By Prof. Dr. Hazbi M. Shehu
This was just the beginning…!
Spring is undoubtedly the most beautiful season of the year, but sometimes it also appears ruthless. Nature together with people wakes up from hibernation. Geologists prepare to go out on the field, placing in their bags the necessary equipment: Map of the region, block, compass, hammer, etc.
It has been and is a special pleasure for me to go out on the field, because you are directly confronted with “living” geology. In the month of March; I have a birthday, which I celebrated as usual in the family circle, but not infrequently and with work colleagues.
Also, in March 1975, I and some of my colleagues were expelled from the Institute of Oil and Gas Studies and Design. So, this month remains unforgettable for my family ?! this was just the beginning…! The events took place, according to the scenario compiled by the ruthless communist dictatorship.
In the situation of a tense atmosphere, in one of the premises of the Institute, the basic organization of the party gathered. This was not a regular monthly meeting, but a ‘special’ one. It was organized by order of the district Party Committee, but without further ado in collaboration with the Internal Affairs Branch.
This meeting of the basic organization of the party resembled court hearings. Its members were being punished there. At the center of the blows with fabricated charges were geologists. In the meeting room, here and there, were unknown faces, who were probably “delegates” from the State Security. They moved their heads as much as left – right, front and back, as if they were placed on bearings. One of them brutally dictated to me where to sit…?! I sat down without making a fuss, while on the right arm, next to me, sat unconscious.
On my left arm, two or three rows in front, sat Koço Plaku. Several rows behind him, stood in chairs: Beqir Aliaj, Protoko Murataj. Behind me, by the wall, had taken place: Rrapo Çela, Thanas Ziu etc.
Unfamiliar faces were distinguished by dress and frequent head movements. They had serious looks. In these circumstances, each of us thought to himself: Would he come out of this meeting “without getting wet” with “stinking water”…!?
For several days, you have been whispering about hostile activities in the economy, especially in oil, but nothing was known exactly?!
During this time, I led the paleogeography team. In the composition of the group were my colleagues: Rrapo Çela, Dhimiter Prifti, Irfan Bega. Wonderful people, tireless workers, honest and humorous and as a result of this society I felt relieved. Our team had no primary task to design exploration wells. In fact, I was wrong, because in the accusations the whole activity for the time of working as an engineer was “analyzed”.
I must point out that during my investigative process, I heard and understood a lot; and all of them, I intend to elaborate on them in a separate article. Enter the hall as “triumphants”: The First Secretary of the District Party Committee, Pirro Gusha, the Deputy Minister of Mines and Geology; Zenel Hamiti and the deputy director of the Institute, Petraq Xhaçka, took their seats in the presidium. They looked frowning and threatening.
These well-known figures certainly had detailed notice; concrete instructions and measures to be taken for specific persons. Piro Gusha and Petraq Xhaçka still did not know that they themselves would be in the “enemy casserole”, but that they had to wait their turn?! On the contrary, for now, Petraq Xhaçka had to be defended, “he should not be confused with others”; was emphasized in the instructions coming from above.
Koçua has long suffered from heart and spine. He walked with his back bent and for these he was hospitalized several times. On one of these days, Fatri Kadilli and I, with jam jars in our hands, went to visit him in the hospital of Fier. Koçua had fallen very morally; This was confirmed by his expression: “If I will not come out of the hospital alive, please, from my salary, give five hundred lek to Ilia Dhimulla, because I owe it to him”. ‘What a fool you are saying ore Koço ‘?! Fatriu and I said at the same time! A giant like you, demolished the hospital, healed quickly because we have work to do at the Institute. To change the conversation, I showed him a joke.
I do not forget the accusation invented for the “group of saboteurs in oil”. I was one of the oldest geologists and a constant member of the Scientific Council, where exploration wells were approved. In this advice each material was given in writing accompanied by maps, profiles approved by the respective groups, based on a very strict regulation. Who would be the man to make the best geologists of the Institute, with a mind to approve the drilling of a well in a region without perspective?! This is beyond any logic.
Continuing his speech, Piro Gusha repeated several times, saying that: “There is hostile activity in oil and mainly in the Institute. Specialists here have deliberately avoided new discoveries of oil wells. Wells are designed outside of perspective structures for oil and gas; with sabotage intent, damaging the popular economy”.
The accusations were mainly focused on Koço Plaku “You Koço Plaku, the brother of the enemy of the people, you will answer for these”, addressed Pirrua, Koço. Koçua reacted immediately: He got up from the place and said in a trembling voice: “Yes if I had the opportunity, with my own hand, I would pluck the gurgle from that maskarai “!
Then, Pirro Gusho, addressed Beqir Alia, saying: “You too, Beqir, let us know, but nothing came out”! Beqiri did not react. It should be mentioned that, with the mediation of Pirro, Beqiri, who lived with his family in Patos, came to Fier, the neighbor with the first secretary, Pirro Gushon.
Inadvertently, my eyes went to Koço Plaku. Ay, he looked very worried and nervous! He expressed this state of mind by biting his lower lip. It was understood that the heaviest punishment would belong to Koço Plaku.
The first secretary of the district ordered the basic organization of the party to expel from its ranks: Beqir Alina, Koço Plaku and Protoko Murati. Koçua begged the grassroots organization to allow him to live the life of the party as a party candidate. But both Koçua and Beqiri were unanimously expelled.
As for Protoko Murat, since Pirro Gusho, who set the tone for the meeting, did not say anything special, there were discussions that he should not be excluded. In his defense, discussed: Rrapo Çela, Thanas Ziu and some others. The goal was temporarily achieved, but after a few days, Protokua had the fate of Koço and Beqir.
The list of persons who were expelled from the Institute was then read. The expelled were to appear before the Paros Committee of the Patos region the next day. There you will decide on their assignment to the respective companies.
These were: Beqir Aliaj, Protoko Murati, Koço Plaku, Milto Gjikopulli, Thanas Nasto, Ded Marku, Dhimiter Stefa, Fatri Kadilli, Pal Nikolla, Bedri Kokomani, but as life showed, this was just the beginning of the “migration” of geologists.
The next day, early in the morning, we went to our offices; for the last time. In my office drawer where I worked; I had some personal blocks and a geological map of Albania. During this time, a former friend of mine was standing next to me, but not Irfani. He watched carefully what I was getting. I realized, that ay had come for me, sent by the “leadership”; so, I told him everything and said: did you want to check?!
In Patos, one of the secretaries of the Party Committee of the region was appointed for our distribution: Kristaq Papa: a very good boy, educated, polite and a geophysical engineer by profession. Ay distributed us in production companies: Patos, Ballsh, Verri, Marinza.
Protokon, Fatriu and I, were assigned to the Marinza production company. Although my person was not talked about or discussed at all at the meeting, it did not calm me down; because everyone understood, that expulsion from the Institute, would have avaze back. It seems, that I was on the other list. Subsequent facts showed that I was right.
What eased me a little, was the fact that I was not alone, but with devout and honest friends. I have experienced on other occasions that grief and pain are strong when you are alone. I felt absolutely innocent, and I had hope in the Great God. Memorie.al