From: Alice Taylor
Citizens Protest Latest Case of Police Violence Against Journalist and Activists in Albania

Dozens of activists, citizens, and artists protested last night in Tirana over the latest allegations of police brutality.

They gathered in front of the Ministry of the Interior to demonstrate against alleged violence used by police against National Theatre activists and a journalist. The previous day, journalist Ergys Mertiri and activists Donald Martini, Astrit Seranaj, and Gentian Hasani were detained for several hours without charge. They reported the use of physical violence against them during detention.

Those detained were members of the Alliance for the Protection of the National Theatre which protested against its demolition for almost two years. They also organised last night’s protest and made several demands.

  • Measures are taken against the State Police and those who used unjustified violence. These measures should include their dismissal and criminal proceedings.
  • The dismissal of and criminal proceedings against General Director of the State Police Ardi Veliu.
  • Restructuring of the State Police so it’s returned to citizens

The protestors accused the government of governing with police violence and using it to suppress the rights of citizens.

The news of the four individuals arrest was announced on Facebook via a video. The footage shows that the activists and journalist were forcibly detained by the police. The motives for their arrests are still not clear.

Journalist and activist Ergys Mertiri said that police forcibly deleted footage from his phone that, according to him, included evidence of police violence against activists.

In a Statement to Fax News, he added that his mobile was taken by force and when they returned it, the footage was deleted.

Seranaj, an architect, said that the police had assaulted him.

“We were mistreated by the police and were physically abused. My colleague as kicked in the face,” he said, referring to Martini, a choreographer and professor of the arts. Photos were published showing several bruises and abrasions on his face.

Over the last two weeks, four journalists have been detained by Albanian police while working. They reported being assaulted, having footage deleted and being forced to sign statements they did not write as a condition of being released.  Others reported slight injuries and damaged equipment from tear gas, pepper spray, and water cannons used to disperse protestors during protests against the murder of Klodian Rasha by a policeman.