(en) News on Albania

I-AFD/IFA - A-Infos Germany (i-afd_1@anarch.free.de)
17 Mar 1997 21:48:00 +0200


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Hello!

The following are excerpts from two german papers who commented the situation in Albania, sometimes even reflecting the structures of social self- organisation that seemed to have evolved in somer parts of Albania during the uprising.

Both papers will see themselves on the left, one of them ("Young World" or "Junge Welt") is an ex-GDR paper with a radical communist outline, the other ("daily paper" or "tageszeitung") originates from the undogmatic, antiauthoritarian movement of the 70ies in Westgermany and today is close to the reformist wing of the green party.

This mail contains statements from the 17th., 14th and 13th of March, two of which have already been published on the Anarchy-List. It ends with a short discription of reports that came in on german TV stations as I wrote this.

JUNGE WELT (Young World) March 17, 1997, p.1

A front-page article commenting extensively on the EU-decision not to intervene in Albania (but instead send a councilling-group to help re- build police- and infrastructure in Albania) and statements made by government officials from several EU-countries not to take up any immigrants from Albania ends with the following piece of information on the background of earlier reports stating that the north of Albania was being populated by government-loyalists:

"[...] In Tirana at least 2.000 people gathered on the Skanderbeg-Square, shouted "Albania" and "Peace", waved flowers and called again on President Berisha to resign. The Police built Streetbarriers and men loyal to the government began building up militias [...]"

TAGESZEITUNG (Daily Paper) March 17, 1997, p.10

In a long comment on the situation in Albania in which he makes no mention of the structures of self-organisation in some town controlled by the rebels which had been mentioned several times last week, the former head of the german communist party, Christian Semler writes:

"[...] To compare the Situation with pre-revolutionary times or even times of political anarchism means mistaking Anomy, the reign of lawlessness, with a society in action. When the anarchosyndicalists respectively anarchists built their free regions in the spanish civil war, they could rely on a system of well-working institutions, on reliable moral and political norms, on an concept of autonomy that was strictly bound to the public wellfare of the communes. After all, the morality and lawfulness of the anarchists had been subject to well-meaning mockery in the revolutionary milieu for several generations. [...]"

TAGESZEITUNG (Daily Paper) March 14, 1997, p 8

"REVOLT IN ALBANIA SHOWS TRAITS OF CLASSIC FORMS OF ANARCHISM

Splt (taz) - His eyes as well as his whole body is bruised. 50-year-old Pellum Saliasi was lucky after all the tortures: he has survived. He also shows exceptionnel courage, he says the name of his torturer: Shik Stermasi, police officer. But he puts the blame for his lot on somebody else: "Berisha is another Pinochet", Saliasi says. "He has peaceful protestors arrested and terrorizes the people".

>From March 3rd on, with the proclamtion of a state of emergency, the
government has had arrested many members of the opposition, independent journalists, and students, if not arrested, they were beaten up and threatened, the Albanian Helsinki Comitee says. A report issued by this comitee documents several incidents. Many people in Tirana share the opinion that Berisha's government has deteriorated to a coorupt and repressive regime that had varnished a basically dictatorian regime with a mere veneer of democratic symbols. Some rebels express their views more outspokenly: Berisha's got to go.

This is a demand which gives a political aim to the revolt. By raiding police stations and army barracks, by taking arms and declaring liberated regions, the armed masses not only destroy the president's power but the state as a whole. The Albanian rebellion not only creates an anarchy in the sense of chaos, but take up traditions of classis anarchism. In towns and villages, the armed populace is in power, they have mass meetings and install an organization working from the bottom to the top. The conference of delegates from several towns in Gjirokaster follows this example. Even members of political parties are co-operating, but not in their function as party members. And there is another aspect which resembles an anarchist uprising: the terror started in "liberated regions" does not give a chance to those suspected of activities for special police [that's what they said, they were not talking about secret service here - comment by A-Infos] to survive. Perhaps a new leadership might emerge soon and have the revolt take up calmer forms. Up to now there have only been first beginnings of a new leadership. The uprising does seem to have a military leadership, as commander in charge of the rebel troops is General Ibrahim Zenon who was fired by Berisha only last December. The rebels, however, are not in a position to "march onto Tirana". Their example encourages the population in other towns to emulate the "liberated regions". The uprising of the populace grows since the powers in favour of Berisha resigning are strong. And the powers who would prefer to support Berisha are no longer in a position to summon up for a counter attack. The army is not prepared to shoot upon the population, the special forces commanded by the Minstery of the Interior cannot keep up control over the rest of the country. signed: Erich Rathfelder"

JUNGE WELT (Young World) March 14, 1997

The paper quotes an interview of a politician of the german Christian Democratic Party who had demanded a European military intervention to "end anarchy" in Albania. The article continues:

" [...] Incessant gunfire was to be heard in Albania's capital Tirana last night and in the morning, the country's only civilian airport was closed for reasons of security. Even in the capital, rebels seized arms and ammunition, marched through the streets shouting slogans against the government. All in all, seven military depots belonging to the Albanian airforce were raided in the region around Tirana, a military spokesman announced. One of these depots contained more than 10,000 guns. It was not clear, however, whether the activities in Northern Albania were also directed against President Berisha. The Northern region is said to be the stronghold of the president and the day before, a part of Berisha's followers have taken up arms in the north. In the Northern town of Shkoder, however, rebels looted several barracks. [...]

JUNGE WELT (Young World) March 13, 1997

"[...] The rebels who fight the authoritarian and market-oriented government of president Sali Berisha and meanwhile control one third of the country, now announce an initiative to build up a political structure. The so-called National Front for the Benefit of the Albanian People, founded in Gjirokaster where delegates from eight towns met to discuss, will co-ordinate actions against the government in Tirana. In a first announcement, the Front demanded Berisha's resignation as well as being admitted to the all-parties-talks on the present situation in Tirana. [...]

Today, TV showed Albanian population in seaports trying to board ships to immigrate to Italy. They were stopped by police and armed masked civilians. It was left unclear, who these people are but pictures showed that the situation was very tense with several of the armed civilians shooting in the air to drive the refugees away. Since there had been reports last week that the rebels where trying to rebuild infrastructure and had begun carrying out police-work (or asking police forces to take up their work again) in some towns but also reports of armed civilians loyal to Berisha, it is impossible to say on whose behalf these people were acting. It was also said that the ships carrying refugees to italy were controlled by the "Albanian mafia" and people had to pay high prices to get on them. However, there were no interviews or pictures as proof for this claim. Reports also mentioned that crowds of people gathered in front of the Office of the Socialist Party in Tirana where the former head of the party - who had been imprisoned (on false charges, he claimed) for months, escaped together with the inmates of a whole prison some days ago and was granted amnesty by Berisha yesterday - was holding a press conference. Both german tv-stations (the private news-station NTV and the two public tv-stations) and BBC World claimed that he was the leader that the rebellion had been waiting for. But on the background of the western press trying hard to point to whatever representatives they can and only reluctantly reporting about the fact that the parliamentary opposition had nothing to do with the uprising and even less about self-organised structures in its wake, this claim is at least questionable.

anarchist greetings, Robert (on behalf of the A-Infos Group in germany)

P.S.: Many thanks to the Hamburg group of the I-AFD (Initiative for an Anarchist Federation in Germany) for translating much of the above material into english.

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