Citizens Report Police Brutality at Ring Road Protests

Thursday, the Albanian tv show “Të paekspozuarit” interviewed some of the  Astir neighborhood ‘s residents that clashed with the police in the front of the parliament building during the protest against government’s decision to demolish their houses and businesses, without proper compensation.

Below, brings some of their testimonies:

—The 1st inhabitant

I call on the police and Prime Minister to immediately release all those who were arrested today on unfounded and false charges. They are detained for participating in the 19th day of the protest, like all of us, hands in pockets. Prime Minister’s language in the Parliament was perfectly reflected [on protesters] by the police in front of the Parliament building. The situation in the afternoon is a disgrace for this government – we were protesting peacefully as usual. They dealt with women and children. They had surrounded the whole Ring Road area in their hundreds.

The number of the injured is much higher than what the media reported.

I have two daughters, who were dragged [by the police] in front of the Parliament building, and they didn’t go to the hospital or anywhere else to file any report.

I call on the Prime Minister to come to realize that his language of force has united us and that he cannot scare us.

The citizen throwing a shoe [to the Prime Minister] today is a civil servant since 2014. His [family in his] house was intimidated by the INUK inspectors (now IKTM – National Inspectorate for the Protection of the Territory) and the state police officers. His two children – 11 and 12 – were horrified by those officers.

INUK went to demolish his house, and it was him and his wife to throw a shoe to the PM even though he works in the public administration.

The father hasn’t been here for 3 and a half years now, as they have moved to Germany. Their children left because of the violence and terror the state exercised on them.

We all have the self-declaration form, in accordance with the 2009 law for the legalization [of houses]. We have our names there [in submitted applications]; this law should protect us.

The New Ring area is threatened by the Lana River diversion, affecting more than 200 families.

The 2nd inhabitant (2 people arrested in his family)

The protest in front of the Parliament was like nothing before it; the police were terrified, the children were terrified. And the police were [in that state] only today. In these 19 days [of protests] we have seen no single policeman come to us. PM Edi Rama should stop saying this is all political because it was us calling the opposition [parties] to support us, given that no MP form the SP helped us. I was in the third row, and I fainted as the police trod on my body – I can’t remember more. I call on the Prime Minister to release our children from jail.

I’ve been paying taxes for 28 years to the state. If we are illegally here then Prime Minister should not ask taxes from us. We are citizens and not cavemen. I’ve got everything [house] registered and legalized. He can make this road with no [more] cost on us. He wants to have 2 thousand people out of their homes. We have sweat blood, sacrificed, and saved from our food. He should seat and think because we are going to defend our houses with our lives. He came here and showed his [bad] manners; I am insulted by his presence. He told me “I am here for the policewoman, not for you.” I say you are trying to create divisions between the police and us. I don’t want you to come here for me.

No inhabitant [of this area] owns three or four buildings. Those who do are not part of the protest. There are two projects affecting more than 600 families – the widening of the ring road and the extension of the Lana river boulevard beyond the “Pallati me Shigjeta”. Those owners PM Edi Rama mentioned are not part of the protest. We don’t know who they are.

The 3rd inhabitant

I was out with my kids and father-in-law. We were walking in the direction of the protest, and I stopped to take a look because I am also affected by the extension of the new boulevard. We were standing on the sidewalk when I heard my 16 and 17-years-old daughters scream. Then I saw my 13-years-old son being pushed into the police van. I told them “Please take me and release my son.” They took him. We were just going home.

A policeman had told my son he should go with them. My nephew asked them why? They told my nephew he should go with them as well. My son was released in late hours [of that night] given that he is only 13. One and a half year ago I lost a daughter.

We are affected by the extension of the new boulevard. Those affected by the first two phases were compensated; we have not.

The 4th inhabitant

We were given no official notification; officers of the ARRSH [the Albanian Road Authority] just told us we had to leave within 15 days, and if we didn’t demolish our houses, the government would do it, and we would have to pay a fine of ALL 5 million (4 thousand Euros).