By Dashnor Kaloçi
The first part
– The secret document with the unknown incident of two families from Vermoshi who, after coming to Yugoslavia, crossing the border at the border point “Bashkim” in Velipoja, gave interviews on Titograd Radio-Television-
Memorie.al / “The escape of 17 people is a serious event, to the extent that it brought damage to the work of the Party, while we, as the Border Force, did not fulfill our duty, morally, the people punish us, the enemy won in this battle as a whole this case reduced the striking force. For this event, in addition to the responsibility of the Post Command, the Command of Department 299, the operational sector in the Branch, and the head of the Branch, we, the command of the Headquarters of the Border Forces, also has a great responsibility”!
This is stated, among others, in an information report dated September 3, 1987, drawn up by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which informs the apparatus of the Central Committee of the PPSh, informing them of the event of that had happened on August 10 of that year, where at 02 o’clock in the night, two families from the village of Vermosh, with 17 people, had been able to escape to Yugoslavia, crossing the state border at the border point of Velipoja (Quadrat sector) of Ward 299 Tamara.
According to the testimony of H.G. a former senior soldier of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who on that day was in service as a Direction Officer in the Ministry, the radiogram of the Shkodra Internal Branch, which arrived that day at the Ministry, announcing the event in question, alerted not only the highest heads of the ministry where he served, but also the highest leadership of the ALP Central Committee, which was immediately set in motion.
Thus, on that same day, at lunchtime, a helicopter of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, on its board, the Minister of the Interior Hekuran Isai and the secretary of the Central Committee of PPSh Simon Stefani (covering the organs of Dictatorship of the Proletariat’), would urgently fly to the highlands of Vermoshi, where the highest leaders of the Internal Branch of Shkodra had already “landed” and also the District Party Committee, headed by the first secretary, Xhemal Dymylja .
This extraordinary event, (which would later become the object of long meetings and analyses), became more difficult, since only two or three days later, some of the members of the Vushaj and Lelçaj families gave interviews on the state television of Montenegro, (Radio-Television Titograd), which caused a great stir and was followed with great interest, not only by the residents of the Shkodra district, but also in almost half of the territory of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania, where they arrived the television waves of the stations of neighboring Yugoslavia. But who were the people of the Vushaj and Lelçaj family, what relations did they have with the communist regime in power, what were the reasons for the escape and how did they organize their plan, without falling into the eyes of the State Security bodies and their collaborators in that border area?
How could they not be dictated by the chairman of the People’s Council of the village and the commander of the volunteer forces of those villages, who, according to the testimonies of some residents of that area, had not only helped to catch some border violators, but was the man who had Zefi Vushaj’s family under strict control and surveillance, where only a few times before, he had climbed up to the ceiling of their house, to check for a few kg. beans that it was suspected that the family living in extreme poverty had acquired from the agricultural cooperative?!
How could the members of the Vushaj and Lelçaj families cross the state border, without being understood by the border forces, when among them were small children of a few months?! Regarding these and others from the extraordinary event of August 10, 1987, which shocked the senior leadership of the PPSh in Tirana, we know some archival documents (extracted from the Archive of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Tirana and The Central State Archive, the fund of the former Central Committee of the ALP), where in addition to the document with the report-information of the Department of Internal Affairs of the district of Shkodra, addressed to the secretariat of the Central Committee of the ALP, with the analysis related to that event, there is also the information report drawn up by the Chairman of the General Investigation of the Socialist People’s Republic of Albania, Qemal Lame, sent to the secretary of the Central Committee of the PPSh, Foto Çami, as well as several other documents, which are published every first, from Memorie.al
SECRET DOCUMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF INTERIOR AFFAIRS, WITH THE REPORT-INFORMATION SENT TO THE SECRETARIAT OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF APS, ABOUT THE EVENT OF 10/8/1987, IN VERMOS, WHERE THE VUSHAJ AND LELÇAJ FAMILIES ESCAPED TO YUGOSLAVIA, FROM THE BORDER POINT OF VELIPOJA
SOCIALIST PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF ALBANIA SECRET
MINISTRY OF INTERIOR AFFAIRS Single specimen
Tirana, on 3.9.1987
R E P O R T
THE SITUATION, CAUSES AND RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ESCAPE OF 2 FAMILIES WITH 17 YEARS OLD IN THE VELIPOJA SECTOR OF THE 299 TAMAR DEPARTMENT AND IN RESPONSE, MEASURES FOR FURTHER STRENGTHENING THE PROTECTION OF THE STATE BORDER
On 10.8.1987, around 02.00 in the sector of the Velipojë border point, squads (20.88), of the Department 299 Tamarë, made the escape to Yugoslavia, 2 families with 17 people. The family of Zef Gjergj Vushaj with his wife, son’s daughter-in-law and 7 sons and 2 daughters. In 1961, his family was in exile in Lushnja.
His father, Gjergji, was sentenced to 15 years in prison, as an agent in the service of Yugoslav Intelligence, later escaped and died in Yugoslavia. There is also an interned uncle. There was a family with T.A. (Operative Technique, eavesdropping), but there was no current data on hostile activity, he expressed dissatisfaction with the state of the agricultural cooperative. The Operative Sector has not recorded other data for this year.
The family of Mark Pashko Lelçaj, consisting of 5 people, has an uncle who was a martyr; he served in the army at the border. Mark, as a whole, is characterized as a brawler, he was Zefi’s son-in-law. From the verification of this serious event, from the data available and from the actions taken by the operational sector, it was premeditated. The idea for this purpose must have been cultivated long ago. The preparation and realization of treason against the motherland has been accelerated in July of this year.
This is argued: the call to the family of the son who was a soldier, in department 3688 in Korça; repayment of money owed to the son-in-law, where he gave him a mule and a pig, repayment of some money owed to neighbors; the organization of the evening by the youth of the brigade at the house of the fugitive’s brother; the low participation in work of some family members, in the month of July; I wrote several letters, out of dissatisfaction and hatred towards the local bodies of power and our economy.
Circumstances of the escape: On the night of the escape, 4 young members of this family were in the evening. At 24.00, they left the evening, under the pretext that they were waiting for them at home, with which the son from the army also arrived (Konto Vushaj). At 01.00, on 10.8.1987, the lights were off in their house, says the caretaker of the Post Office, Arif Burgaj, when he returned from checking the unit.
The direction of the Fuçini stream (300-400 meters to the left of the post office) was used as an escape route, in order to avoid noise and provide camouflage. From the tests done, since the stream is very deep, the gunshot was not heard from the post office. The distance from the houses to the border line is 1 km. The terrain was familiar to them and Zefi worked on the border line, as a worker of the Forestry Exploitation Enterprise.
The family that escaped: There were bad relations with the local government and economic bodies in the area. It is proven that on 16.9.1986, the People’s Council surrounded Zef Vushaj’s house with armed men, under the pretext of finding the beans, which their son, Doda, was suspected to have stolen, in fact, the theft is not proven.
On 5.9.1987, by order of the Council, the fence and several meters of potatoes in the cooperative’s yard were uprooted, accusing him of having more than what the cooperative’s statute stipulates. Although this family consisted of 12 people, only one worked in a state enterprise, the others worked in an agricultural cooperative. It was economically tighter than other families in Vermosh, who live in better conditions.
As a whole, the local government and economic bodies in the area have not found ways to resolve and overcome the contradictions with this family. The solutions could and should have led to the prevention of the event, which gave the enemy the opportunity to throw this family into complete hostility against our socialist order.
The causes of the escape: As far as the situation is known, the causes are: Because of their hostile disposition, which must have been recognized, exploited, encouraged and organized by the Yugoslav Intelligence. The incitement may also have been made by the visitor who went to Vermosh, Gjon Nikçi, who lives in New York, USA, the reason may also be the sectarian actions committed against one family (of Zef Vusha).
The possibilities for detecting, preventing and striking this sharp hostile activity. Despite the fact that the operational sector, with the data it had, was not in contact with the preparation of this hostile activity and this situation, it must make a special analysis, the shortcomings of the border, were: Measures to carry out the task of guarding the state border, have not been complete and effective.
The direction where the escape took place, the Fuçini stream, was seen as a possibility and not as a reality, since it was not secured by force or means. In the postal sector, there were only two flares. On the night of 9-10.8.1987, the post office guarded the border on standby service No. 3. We emphasize that this post also has a picket on the right wing (Vojan’s Picket) with 10 people.
The direct workforce of the post office is 15 people. One was on leave, one worked in the liaison group that was opening the cable line channel, Vermosh-Seferçe, and 13 people remained. In addition to ready service, RP. NPP, (cook, butcher), for this date there was one unit before night, one unit after night and 2 units during the day, for guarding the border, on both sides of the forested sector and ensuring economic works and forest exploitation .
The post commissioner was in Shkodër, the commander at the checkpoints, at the custodian post, who checked the unit, from 11:00 p.m. to 01:00 a.m. From what was emphasized, it appears that the forces have been used. Near the site of the castle, there was a church, from 21.00 to 05.30, in a straight line, 300 meters from the stream. Since the stream is very deep, there was no possibility of the unit to maintain the river bed at its depth.
On the river, there was no means of signaling the passage or taking immediate action. Therefore, in an 8-hour period, there was only one service unit, or in 5 km. a unit. The drawback is that, although it was Sunday to Monday, none of the volunteer company, or the armed men of the Branch, had been activated for service, when the youth evening was also held in the village and could be used by the enemy element, as was done .
The caretaker of the post, when he returned from the control, around 01.00, when he saw the movements in the village, did not react, to notify the command and to take additional measures. The service of the unit must have been exposed by the residents and the internal enemy element, according to the road from which the unit was moving, to go to the left side of the post office, it goes through the village and is observed. In Fuçini Creek, there are currently no bridges to cross to the other side.
For the 7-month period, (January-July), the command and staff of the 299 Tamar Department worked at the Velipoja Post Office for a total of 25 days, or on average, 3.4 days every month. The number of days is relatively good, but its yield, the demand on itself, to deal with the most important problems, such as those of the service, has been insufficient. What are the shortcomings of the command and headquarters for the organization of the service at the Velipoja post office?
The situation has not been connected continuously in years with the data and actions in the Vermoshi area. The Yugoslav intelligence has tried to compromise our forces in Seferce and Lëpushë, has taken women to the border line; 3 shepherds escaped in Seferçe in 1985, they escaped in May of this year, the soldier of the Quadrat Border Post, etc., then this intensity was connected with what would trigger other escapes, to deliver such strong blows, as he gave.
The malicious activity has not been connected with the hostile one. In Vermosh, there are thefts, cases of immorality, quarrels, fashion, opening of foreign stations, but these are not seen as phenomena that lead to hostile activities, that these activities can encourage Yugoslav Discovery, through its agency in Vermosh, or visitors. In continuation, but also the new command created in Tamara, has not carried out engineering works, for the construction of bridges, so that units can move, and not go to the village.
In the stream of Fuçini in Velipoja and in the river of Vermoshi, at the Border Point, Bashkim, such bridges have not been built, to be permanent and with perspective. In general, there has been no concern to study the terrain for the placement of tools, BK-17 also exists on the right side of the post office sector, from Mara’s grave to Fuçin, it has not been worked on at all in these 2-3 years.
The performance of the service in disguise, has not been seen in the complex, issued with the default of the service line in the summer season, not long before the forest, but as the forest begins and not exposing the service places. He did not insist to the Head of the Branch, that the Operative Workers of the zones go to the border posts every month, according to the instructions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, No. 01-128, dt… and that a joint analysis be done every 6 month, between sectors, under the direction of the Head of the Branch.
In the months of January-February, April-May, and July, the Operative Worker, Fatos Idrizi, did not go to this post, there was concern, but it did not become a problem until the Party Committee and the Ministry. Even in the two months that coordination took place (March-July), no problem was exposed for these two families who escaped.
The escape of 17 people is a serious event, to the extent that it brought damage to the work of the Party, while we, as the Border Force, did not fulfill our duty, morally, the people punish us, the enemy won in this battle, as a whole, this case reduced the force striking. For this event, in addition to the responsibility of the Post Command, the Command of Department 299, the operational sector in the Branch, and the head of the Branch, we, the command of the Headquarters of the Border Forces, have a great responsibility, specifically:
- On the basis of the existing posts in Tamara, a special battalion was created with new command, staff and cadres, without work experience, organization and management, at the department level. In addition, the difficult initial conditions of deployment had a negative impact. First comrades were sent to help concretely; later separate cadres and working groups were sent, in June 1987. Since this ward, for a year was not covered with a direction officer, despite the great intensity we had in the wards and directions others, we accept that the proper help, quantitative and qualitative, has not been given enough in this department.
Whether we had the opportunity or not, we definitely want to do more. We had no information about the concerns in the moral-political condition of the inhabitants of this area, but regardless of this, we knew that, on one border, there was a great pressure from the Yugoslavs for compromise. To go deeper, in the analysis of the situation in that area, to reach such conclusions, a deeper and more intensive work would be required. Exactly for these, comrades: Ferit Zeneli, Enver Pata, and Ismail Skeja are charged with responsibility.
- As evidenced above, in the area of Vermoshi and specifically in Velipojë, there was a very active and tense operational situation, deficiencies in maintaining the secrecy of the service, in the readiness of simple tools, in the activation of voluntary units, etc. ., but they have not been analyzed and studied in depth, by the support and control team, who worked in this department for over 10 days. Consequently, the situation was left as it was before, gradually it was maintained, aggravated, until the escape was realized.
This places direct responsibility on comrade Haki Liço, as responsible, and comrades F. Llaka and Besim Xhixha, as members of this working group. The facts show that these friends have done a shallow, formal, ineffective job. In addition, not going deep into the complex recognition of the situation, in the post office, in the village, in the sector, and on the border, and the impact. The help and request to the command of the Battalion and those of the posts, has been low.
- In some cases, such as this case, a wrong concept is evident in practice, which is costing us very dearly. It is thought that this or that direction, hill or mountain, is impassable. Based on this, in these directions, which have been used by enemy elements, for massive forts, some commands do not take measures to protect them. Memorie.al
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