From: Alice Taylor
Albanian Parliament Votes to Prohibit Studying Communism Before 1944

The Albanian Socialist Party majority has passed amendments to ban the study of communism before 1944.

Yesterday, they voted to limit the activity of the Institute for the Study of Crimes and Consequences of Communism (ISKK) to only after the National Liberation War.

The Assembly also now has the power to approve the structure of the ISKK. Anything before November 1944 will not be covered by the scope of their activities.

The Institute was established in 2010 through the means of a special law. It’s funded by the government and aims to raise awareness of crimes committed during the communist era in Albania.

The 2010 law stated that “the period of communism is the period of the history of Albanian from November 29, 1944, to December 8, 1990, as well as the period before November 29, 1944, during which activities took place that paved the way for the Communist Party of Albania.”

Due to this definition of scope, the Institute has also supported studies from the period of the Second World War. Among them was the publication of works by scholar Celo Hoxha entitled “Crimes of the Communists During the War 1941-1944.”

The study was published in 2014 and included 265 names of those involved in the war who were involved in shootings, burning houses, robbery and other crimes. The Socialist Party opposed its publication and used it to justify changing the law.

As 2019 was the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the country from fascists, despite it paving way for the communists, the Socialist Party consider work by the ISKK for this period as “mud on the martyrs.”

The parliamentary opposition opposed the changes and called it an attempt to change and distort history. They said research should be carried out on the period between November 8, 1941, and November 29, 1944, covering the establishment of the Albanian Communist Party. This, they said, should be included in the scope of the ISKK.

The Albanian Labour Party, otherwise known as the communist party of dictator Enver Hoxha converted itself to the Socialist Party of Albania in 1991. This party is now in power with Prime Minister Edi Rama as its head.

The former head of the ISKK Agron Tufa was driven to flee Albania earlier this year. He has sought political asylum in Switzerland due to threats and harassment he received, including from Socialist Party MPs.

Enriketa Papa, a member of the ISKK condemned the news on Twitter.

“Today, when there are people in Albania whose graves are unknown, when we do not have a date to commemorate the crimes of communism, the servants of the dictatorship in the assembly want to stop the study of communism before 1945 and accuse political opponents of collaborationism.”

In June, Rama told Parliament; “my father was a communist and like many others, he was on the right side of history.”

In recent years, a concerning number of ex-communist politicians, investigators, spies, and officials have been put into positions of authority in Albanian institutions.

There has never been a public apology for the crimes committed during communism and there have been almost no prosecutions or convictions of those involved. Many families do not know where the remains of their loved ones are and countless others are yet to receive compensation for the time in forced labour camps or having their land seized.