Zharrëz Marchers Spend Night in Front of Ministry

The hunger strikers, who marched for four days from their home town of Zharrëz to Tirana after two hunger strikes failed to get the attention of the government, have spent the night in the open air in front of the Ministry of Energy, after the police prevented the protesters from installing a tent. Clashes with the police led to one of the protesters needing treatment in the hospital.

The hunger strikers protest the destruction of their property and environment by the oil drilling of Bankers Petroleum, and demand compensation from the government and an end to the activities of Bankers.

Yesterday, during a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Niko Peleshi, the government promised an investigation of the damages, but the protesters refuse to leave until the matter is definitively solved.

After months of silence, months in which the inhabitants of Zharrëz were in a hunger strike, Prime Minister Edi Rama finally came around to address the issue, in a comment on Facebook. (Far before US President Trump popularized to use of social media to circumvent mainstream media, the Albanian Prime Minister has ignored traditional methods of providing accountability to the public.)

Precisely this government has been working for months for the solution of a problem inherited [from the previous government] and that only we will solve, because we know how to solve problems, while the others only know how to create them or to comment on them with crocodile tears! [The protesters] don’t have any reason to put up a tent in front of the ministry, because they met with the Deputy Prime Minister and were informed in detail about all the work that has been done to solve the very complex problem that was created there years ago. […]

I am very sorry that you went 126 km on foot, but that doesn’t make you a hero because you did not only willingly make that long march, but also because you could have avoided it for yourself and [the other protesters], if you had taken the information that they took in the meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Rama furthermore promised to come to Zharrëz himself to present the “solution.”

If indeed the government has been working so “hard” on the problem “for months,” it could have had the decency and humanity to inform the people from Zharrëz a little bit earlier, before they risked their own lives and families in an act of complete despair. But like the rest of his government, Prime Minister Rama blames the previous government for all that is bad, while praising itself for all that is good.