From: Alice Taylor
Albanian Prime Minister Claims Moral Debt Has Been Paid Over Communist Victims

Prime Minister Edi Rama claimed that his government has “done as much as we can” to bring to light the story of those that suffered during communism and continue to suffer today.

In an extraordinary speech given today at the inauguration of an exhibition of former state security documents called “Sigurimi in its own words”, Rama said:

“All the stories of persecutions and tortures coming from the dictatorship, beyond just personal suffering, they are stories of suffering embedded in the social conscience. In that of other generations, in those who were born during the communist period but were able to build another life, and in those who are born in the post-communist period and for whom communism is a story learned from books or the elderly, but not a fact of life.”

He added:” We have tried to do as much as we can, although it’s certainly never enough to bring this story to light.”

Rama also said that while many issues of the time are still unresolved, Albania has “managed to set some benchmarks for the past…it’s given many people the opportunity to open doors and explore stories yet to be discovered.”

He claimed that Albania, under his rule, is one of the few countries to take steps to shed light on the facts and documents related to the persecution of citizens.

Rama also noted that in 2018, they signed a cooperation agreement with the International Commission on Missing Persons. This same Commission slammed Albania in a 2021 report for failing to find missing persons and pay compensation to those that are due.

The Prime Minister then claimed that the approach and will of his government is enough to “bring light in all the dark parts of our historical consciousness”. He continued that it’s important to find the remains of those still missing, but didn’t say how they intend to do so.

During his speech, Rama claimed that “all those who suffered in the hell of communist prisons and are still alive, we have fully repaid them with compensation.” He added that they will work to find a solution for providing pensions for those forced to engage in manual labor in mines and similar, who currently receive nothing.

He then said that “in relation to all those who personally suffered in communist prisons, we have repaid the moral debt.”

Also mentioned were those still missing that were murdered and executed between early 1944 and the end of the regime. Rama did not mention any pledge to find those individuals.

The reality is that 30 years since the end of communism, there are over 6000 people still missing. There is no state memorial for victims of communism and no national remembrance day for the tens of thousands that died. Furthermore, there has been no official apology from the state. In schools, very little is taught about the regime and the crimes that were committed, therefore many young people have little idea of what happened. In terms of searching for missing relatives, families have found themselves blocked by prosecutors who have refused to pursue cases.

The International Commission for Missing Persons also reported that cases they filed have been pending with prosecutors for more than three years with no explanation as to why.

Not only that but there are many who worked in justice, law enforcement, and other senior positions in the Communist regime who enjoy positions of power in politics and the same institutions today. There has been no prosecution for those involved in human rights violations, murder, executions, or torture during communism.

Additionally, the government has forbidden the Institute for the Study of the Crimes and Consequences of Communism to study communism crimes before November 1944. This is despite the fact it was a period of great interest and included the formation of the communist party. Furthermore, there were a number of murders and executions that took place during this time.

Rama’s father was a leading communist, Kristaq Rama who signed the death warrants of various citizens including poet Havzi Nela. In Parliament in 2020, he said:

‘My father was a communist like many others, they were on the right side of history.”