The final phase of the project "Dealing with the Communist Past of Albania" was a conference in Tirana international Hotel on 4-5 February 2013. The purpose of the conference was:
highlight the importance of preserving the Communist prisons as part of the
historical testimony and inform the public opinion as well as the competent
structures on their present condition.
* To bring to public attention the issue of
the social integration of the ex-persecuted.
* To appeal to the state structures
the emergency of revealing the perpetrators in the interest of fairness to the
* To establish how to deal with a violence burdened past so that it
serves reconciliation and is perceived correctly and objectively by the coming
The conference started on the 4th of February at 16:00 with an exhibition of photos from the prison of Spaç by photographer Barbara Haussamann. The participants had the opportunity to see the decaying conditions of the place and draw their own conclusions. Along with the photographs, there was also an exhibitions of paintings inspired by communist persecution and sufferance by painter Gjovalin Paci. The paintings have a striking effect and give a profound feeling of persecution and repression.
After taking their time to see the exhibitions, the participants moved in the conference room and the work sessions started. There were around 200 people participating from the class of the ex-persecuted, representatives of the state structures, representatives of NGO-s, publicists and other scholars devoted to the issue of the communist past.
The session started with the speech “The Importance of the preservation of the communist prisons as an important historical testimony for the future” by Gezim Peshkpia – ex-persecuted; known publicist; member of the Institute of the Study of Crimes of Communism.
It was immediately followed by the speech of Pjeter Pepa, well known scholar who has devoted lot of his work to studying the ordeal which the Catholic Church had to go through during Communist Regime. His speech was very loyal in bringing the stoicism of the Catholic clergy and the unspoken attrocities they had to endure for the sake of their ideals of faith and humanism. His description were so intense, so full of vivid pictures that they brought tears in many eyes.
After these first significant speeches, we played the documentary “The Silent Gates of Hell” which was an account of the history of Communist Persecution and the present condition of places of sufferance. It was realized in collaboration with the Institute of Study of the Crimes of Communism and was supported by Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Albania.
Following the documentary there was perhaps the most interesting part of the first day, a Panel Discussion. The participants were:
Peter Weiss – President of MKF; Member of the German Parliament
Fatos Lubonja – Well known publicist and political analyst; ex-persecuted
Mark Marku – Member of the Albanian parliament, active in the issue of the ex-persecuted
Amik Kasoruho – Well known publicist, meber of the Instute of Study of Crimes of Communism; ex-persecuted.
Monika Kleck – Representative of Renovabis – Responsible for the projects in Albania
The panel was moderated by Agron Tufa – Head of the Institute of Study of Crimes of Communism
The panel was opened with the speech of Peter Weiss who brought a German perspective as well as the experience of MKF in dealing with the violence burdened past and the processes of preserving the historical memory and putting it in function of reconciliation.
Afterwards the floor was given to the other members of the panel in random order: Mark Marku; Fatos Lubonja; Monika Kleck; Amik Kasoruho. They shared with the audience their personal experiences concerning Communist persecution (Fatos Lubonja; Amik Kasoruho) and offered their analysis about the situation where we stand and what has to be done in order to fulfil the objectives. The work proceeded with the questions from the audience which were handed to the members of the panel in written form.
The second phase of the conference started the next day, on February 5th in the morning with a more limited number of participants. The second day was conceived in the form of a round table with about 50 participants.This day was very intense as some of the participants had to share their memories and experiences of their years in the Communist prisons.
The testimonies followed in this order:
Simon Miraka – Testimony from the prison of Tepelena
Fatos Lubonja – Testimony from the prison of Spaç
Bardha Saraçi –
An important part of the second day was the participation of the young generation. We had a dozen of students from the Jesuit High School “At Pjetër Mëshkalla” who have been in Spaç in October. It was good to have their impressions in the conference as they leave aside the political connotations and focus only on the humanist aspects of persecution and sufferance.