Yesterday, 10 citizens of the Astir neighborhood of Tirana, who had been protesting the demolition of their homes and businesses as a result of road construction these last few days, were arrested and taken to Police precinct no. 6, in Kombinat. The citizens, who included elderly people and a pregnant women, were arrested for supposedly organizing a protest without a permit.
Among those arrested is a pregnant woman, who told FaxNews:
They accuse us of organizing a gathering or a protest, and they say that it was all illegal. We are being put out in the streets, this is our state, where will I go?
I will not be prosecuted, but the rest will. They set me free only because of my pregnant state. We called a lawyer. They want us not to protest. Of course we will continue protesting. I have nothing left to lose.
Another protester said that his mother was taken into custody, and the police assaulted her, to keep her from protesting again:
Today the police took my mother into custody. They were heavily pressured into not protesting and they were told they will be prosecuted for gathering illegally. We haven’t hurt anyone, we are protecting our rights, with our flesh and blood. This is our police, degenerates, take pregnant women into custody, arrests 70-year old fathers, and keeps them in cells. We demand our people are released without being prosecuted, or we will sleep in front of the precinct door.
Despite the police intervention, the citizens remained determined to continue protesting to protect their property.
The government plans on tearing down more than 300 buildings, homes and places of business, to make place for the reconstruction of part of Tirana’s outer ring road, from what is known as the “Pallati me Shigjeta” to the Shqiponja roundabout. Citizens claim that the initial plan was changed, and they were alerted to the fact that their property was destined to be demolished a mere three days ago.
Citizens claim that the project was changed for clientelist reasons, in order to serve the interests of several businessmen that intend to build apartment buildings in the area.
Find more regarding this project’s shady tender competitions and shell companies registered in tax havens here.