarette that could not be found for Sadik Bala!
– “Do you have a cigarette, man, how I feel a void in my soul and I have a bad mind about it. I have no appetite, neither to eat nor to drink, only for that poison “, begged Baca M.D. who was drinking a twisted cigar.
Baca was convinced that he had tobacco. M.D., pretended to search through his pockets and pulled out an empty plasma bag, where at the end there were some tobacco crumbs left!
“By Mr. Baca, this was the last cigarette,” swore M.D., pointing to the empty bag. Baca lost hope after seeing that it was useless to beg from anyone else. He noticed that near his feet, a cigarette butt was still burning and with a thousand attempts, he sat down and took the cigarette butt and after extinguishing it, put it in his fist. He took two steps further with great difficulty, and approaching another tail, he took it and made it into two. Took two more steps, leaning against the wall, to get a third tail! But he could not reach the goal, as he lost his balance and fell, hitting his head on the crib.
I got up immediately and took Baca in my arms. He had turned into a handful of bones and I laid him on his blanket. Those who saw Baca fall, laughed!
“Ehh bre Kasëm, and although I see that I am dying, I was greedy for a cigarette, after I smoked for 35 years, but in prison I remained bad, because the boys do not send me any help! “I am afraid that they will put them in prison and for this reason they have all abandoned me”, Baca complained to me, wiping the blood that flowed on his forehead with his hand.
Without wasting time, I tore a piece from my shirt and tied the open wound, he thanked me as always, giving me a thousand blessings.
“To increase your honor, brother Kasëm”, Baca continued.
– “With honor be more Baca”, I turned to him and got up and collected five or six cigarette butts and shivered with newspaper papers a big cigar for Baca, I put it in his mouth lighting it with another cigarette butt helpless.
Baca, out of joy, did not know how to express gratitude for what I did to her! He smoked and smoked and occasionally coughed because the newspaper paper with the nicotine concentrated on the cigarette butts, was large./Memorie.al