(en) Albania Report - 03/29

Mon, 01 Mar 1997 00.38 GMT

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Note on Origin: The I-AFD (Initiative for an Anarchist Federation in Germany) is a small anarchist organisation in germany attempting to build an extensive structure of all anarchists regardless of theoretical differences to improve effectiveness, cooperation and discussion within the anarchist movement. It is organised internationally in the IFA (International of Anarchist Federations).

Robert (for the A-Infos Group in germany)


*I-AFD Group Hamburg I* (i-afd_2@anarch.free.de) ALBANIA REPORT from March the 29., 1997

Sorry - moving house took longer than we thought, but I'm back now.

Yesterday evening or last night an Italian warship collided with an Albanian naval vessel carrying refugees; the Albanian vessel sank within minutes. The Italian warship meant to prevent the Albanian vessel to go into the port of Brindisi.

Italian authorities claim that the Albanian captain did not pay attention when asked to stop and, by a sudden manoeuver, ran into the Italian warship. Survivors deny this and say the Italian vessel rammed them.

Last night, news reported 4 persons dead (by today noon, the figure was raised to 5) and 34 survivors rescued from a total of about 60 persons. Tonight's news reported there were about 120-130 people on board. Due to the rough weather, wymyn and children were put under deck, and men had to stay on deck. Therefore, 30 of the rescued are men. These 34 persons were rescued already last night, no more survivors were found today, although they searched with ships and helicopters. Considering the weather conditions, only those had a chance to survive who were picked up pretty immediately.

Italian police closely guarded the surviving persons and formed a cordon around them, but apparently some were being interviewed by journalists and told them the vessel sank so quickly that people under deck had no time to even cry out before the vessel went down. It was said that the vessel is some 800 metres below sea level so it was most likely that the dead bodies will not be rescued.

An Italian military person appeared on TV saying that it was not their fault and indeed it had been their goal to save lives from the beginning.

Albanian prime minister Fino has called on Italian authorities to investigate the matter.

All reports called the Italian vessel a warship, whereas the Albanian one was described as a naval vessel. I suppose this makes clear which was the bigger one and what went on there, bearing in mind the hardliner course Italy adopted towards the refugees - I suppose in plain English this is called "accidentially on purpose". On Monday this week, reports said that Italy had already deported several hundred Albanians without giving a definite figure.

Also UN security council voted in favour of a military mission to Albania with 14 ayes; only China abstained, saying these were internal Albanian affairs.

A force of 2,500 will be sent approx. within a week. The force will be under Italian command [most probably because the Italian army already proved they can successfully deal with Albanians last night]. Officially, the force will have the task to protect shipments of humanitarian goods and will be limited for three months according to the decision taken. Italy will send 1,000 soldiers, Greece another 500, the rest has not been decided upon as yet. The force will make secure the ports of Durres and Shkoder for shipments.

In an interview, Fino said he hopes that foreign troops will arrive soon and was glad that the resolution was taken in record time. He added that this most likely was not a large scale humanitarian mission but hopes that they will strengthen the local police. The correspondent added the force will have to engage in disarming operations to be safe.

Last night's radio news announced that another barracks was plundered and arms taken away by the population, but the did not mention where this happened.

Red Cross sent in a lorry with food and medicine to southern town of Elbasan today, starting from Greece, as a test for further transports. Pictures shown on TV gave the impression that there were no problems regarding the unloading operations in Elbasan.

There was a "no comment" from the port of Durres where a vessel carrying potatoes was unloaded. Unloading operations were pitiful to watch; as the men working did not know their arse from their elbow, most hieves shown went down again into the vessel's load room. I also saw several pretty old men working who were well past retirement age. I suppose most of the men at work were no dockers. Apparently they did manage to get some cargo out of the vessel as they showed pictures of lorries carrying potatoes in the end.

Pictures also showed policemen armed with guns guarding unloading ops. I noticed that they did not wear regular Albanian police uniforms which are blue, but green combat-like dress. They wore a piece of cloth saying police and something else beneath but I was not able to make that out, unfortunately.

In Vlore, another meeting of delegates took place to discuss further actions. The citizens' comitee(s?) admitted journalists to this meeting. The correspondent mentioned that regular police was co-operating with the citizens' comitees. It was clearly stated that there were also delegates from northern towns, however, they did not mention from which towns. The meeting confirmed that they want Berisha to resign. Pictures showed a womyn delegate who said they want him to step down in peace, but if Berisha wants it otherwise, they are prepared for that, too (at least, if the translation was correct). This statement got a lot of applause from the audience.

The correspondent said there was a demo with several thousand participants in Vlore yesterday which also demanded Berisha's resignation. Pictures showed it was a peaceful demo and there were no armed persons in the crowd.

German radio news announced that Germans returning from their Easter holiday will face severe controls at the borders. Interior minister Kanther has ordered customs and police to carry out tight controls to prevent Albanian refugees to come into Germany. Normally, there are no controls at most borders due to the Schengen treaty. Why Kanther believes Albanians will come into Germany in cars with German registration plates has not been revealed in the news. Also, the news did not mention that these tight controls were only to be carried out at the southern borders, so they seem to think Albanians will try to get into Germany via Denmark or the Netherlands, for example.

That's it for today & cheers, catkawin ## CrossPoint v3.11 ##

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