Seventy-five years after the anniversary of Tirana’s liberation from fascists, a number of stands were set up in the center of Tirana to pay homage to former Communist dictator Enver Hoxha and other leading Communist figures. Signs lauded Hoxha as “the leader and strategist of the Anti-Fascist National Liberation Movement and the architect of socialism.”
Hoxha’s forces drove out Italian and German fascists during World War II, but then went on to plunge Albania into five decades of the “most severe” communism in Europe.
Among those honored were high-ranking members of the Communist Party Nako Spiru and Spiro Koleka, a close family relative of current Prime Minister Edi Rama.
Despite the fact that Albania overthrew the Communist Party, who renamed themselves the Socialist Party nearly 30 years ago, many regime crimes remain unsolved. Furthermore, revisions of history and in school books for those involved in the brutal regime has not been carried out and there are many citizens still missing, and families who do not know how, or why their relatives died.
The Institute for the Study of the Crimes and Consequences of Communism (ISKK) has published some research on archival documents of these issues, noting a number of non-judicial executions carried out by Communist forces. Head of ISKK, Agron Tufa has received death threats on Facebook, and has had his institution’s work called “muddling the martyrs” by Socialist Party MPs who also called for his dismissal. The SP then restricted by law the rights of academics within the ISKK to study crimes committed by communists.
The Socialist Party has also refused to discuss claims that a number of figures from that time committed crimes, including Hoxha, Spiru and Koçi Xoxe, Mehmet Shehu, Fiqiret Shehu, Gogo Nushi etc.
Lukasz Kaminski academic and President of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience, who met with members of Parliament last week to discuss justice for those impacted by communism, commented that “only one member seemed interested” in their discussion and that the meeting was “strange”. He added that MP Ralf Gjoni warned against “former Sigurimi officers and party activists in high-level positions in the country.”
Deputy Defense Minister Petro Koçi spoke at a ceremony to herald the anti-fascist movement yesterday, stating that:
“70,000 partisans along with 50,000 other anti-fascist fighters fought for the liberation of this country. Today, when the descendants of the National Front Party and Legality Movement Party muddle over the heroes of the anti-fascist war, it is our duty to respond not only with the ceremony but also with dignity as to how important their sacrifices are. This is an undeniable fact in front of the world to feel in full dignity, thanks to their sacrifice. Glory to the partisans and martyrs of the homeland!”
Koçi made no mention of the estimated 6,000 people that were killed, 35,000 political prisoners, and some 200,000 people that passed through labor camps during Communism.