Prime Minister Edi Rama has filed a lawsuit against one of Albania’s most respected human rights activists.
Sevim Arbana is the Director of ‘Useful to Albanian Women’ a charity that provides support and assistance to women and girls who have suffered domestic violence and abuse. One of the first activists after the fall of Communism, she is also one of the founders of the peace movement ‘Women Bridge for Peace and Understanding’ in the Balkans. She sits on the boards of a number of women’s rights and human rights NGO’s and campaigns for an end to violence, discrimination and abuse.
In 2005 she was part of the 1000 PeaceWomen nominated collectively for a Nobel Peace Prize, received an award for her contribution to human rights in France, and in 2019 was nominated a Global Woman Award in the category of “Leadership”.
Over the last 30 years, she has trained and helped find jobs for some 7000 Albanian street children through a number of centres located throughout the country. Arbana says she hasn’t received money from the government, instead funding her work with donations from private individuals and members of the public.
Rama, known for his alleged links with criminal gangs, allegedly rigging the 2017 general elections, and suppressing what is left of Albania’s free media, has filed for damages of 1 million Albanian lek (EUR 8,320) for comments she made on Adi Krasta’s “A Show” on News 24.
The show has since been taken off the air and Krasta has lost his job after Rama allegedly pressured TV station owner to do so, due to Krasta’s critical political views.
Arbana commented during a transmission on 29 January 2019 that she knew of an incident which occurred at the Sheraton in June 2013 during which Rama allegedly pinched a woman, making her cry. Arbana claims the incident was widely known.
“I don’t know how I could pay the fine, or even a lawyer,” she said. “All I have I give to my work, I cannot pay this”.
Arbana’s father was sentenced to 10 years in prison as an ‘enemy of the state” and her and her family suffered political persecution for many years under the Communist Party. Now over 65 years later, she is facing persecution from the Edi Rama, whose Socialist Party is a direct descendant of the Communist Party.
This lawsuit is yet another example of the government’s attempts to silence media, activists and those that speak out against them by means of intimidation and judicial harassment.