From: Alice Taylor
Albania Remembers Two-Year Anniversary of National Theatre Demolition

On the second anniversary of the demolition of the National Theatre, citizens and politicians have condemned the action, mourned its loss, and called for justice.

Albania’s National Theatre during the early hours of the morning during the last night of the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. Just after 3:30am, armed special forces stormed the building where activists who had been protesting its demolition for over two years were sleeping. The demolition process started while activists were still inside, and items such as bags were never recovered from the rubble.

The demolition sparked several days of protests that saw police without ID tags use disproportionate force and violence against students and members of civil society. Several journalists were also detained or assaulted while reporting on the events.

Two years later, the site remains empty but walled off with no sign of any development or progress, leading many to question why there was such a rush to demolish the building on that date.

Ex-leader of the opposition and the Democratic Party Lulzim Basha called it “an open wound in the heart of Tirana”.

“A wound that suffers from the irrationalities that caused it and that are the same as those that have held the country hostage for these 9 years: arrogance, corruption, clientelism, crime money, and blind hostility to cultural heritage.”

He called the square where the theatre once stood, a dividing line between those that want democracy, and those that support destruction and plundering.

President Ilir Meta called the demolition a criminal act, adding it violated international conventions. He thanked those that tirelessly supported the plight of the theatre over the years.

“Gratitude to all non-conformist artists, independent journalists, intellectuals, and many citizens, who despite being treacherously betrayed by the opposition leadership, became inspiring symbols of resistance to arbitrariness, corruption, and state violence, awakening the public consciousness of danger. threatens national cultural heritage.”

Furthermore, he called for justice for the illegalities and said that Albanian justice had failed to bring those guilty to account or answer why the demolition was carried out in such a hurry.

You can read the story of the National Theatre here.