Memorie.al publishes an article published in the newspaper “Bashkimi” in Tirana on December 29, 1945, with the signature RES, which deals with a short history of the Cham population that has lived for centuries in their lands in Chameria, and which since 1913, when the application of de-nationalization policies began, introducing divisions among the population and its parish, was also attacked by several detachments of Greek andarts, such as that with Commander Jani Deli Gjiritis, who treacherously killed 72 people, heads from Paramithia and the surrounding villages, on the outskirts of Thessaloniki, where the Greek military authorities neither intervened nor took any interest, although relatives of those killed were asked for help. A good example is that of 1921, when Epirus officers, in order not to go to the front of Asia Minor, brought out the story of a conspiracy allegedly organized in Chameria, from Chameria against Greece. This toy caused the imprisonment of more than 500 people and the unprecedented torture of the Cham population, as well as the fact that women were given cats in tumans (çitjane), in order to allegedly expose the truth. In 1922-’24, after the defeat of the Greeks, they decided to relocate the Chams to Turkey in exchange for the Greeks of Asia Minor. But this failed due to the opposition of the people, who in this way denied to the foreigners who came as arbitrators of this issue, the Greek claims, as of Turkish nationalism. After the exchange chapter was closed, the total pressure from the Greek state apparatus began.
On the eve of the end of World War II, when German forces had not yet begun their withdrawal from Greece, in late June 1944, the chauvinist gangs of the infamous General Napoleon Zerva launched a large-scale ethnic cleansing. the Albanian Muslim population of Chameria, accusing them of collaborating with the German occupiers. This ethnic cleansing, which was accompanied by an unprecedented genocide of that defenseless Albanian population, who for centuries lived in their own lands in that part of Epirus, was supported and aided by the Greek government of Prime Minister Caldari’s, which justified it under the “mask” of the Podzdam agreement held in Poland, where Stalin, Roosevelt, and Truman had signed a pact to deport (after the end of the war) minorities who had worked closely with the German occupiers. As a result of the repression and savage genocide perpetrated by the Serb gangs against the Cham population, where their animalistic actions did not spare even women, the elderly and children, they forced them to take the streets of the world, crossing the political borders of the Hellenic state. at that time. Thus, most of the Cham population who were forcibly displaced from their ethnic lands (figures speak of 45,000 people who came to Albania), in early 1945, came to their home country, where the Albanian government time tried to settle them, setting up several camps in different cities of the country. Regarding the reception and systematization that was done to the Cham population in Albania at that time, as well as the massacres that they had experienced by the Greeks since the first years of the last century, speaks a report published in the newspaper “Bashkimi” of December 29. of 1945 (signed under the pseudonym RES), which we are republishing in full in this paper without making any changes.
Report of the newspaper “Bashkimi”: Where lies Chameria and its natural resources
Chameria geographically extends from the Albanian border of the South, including the Albanian villages to the Shales River; takes from the South the whole coast to Parga; from the east the plain of Frari and the highlands of Paramithia. It is a coastal country with a good and well-prepared climate. The main product is olive which gives the best oil. Oranges, citrus, figs, grapes, etc. are also produced. Its fields are quite fertile, and the meadows are also quite rich in pastures. The population, made up almost entirely of peasants, is engaged in oil production and livestock and agriculture. It is a smart, courageous, and very hospitable people. It is in ignorance and fanaticism, why it has been left in this state by the oppressive Greek regimes. Illiteracy is at its peak. From the Turkish rule, with the fall of Ioannina, on February 21, 1912, Chameria also fell under Greek occupation. The population of Chameria at that time consisted of about 40,000 Albanian Muslims and 30,000 Christians, who spoke and speak Albanian and with Albanian customs scattered in Frar, Paramithi, and the coast, from Parga to the Albanian border.
Oppressive policy towards Chameria
From the very beginning, the Greek ruling clique applied to the Cham minority policy of oppression for nationalization or displacement. Through religion and the quarrels of the pariah, she reinforced these maneuvers to make them common and natural in the country. As early as 1913, with the occupation, the squadron and later the army with the state administration tortured the Albanian population. Deli Janaqi Gjiritis, a gang commander, treacherously killed 72 people at this time, heads from Paramithia, and the surrounding villages, near the Selani stream. Greek military authorities neither intervened nor took any interest, although the proximity of those killed was called for. On the contrary, even when they were taken inside by Paramithia a few days later, by the same Deli Janaqi, three of the priorities, Fuat Pronjo, Zubhi… (the names of the other two cannot be read. Our note), were killed by the Greek authorities. The first and second died and disappeared, the third escaped after a six-month ordeal, no one cared. Five days after the aforementioned event, the Greek army gathered 23 men selected from the leadership of the village of Grykëhor, Gumenica province, with the aim of eradicating them. But after the news spread in Istanbul that the Turks had arrested a number of Greeks in retaliation for the previous incident, the 23 were not killed but were tortured so badly that they spent months in hospitals in Corfu. Nearly a year after the Greek occupation, due to the collection of weapons, the Greek authorities began a major crackdown, without exception, on the age and position of the Albanians. This scene continued unabated until 1915, culminating in the period of autonomy declared by the Greeks for southern Albania. This work continued where it was most pronounced and where it was mostly closed in various forms and in other continuous years. From this oppression and insecurity of life, in these times many were forced to move to Albania and Turkey. This displacement increases or decreases relatively with the condition over 32 years.
The Greek occupation would inevitably be a black stage for all strata of the Cham minority; that always yesterday and today, the Greek ruling clique was nourished by an immense “Megaliidhe” and a furious chauvinism. Events have flowed one after another, but they have been a reflection of this filthy policy. The minority people have borne the brunt of this oppression, despite the resistance of the masses, but this could not be serious, because it was always prepared by a circle of beys and opportunists who led the masses where it interested them and as e they wanted. The quarrels between these leaders, or the offers of the Greeks to them, never left the measure to find the right path and join in the serious efforts and especially in the time of the elections where there were cases to unmask and strike the shameful policy of Greek clicks. in power. In parallel with the policy towards Albania and the international situation, the acts of the Greeks became more pronounced or camouflaged. In 1922-1924, after the defeat of the Greeks, they decided to move the Chams to Turkey, in exchange for the Greeks of Asia Minor. But this failed thanks to the opposition of the people, who in this way refuted the Greek claims of Turkish nationalism in front of foreigners who came as arbitrators in this matter. After the exchange chapter was closed, the total pressure from the Greek state apparatus began.
Sanctions in the economic plan
They imposed economic sanctions: Chamer merchants could not become grosses; with a distorted agrarian reform and other speculations in the market, they snatched the country’s economy from the Chams by giving it to the Greek wholesalers; they received heavy taxes; it happened that a Cham could pay two or three times a tax paid. They were not interested in the traffic network; for 20-30 km of road to connect Filati with the Sajadha pier, it took 10-12 years to complete. Until recent years, Filati communicated with Ioannina with animals. The Greek state is less and less interested in agricultural development; in the sewerage of fields, seed aid, and others to increase the country’s productivity. In this way, the Chams were dependent on the Greeks. In the spring, when they were accepted, they did not enjoy the same trust as everyone else and were used more in the background, often denying them the right to speak the language.
The division of Chameria into two parts
In the election campaign, in order not to let Chamerians vote together, they divided Chameria into two parts: one was attached to Preveza and the other to Ioannina, so the Chams never took their man to the Greek parliament. This way of voting made them always dependent on the Greek elements that were presented, who made the politics of the moment enough to get the vote. Individual Chams have also been denied the right to school, much less to learn their mother tongue. It has been a while since 1936 that the speaking of Albanian in offices and in the Bazaar was stopped. The Greek ruling clique also pursued a divisive religious policy, perpetuating fanaticism and constantly raising provocations of this nature; to be always divided into quarrels and bloodshed. But often Chameria also becomes a toy of different interests of the Greek clique.
The staging of the “Cham Conspiracy” in 1921
A good example is that of 1921, when Epirus officers, in order not to go to the front of Asia Minor, brought out the story of a conspiracy allegedly organized in Chameria by Chameria against Greece. This toy caused the imprisonment of more than 500 people and the relentless torture of the Cham population, as well as the fact that women were given cats in tumans (çitjane), in order to bring to light the alleged truth. The purpose of this toy was to give the impression to the then Greek government that the situation in Epirus was turbulent and that officers should not be moved from there. From the trial that took place in Ioannina on this occasion, it turned out that everything was fabricated and that nothing was prepared in Chameria. The Greek newspaper of Ioannina, KIRIKIS in this regard, in No. 158 dt.12. VI.1921, in its main article “I SAPUNOFUSKA TIS SINOMOSIAS”, writes a telegram from Rome announcing: “Stress actions by the Greek government on the Muslims of the District of Ioannina”, gives us the right to understand the warning, since this style, a joint fantasy, caused a stir and in parallel with this a misunderstanding in the outside world… “, and continues below:” It would be futile to deny the bad behavior towards the truth that people just the upper social class, attracting even the lowest ones, threw the Great Friday into prisons, to resemble two things: To get out of these beneficiaries; and dragging on Government dignity in the outside world, of which we are in dire need today, are necessarily some circumstances on which the purpose of silence depends, but there are also some obligations that compel you to show the country some things ”, and continues to shoot the provocateurs of this fabrication on the backs of the Chams. Of course, these maneuvers of the Greeks had the support and were supported by a part of the leaders of the country, who have been accustomed to influence en masse according to their personal and close interests. During this time, under this pressure, the Cham population felt little of the political movements in Greece, as well as those of the revolutionaries. Only a worker or expatriate could feel and connect with these organizations. The arrival of Metaxaj in power, as everywhere, in Chameria also extinguished this initiative. The influences of the Albanian governments corresponded to the time and the relations of the Albanian state with the Greek one, and these were done through some leaders who in part made the two-sided toy. Some young people who came to Albania for studies related to revolutionary groups in Albania with short intervals who stayed in Chameria, cannot do an organized job and be related to the masses of the people. The Cham minority in general lived in this situation, and the Italian and German occupiers tried to take advantage of this situation, who, with the help of the Dine clique, tried to make them mercenaries in their war against the Greek and Albanian partisans.
Daut Hoxha’s tale
On top of this, Daut Hoxha’s tale was invented in Chameria, which was followed in Chameria with great liberation propaganda. The Greeks responded to this in 1940, with the reconquest of Chameria in the withdrawal of the Italian armies, with the internment of all the men they found from the age of 10 to 95, according to the decision taken a month ago in Gumenica, in a meeting. led by the Despot of Ioannina with 13 others. The detainees, after being handed over to various prisons from which the authorities themselves left various Greek civilians wanted, killed more than 350 people, burned them to death, or abused them in various ways until their deaths. Another 200 members of the authorities were killed. The others, around 450 men, were transported through torture and disappearances to concentration camps, where they resisted as long as the Greek resistance continued, leaving many of them dead from various tortures and sufferings. The part of the men who were under military service at that time was assembled by order of the Corps-Army of Ioannina and under the whip of the Greek officers and non-commissioned officers who commanded them, they were stoned to death, and every heavy service was rendered. Taking into account the close capitulation of the Greek army, the local authorities of Chameria, in fulfilling the decision taken at the high-mentioned meeting chaired by Spiridhoni, had prepared the lists and tried to provide the means of transport, all the Cham women and babies they had remaining in Chameria, so that in case Greece was violated by foreign powers, there would be no Albanian spirit in all of Chameria. These led to the lying of the masses at the beginning of the occupation and to call the Italians liberators from some of the superficial rights that were granted, but this remained as sympathy for them because the Italian toy was quickly understood and especially when the war against them was declared. The Soviet Union.
The Chams: We want to return to our lands in Greece
Although Albania in 1945 was just out of the war and full of economic problems, it tried to help its Cham compatriots by setting up various camps and centers for their settlement, in order to facilitate them in some way. the great pain they were experiencing away from their homes. This is part of the report of the newspaper “Bashkimi” of December 29, 1945, were under the title “Chams are suffering away from their homes”, it says: “Despite the great efforts of the Government to ‘The suffering of the Cham emigrants, who have been barbarically driven from their homes, is getting worse. Destroyed by the war and followed in the footsteps of the Zervisto-monarch-fascist gangs, the Cham families were displaced from their country to find shelter in other less damaged Albanian cities. Today, their number has increased significantly in these countries, and the problem of Social Assistance to find shelter and feed them is difficult. The first concern of the Social Assistance was to find a more or less suitable shelter. For this purpose, it built several Baraka, inside which a considerable number of Chams have taken refuge today. Along with this came the work of food and on this site, the Assistance has worked hard, so today a part of the canteens of the capital and other cities is occupied by invalid Chams, unable to work, and children. Here we do not intend to talk about the activity of Social Assistance in favor of Cham immigrants, we want to touch directly on their economic problem, the conditions, and conditions in which the Chams live today. You are saying that all the Cham families who have come to Tirana have found their shelter – at least one hut. And almost everyone has found material support such as food, clothing, and underwear on the part of our Government. However, they are in dire need of additional assistance. We had the opportunity to visit Cham homes. These, as we mentioned above, are barracks from the planks, inside you see only old mats and some rags with which they are covered. They lack fire, they lack light, they lack even the most basic things. We cannot distinguish the Cham from our burnt peasant, we can even say that the Cham is in much worse condition than our burnt peasant, because it has remained like a bird without a nest. There was something that made him want to leave. Greek fascists killed and pursued them. Where to come? Definitely here with us. These are our brothers. But they cannot resist for a long time in this state that they are today. They want to return to their villages. I spoke to Riza Cepari’s sons, a 15-year-old girl who told me literally: “Here I am, I want my place, I want my house. I remember the cattle, the fields, all the catharsis, and I feel like crying. We lost it all. My mother doesn’t know where she is. Does he live and die? All I have left is my father and my uncle. They have nothing to feed me, they have nothing to feed themselves. All these families you see around you are suffering. The Government helps us. Yes, and the government has a lot of problems. Who will help first? All her dreams, to marry like friends, to find a good home, fell like a castle of cards. What is bothering this girl today? She replies: “Only bread for the mouth!” Ç The ardent desire of the Chams to return to their homes is the most basic right, which cannot even be questioned. But as long as they stay here, we are of the opinion that the Social Assistance will open a campaign in support of the Chams, as was the case with “Children’s Week”. We are more than sure that this campaign will provide a good fund for the Chams, a fund that will facilitate the suffering of a period if not long but relatively difficult./Memorie.al