By Andi Bica
The Muslim cleric’s account of the tragic history of his family, from the most famous and patriots of Myzeqe
Memorie.al / The English state in January 1920 was very interested in the continuation of the modern Albanian state, after the independence of Albania, and the Conference of Ambassadors in London. We can call this moment; a Second Independence of Albania. The representative of the British government himself, known as Iden, personally participated in this event. He stayed for a month during all the sessions of this congress, very important for the fate of Albanians after the end of the First World War. Ideni was a model friend in the house-museum of Sheh Karbunara in Lushnja. The Congress House of Lushnja is almost burnt down. It is said by Mr. Shemsi Shehu, that she had the ceilings covered with gold. It was a luxurious villa, with the immeasurable spaces of a manor.
The confession of the cleric Shemsi Shehu
“For as long as the military units stayed in it, it was preserved and maintained. With the takeover by the agricultural cooperative, the final destruction began. The parquets were washed with cattle water, the ceilings were torn off and the carved boards were stolen, the walls were painted with putty. Only the tiles remain. The domes of the teke, at the time of the demolition of the cult buildings and the prohibition of belief in God, were demolished and replaced with village roofs, which are now rotten.
There was no moment during January 1920 that Ibrahim Karbunara did not send protest notes to the attitude and actions of Turhan Pasha Përmet. Riza Karbunara, has shown that the house hosted one night as a friend, Ahmet Zogun; turned into a mini-palace of congresses in a month, the delegate Avdyl Ypi was also killed there, in whose honor a minute of silence was held at the opening of the proceedings of the Historical Congress.
Congress of Lushnja
Sheh Ibrahim Karbunara, opened the proceedings of the Lushnja congress, in the meeting hall in Kaso Luga’s house, with a holy plea, as a blessing or a good omen, in protection from the many surprises of the turbulent political time in the country. The introductory speech was delivered by Ferit Vokopola, who was elected to the authority of the general secretary of the assembly. His Excellency Mr. Aqif Pashë Elbasani responded to the lecture with fiery patriotic words, as evidenced by the written archival documents of the state, published in the magazine “Hylli i Drita”.
There, Sheh Karbunara and Lazër Bozo were elected as deputies of Lushnja. This came as a sign of gratitude to all the participating personalities for the city which, unlike Durrës and Elbasan, opened the doors for the organization of this decisive event, in the fate of Albanians. But my grandfather reacted positively, stating that this patriotic act cannot be rewarded with a few seats in the senate, as such was his character, which did not accept inflated merits, at a time when the fate of Albania was threatened by loss of territorial integrity and national identity.
Together with Mytesim Këlliç and Abdi Toptan, Tirana was once again designed as the capital of the future. The decisions of the Lushnja congress were implemented immediately upon closing its proceedings, and the government under the leadership of Sulejman Delvina, the Deputy Prime Minister, Eshref Frashëri, the Minister of the Interior, Ahmet Zogut, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mehmet Bej Konica, the Minister of Education, Sotir Peci, of Justice Mr. Hoxha Kadria, with deputy Mr. Hysen Bej Vrioni, Minister of Finance, Ndoc Çoba, with his deputy, Mr. Idhomen Kosturi, focused on the heart of Central Albania, Tirana of epoch-making hospitality.
The special commission of five people was represented by Irfan Bej Ohri, Qazim Kokoshi, Kostaq Kota, Faslli Frashëri and Adem Peqini. Eye-witnessed unity, which is unparalleled. The security of this congress was maintained by the army of 2000 Matjans, of Ahmet Zog, known then for his sensational successes, in terms of national defense, from the attacks of foreign armies, especially Serbs, in the North of the country.
The house is preserved as a house-museum, but Teqeja e Karbunara should also have the same treatment from the state authorities. Still, no one has been obviously interested in both buildings, while the only person who donated without limit for the strengthening of the modern state was persecuted by the dictatorship until the barbaric execution with the black luck trial of the deputies. It is a rare emblem throughout the prosperous land of Myzeqe”.
Interview with the Islamic cleric, Mr. Shemsi Karbunara
What was the fate of your grandfather, Sheh Ibrahim Karbunara, with the installation of the communist dictatorship in November 1944?
Sheh Ibrahim Karbunara, the indisputable authority of the territories of Myzeqe and Dumre, and the founder of the Congress of Lushnja, who enjoyed extraordinary popularity, after the liberation, was charged with the task of deputy in 1945. At that time, he wanted to Albania should not have only one party, but should have a position and an opposition, as a democrat that it was. The government arrested all these personalities, who shared the same political convictions, and formed the ‘Group of Deputies’ and in their Special Trial, Sheh Karbunara was sentenced by firing squad, along with his son Hysen.
At the same time, Shefqet Beja, student and follower of the progressive path of Sheh Karbunara, as well as his closest friend, was sentenced. Next to him, other friends of the constellation of liberal and patriotic democrats were Riza Dani, Enver Sazani, and many other deputies, who were looking for a free Albania, a democratic republic, as we are today. Communism immediately eliminated them, seeing them as the most dangerous opponents.
How did you experience the arrest of MP and statesman Ibrahim Karbunara, can you remember that day?
I remember very well that they came at night, surrounded our house and searched, after they entered by force. When they arrested the grandfather at home, he told them that he was a member of parliament, but they told him that his immunity had been waived and they isolated him in a room. They sat him in a living room and for a couple of hours, they raised the whole house. I remember as a detail, we had some family jewelry in the dresser, they sealed it with wax and the next day, they came and took it. Where they pierced, God knows!
Seh Karbunara, as a man from the rich class that he was, had as jewelry a gold ring and a watch, this second one, I don’t know who might have taken it, but I saw the ring in the hands of the person who came and arrested him, the ring it belonged to my grandfather, he still has it in his hand, if he is still alive. They took all my family’s precious jewels without record and took them to the jeweler, who could not appreciate their true value, but they never returned them, and nothing was taught about the “treasure” again. small house.
After they looted what they wanted, they took the Shehu of Lushnja with them. Hysen, the son, had been taken three days ago, because he did not enjoy the protection of the deputy. We could not speak a single word, due to the fear and pressure of the torture. They took us out of the house, put us in a hut and from there, they took our house. But the house was in the name of the father, who regained it again through court.
They found another form, with the tax equal to the value of the house. We were forced to leave without a single thing in Tirana and stayed sheltered by a friend of ours, Man Brojka, in a shop, until 1953. Then, my father was exiled to the villages of Lushnja and other uncles, to Vlora. Since then, we have been persecuted cyclically.
What did your grandfather suffer in communist prisons, as a democratic deputy, in 1947?
After Ibrahim Karbunara was arrested, he experienced the most severe and inhumane tortures. They even hung him by his feet, throwing buckets of cold water at him. His son was stabbed in the thighs and filled with salt, forcing him to say and do as they said. See Karbunara, he started and finished the trial, only with “No” and “Yes”, the rest he did not accept, with conviction until the end. This was a completely fabricated trial, against the intellectuals of the time, such as; Riza Dani, doctor Enver Sazani, Pertef Karagjozi and these people were subjected to the most severe torture.
When my aunt said at that time, let’s go and see them in prison, how they are, they found in Sheh Karbunara’s cell, his clothes and those of my uncle, Hysen, stained with blood. Seeh Ibrahim, when the death sentence was given, his eye did not tremble, but the rosary in his hands, fell and knocked only once. This is what a friend, an eyewitness, told me in the hall of the Court of Deputies. He testified once again, that at the end of his life, he was a statesman, with a strong, brave character, and he stood up to the accusations, literally.
He was accused of allegedly wanting to replace the Stalinist power with allied powers, such as the Anglo-Americans. Just as Bahri Omar’s first group was eliminated, with Fejzi Alizoti, the false trial wanted to eliminate Sheh Karbunara, Riza Dan and Shefqet Beja from the political scene in the same way. The latter was hanged in the timber field in Tirana, while Riza Alizoti, formerly hanged in Kuçovo, and Sulo Klosi, were hanged in Rubik, as professional oil and chrome engineers.
Sheh Ibrahim Karbunara, according to the sentence of the court, should have been hanged, but since he was a cleric, he was shot together with his son. His political ideal, for Albania, was not only one party in power, but pluralism with all left and right groups, from social democrats, liberal, conservative or democratic. But the dictator Enver Hoxha wanted his own party, and time clearly showed that he ate the closest friends he had, generals and officers, up to his own prime minister.
Mr. Shemsi, to your knowledge, how was that criminal event received and interpreted at that time, in the press of Western countries, that is, for the shooting of Sheh Ibrahim Karbunara and several other deputies, who were convicted in the “Trial of Deputies”, in 1947
All the newspapers of the world, in addition to those of Albania, write with echo about the sensational event or the news of the murder of another part of the elite of the Albanian nation. In Italy, England, the USA, the ‘Trial of Deputies’ was commented on as a crime against worldwide democracy, but unfortunately, this could not be reflected in the press of Eastern countries, in which it was deliberately kept silent. The facts speak for themselves, even today in the state archives.
All his friends, who were on the run, commented in the European press on the bravery shown by Ibrahim Karbunara and Shefqet Beja, their manhood, while many other MPs were a little bent from the torture. The prosecutor in the infamous trial was Josif Pashko, he sentenced his son to death by firing squad. The other comrades were sentenced to hanging, on the same day, in Tirana, Rubik and Kuçovo.
The deputy prime minister of that period, 1945-’47, was Koçi Xoxe, and the dictator Enver Hoxha wanted to eliminate him, along with the entire political class. While at the head of the parliament, as far as I remember, was Dr. Minarolli. Seeh Karbunara, in contrast to his friends, was educated in both Eastern and Western European universities. He was the oldest, born in 1877 and shot at the age of 70. Of the 17 executed, on October 10, 1947, three deputies were sentenced to be hanged and the other 14 to be shot.
Have you had the chance to meet his friends, or historians, researchers, journalists, etc., interested in the polyhedral figure of your grandfather?
We never forget our grandfather, MP and religious leader, Sheh Ibrahim Karbunara, while condolences via phone and mail have regularly reached me on this day of mourning, from England, France, Germany and Austria. Various journalists have received information and pictures of him, in my house, which has been turned into a museum of the Court of Deputies. I remember the British journalist, who told me, in the ongoing dialogue, that he intended to dedicate a magazine under his name to Sheh Karbunara.
When Dr. Mentor Çoku arrived from Italy, we went out to meet him in Rinas and after the presentation of the head of the Alevi community, I was also introduced by Beqir Ajazi. Immediately he became enthusiastic and hugged me out of respect for his grandfather, expressing to the audience that; Ibrahim Karbunara, is the “Honour of the Nation”, an immaculate, intelligent and ardent democrat. As a personality who lived in the West spoke, who came to his homeland after 40 years of isolation, so did other personalities, his contemporaries, from Ali Këlcyra to Eqrem Bey Vlora have expressed their opinion about it.
His written destiny, to give his life for Albania, for which he breathed and worked until his sacrifice. Even today, ironically, Sheh Ibrahim Karbunara, like his contemporaries, the national poet, the clergyman Padër Gjergj Fishta, is still without a grave, together with the 16 democratic friends of the “Court of Deputies” who cannot be found the bones. Memorie.al