By Afrim Imaj
– The unknown story of two 11-year-olds from the village of Sukë in Shkodra, who were sentenced to prison in 1987, accused of tearing up the photo of two Party leaders-
Memorie.al / “We started playing with our friends and ended up at the police station with handcuffs in our hands. There they accused us of agitation, propaganda and hostile activity. We didn’t understand what it was about. We were small, very small and we didn’t know what people’s power, communism, penal code, and article 55 meant. In his account of the unusual event, Gjergj Mazia from Suka e Dajçit tries to stop at the most important moments, without they pay attention to its details. The whole story, according to him, was “a stupidity of the State Security”, which insisted on finding the opponents of the regime even among the minors. This is what happened in his case as well.
It was the afternoon of March 3, 1987, when the “vigilant eye” of the secret police discovered the perpetrators, who tore up the photographs with the portraits of Enver Hoxha and Ramiz Ali in the corridor of the Suka Dajç School. The hit was immediate. Gjergji Mazia and Fredi Ograja, at that time fifth-grade students had to account for the crime of agitation and propaganda! Intensive investigations continued for 30 days in a row to give way to the judicial process. The revenge against the two minors was merciless.
In his interview, 32-year-old Mazia brings for the first time the complete chronicle of this unprecedented event.
God George! In one of the files of the former secret police, the judicial process is archived, in which you were accused of the crime of agitation and propaganda against the popular government. What is the true story that this document is about?
A vulgar event that I never wanted to remember. Even when someone mentions it to me, I feel bad. The truth is that apart from getting the hyenas of the Security, there is nothing interesting in it. It all starts and ends with a disgusting alibi. You to someone and one fine day, when no one expected it, he found two criminals propagandizing the overthrow of the Labor Party’s power (!). Lies! Mundane things…!
However, such an allegation for the time was not something common, was it…?
For the time, it was really a pretty serious accusation, but we were small, very small, its defendants…!
How old were you then?
We were only 11 years old. Two fifth graders who were obsessed with toys. Just two minors, even in a miserable condition. Where we knew everything meant people’s power, communism, penal code and article 55. A “game” was staged somewhere, and we little ones became big criminals, who had dared to challenge Enver Hoxha and Ramiz Ali!. You’re leaving me. Forgotten pasts. It’s not worth making a hero with such stale stuff…!
In the court case file, you are accused of tearing up the photo of Enver Hoxha and Ramiz Ali. Do you remember how it happened?
This was the accusation. For the first time we got to know him when we were taken to the Department of Internal Affairs. A tall, wild-faced interrogator, who was the first to enter the cell where they put us, greeted them wildly: How dare you, you bastard, touch the pictures of the glorious leaders! This hit us like a bomb. As young as we were, we felt the danger of something like that. At first, we hesitated to answer, but how could he not talk to you. Then we told him it wasn’t true. The investigator slapped us and immediately threw the evidence that confirmed his accusation on the table…!
So you were called there because the police had secured evidence proving the crime of agitation…?!
It was something terrible, when the investigator introduced us to them. As he waited a few moments for our answers, he opened a large folder and took out two color photographs, which were dusty and torn in places. He threw them on the nearby table and, turning to us, continued fiercely: “Here, this is your work! Remember that we sleep! Who gave them this task? UDB was paid”?
So, I stretched my head and looked at them. There were two portraits of Enver Hoxha and Ramiz Ali, which we looked at every day in the school corridors. We were surprised at how they got there. Who had laid hands on them?! However, it was us, the two fifth graders, who had to answer for their tearing. The inquisitor seemed very determined to antagonize us. The furious look in his eyes meant the doom that awaited us…!
Let’s go back to the moment of the arrest. Where were you when the handcuffs were thrown?
It was the afternoon of March 3, 1987, somewhere around three, three-thirty. We were playing with our friends on the school field when the cooperative president’s gas arrived there quickly. He barked at our feet, and out came the all-powerful of the area, who, with handcuffs in hand, called my name and Fred’s. In a few seconds he took us by the arms and put us in the car. From there he took us to his office in Dajç.
From Dajçi we were sent to the Department of Internal Affairs. Then the confrontation with the accusation began…! They accused us of agitation and propaganda, against popular power. I remember that, in the entire lecture of the investigator and the prosecutor, article 55 was mentioned. According to them, Fred and I had secretly entered the school and had torn the pictures with the portraits of the senior leaders of the Party…!
Was the accusation that the investigator made against you true?
It was all a fabrication based on slander and false testimony. The only evidence, according to them, was the torn photographs. They were enough to find us guilty and punish us according to Article 55…!
However, you later learned the truth of this scenario. How did the police secure the torn photos?
The process, as I said, started on March 3 and was closed sometime towards the end of the month. A team of investigators and police interrogated us day after day. Many witnesses, known and unknown confronted us. We had to accept their alibi. According to her, we had secretly entered the school and after taking a soccer ball there, we had torn the two portraits of the Party leaders as a sign of hatred!
After all that excruciating exhaustion, we definitely had to “surrender”. That the Security, the Interior Branch, had to report the success of the strike against a dangerous group. In conclusion, what happened happened. Despite the fact that the UDB man did not show up, who according to them, had paid us for this stupidity…!
Did you ever learn the names of the whistleblowers and the people who set up the script for this crackdown?
Some of them came out to us openly, during the days of the investigation and the trial. The others who worked behind the scenes, of course, had no way to be legally identified. However, many of the names that became part of this history are already known. Among them I can mention the name of Preng Gjergji, the former Operative Worker of the area, that of Hasan Jera, the former plenipotentiary of Dajçi, etc. Meanwhile, I can’t forget the former judge, the investigator, the prosecutor, even the guard police, who looked at us with hatred as if we were terrorists. Anyway, I tend to forget the bitter yesterday. We have a lot of work ahead of us and we need understanding…!
The two events that shook Suka at the end of the 80s
Suka, a small village in the municipality of Dajçi, experienced two shocking events in the late 1980s. Surprisingly, both in March, on the eve of spring. The first event was a barbaric demonstration by police forces, which dragged the corpse of a murdered boy across the state border in the center of the village. The next event, had a different background, but still just as creepy. Again, a triumphant parade of police forces, with two children in handcuffs, going to give an account for the crime of treason and agitation!
Mirash Mazia, the 60-year-old who has fixed these two shocking events well in his memory, says that he has a special connection with them. More precisely, with their victims. His close friend was killed for trying to escape, while one of the two minors arrested, in March 1987, for agitation, is his son, Gjergji. “In any case, – he told us these days in his house, – we must understand the significance of such actions. The dictatorship was experiencing its last throes and such actions were needed to keep people in a panic”, explains the man who was injured in both demonstration strikes. So his brother, Gjoni, connects the arrest of two minors with the growing repression of the secret police, on the eve of Ramiz Ali’s visit to Shkodër.
- FREDI ORGAJA: son of Luigji and Maria, born on 21.09.1975
- GJERGJI MAZIA: son of Mirashi and Luke, born on 22.08.1976
Accusation: They tore up the photo of Ramiz Ali
“Agitation and propaganda against popular power”. This is the charge on which the Court of Shkodra has expressed its verdict against the defendants, Gjergji Mazia and Fredi Ograja, in the process of March 30, 1987. Two torn photographs with the portraits of Enver Hoxha and Ramiz Alia were the only evidence which confirmed the crime provided for by the infamous Article 55. At first glance at the court record and the way the charge is articulated, the impression is created that it is a crime committed by adults.
But, when you carefully read the file in which the dynamics of the court session are documented, it seems paradoxical and unbelievable that, that serious charge belongs to two children, who have not yet turned 11 years old. Two minors, in front of “people of justice”, had to answer for the crime of agitation and propaganda. Here is what is written in the minutes kept during the process…!
DOCUMENT / On behalf of the People
Shkodër district court, consisting of
Tatjana Laçaj, judge
Jakup Mataj, nd/judge
Hysen Kraja, nd/judge
Assisted by the secretary Lumturi Piraniqi, with the prosecutor Mimoza Pajon, examined in an open court session, with defense attorney Violeta Sulku, the case that belongs to the defendants:
- FREDI ORGAJA: son of Luigji and Maria, born on 21.09.1975, student in the fifth grade.
- GJERGJI MAZIA: The son of Mirashi and Luke, born on 22.08.1976, student in the fifth grade in Suka, Dajç.
ACCUSED: For agitation and propaganda.
The court, after reviewing the case materials, after hearing the prosecutor, after hearing the defense that asked to exempt the defendants from punishment, after hearing the defendants who asked for mercy,
On 03.03.1987, around 15:00, the minors Fredi Orgaja and Gjergj Mazia, residing in Suka, Dajç, entered through the window of the elementary school Suka, Dajç, and in cooperation between them, they tore the photograph of the leader as well as they stole a soccer ball and some children’s pens. The perpetrators, after entering the school, in the school corridor, tore two pictures that were on the school stand.
Then they entered the classroom where they found a portrait of the leader, and tore it up. In this closet, the minor Fredi Orgaja also stole a ball and some pens. Fredi, the minor, has hidden the ball and pens in his apartment. This minor, from the moment of the question of the beginning of the criminal case, has explained in detail the way of carrying out their actions, actions which, as described above, are consistent with the minutes of the inspection of the scene, with the statements of the witness Franc Prozhni and the minor witness Martin Livadhi.
The minor Gjergj Mazia claimed that on that day, it is true that at 15:00, they met together, where Fredi had told him that he was going to enter the school to steal a soccer ball, and then he said that he met him after he entered the school and Fredi told him that he had stolen a soccer ball.
The very fact that the two juvenile defendants met on the day of the incident is proven by the juvenile Gjergji, that the above conversations took place, that the witness Martin Livadhi saw the two together on the day of the incident, that Gjergji entered through the window inside, as Fredi, as well as the latter, told him that I tore up uncle Ramiz’s photograph, while Fredi had taken the ball and the pens, prove that these two minors have carried out the work of agitation and propaganda, foreseen by Article 55 of the Criminal Code.
According to the civil status certificates, it turned out that the two defendants, in the fifth grade of the eight-year school Suka, Dajç, i.e. aged 11, entered the school to get a ball to play with, and then committed the crime, it shows that the two minors, for this mental or physiological development, have not allowed them to understand the social danger of the criminal offense. Teachers Franc Prozhni and Mine Pjetri, questioned during the court session, testified that they were not disturbing in the classroom and due to their age they did not understand the importance of the crime…! Memorie.al
Shkodra on 30.03.1987