Published in the Turkish Daily Emek
April 1, 1997
Translated from the German
Seyit Aydogan - EMEK. The uprising of the Albanian people against the Berisha dictatorship continues. The imperialists have pushed the puppet Berisha into the background and are trying to push Prime Minister Fino into the foreground. Fino is shuttling back and forth between the Rebellion Committee in Vlora and the imperialist countries and is trying by means of empty promises to end the uprising. As the first requirement for further negotiations, he demands that they lay down their weapons. But the people are determined that they will not lay down their weapons until its demands are fulfilled. The Rebellion Committee recently gave an ultimatum to Berisha and at the same time warned the government [of Prime Minister Fino] not to take Berisha's side. Meanwhile, there was a meeting between Prime Minister Fino and the members of the Rebellion Committee of Vlora. There the demands were again passed on to Prime Minister Fino.
Session of the Rebellion Committee in Vlora
Within the Committee in Vlora the influence of the people and that of the Communist Party of Albania is very great. In meetings that take place twice daily, thousands of people meet and discuss further ways of proceeding. At yesterday's meeting (March 23, 1997), tens of thousands of people took part. After the meeting I was able to speak with representatives of the Committee. "The reporting in the foreign press about us is entirely manipulated. We will not lay down our weapons. If Prime Minister Fino coalesces further with Berisha, we will not recognize him either." I was able to clearly see that the people supports only the Committee and that they are firmly decided to deprive Berisha of power. In this discussion, I asked why they have not taken the capital Tirana, although Berisha has still not resigned. The answer was: "Berisha and the foreign powers are continually trying to create an artificial separation between the south and the north. They are trying to provoke a war between the south and the north. For this reason we decided that a march from the south to Tirana is not sensible. Such a march would reinforce this attempt of Berisha and the imperialist countries." The chairperson of the National Unity Party, Hidayet Besiri, who was recently freed by the people, made a speech calling on the people to "seize the initiative." Besiri described the uprising as a revolution and declared that the people should not lay down their weapons and should seize the initiative.
In Vlora, control is completely in the hands of the Rebellion Committee. There is neither chaos nor looting nor arbitrary shooting. At the mass meeting no weapons were carried except by people designated to carry them. Many people with whom I spoke said that the followers of Berisha were responsible for the nightly "shooting into the air." In their opinion, these people were planning a provocation.
Seyit AydoganB Interview with a member of the
Can you briefly describe the general development up to the uprising?
The rulers, after the dissolution of socialism, acted in the interests of the imperialist countries. They destroyed everything that had been constructed during the socialist period, and thereby brought the entire economy to ruin. All those who had brought about this situation gathered into Berisha's party. While they equated communism with fascism, they carried on their attacks against the Albanian people on all levels. While on the one hand the "market economy" was portrayed as a panacea, they closed the enterprises, unemployment increased by leaps and bounds, and the persons fled en masse to the capitalist countries. To put it briefly, the social problems became worse from day to day.
Moreover, the history of Albania was also manipulated by the new rulers. So, for example, the resistance of the Albanian people against fascism in 1944 was declared to be a civil war in which allegedly much blood was spilled between "brothers." The Albanian people were promised that they would quickly attain a prosperity comparable to prosperity in the USA. The younger generation was especially taken in by this propaganda. As an agent of this propaganda, Berisha was able to determine the internal politics during this period. Berisha's party represented a policy that contradicted the interests of the Albanian people. The country was sold the foreign capital, and this party claimed that there is no working class in Albania. Throughout the country, little stores and buffets were opened through which the free market economy was to be introduced. A large part of the population became unemployed, and a part of them went abroad as refugees. Meanwhile phony enterprises, mainly of US and Italian mafia organizations, were established in Albania. The regime spread the idea that these firms would become the foundation of Albanian capital. The people's wealth was squandered in such enterprises. Berisha claimed that the country would prosper through these enterprises. The country was thoroughly plundered, the population lived in poverty and misery and at the same time became conscious of the oppressive measures of the rulers, who were symbolized by Berisha.
Why is the name of Sali Berisha always being put in the foreground?
The uprising of the people against Sali Berisha means an uprising against the consequences of this system. Hundreds of thousands of people filled the plazas and the streets of the country and armed themselves. Berisha symbolized the imperialist exploitation, the selling off of the country, unemployment and oppression. Therefore the fury, that is apparently directed against Berisha, is directed at the same time against the system that Berisha represents.
Is this a revolution?
Without a doubt. The organizations and the administration of the system are no longer functioning. The military and the police apparatus are themselves incapable of functioning, with many members of these institutions joining the Rebellion Committees. This uprising is directed not only against the bankers, but against the Berisha dictatorship. The bankers are also pillars of this system. The uprising certainly did not arise overnight. On the contrary, since 1992 the people have expressed their discontent in various forms. In 1994, there were mass demonstrations in Tirana, Kusk, Rusen, Bals, Malakastras and Skapri. Political demands, such as freedom of expression, freedom of organization and speech against suppression, became the focal point of these actions. Moreover the demands of the present uprising are the following:
a) the resignation of Sali Berisha
b) dissolution of the parliament
c) holding new elections.
Two of these demands have already been achieved. These are undoubtedly political demands that could be realized by this armed uprising.
What were your proposals at the beginning of the uprising?
Our proposals were the dismissal of Berisha and holding of new elections. As you see, these proposals are largely accepted by the people. Even the bourgeois parties as well as the current Prime Minister Fino support these demands.
What role is the government of Fino playing?
The government of Fino and other parties can only lead the country to new elections, nothing more. None of the existing parties is in a position to solve the problems of Albania. I also do not believe in a quick solution. Only on a long-term basis can the existing problems, which are connected with struggle and difficulties, be solved. This uprising will bring our people numerous experiences and self-assurance. A people, that lived for decades under socialism and places great importance on independence, will not simply put up with everything.
Tell us about the committees?
The committees were chosen directly by the people in public meetings. Earlier the committee members may have voted for one or the other party, but now they represent the people and are recallable at any time. I can add without exaggeration: no other party has such an effect on the masses, because the people do not stand behind the parties, but rather behind the committees. That means therefore that the people do not feel represented by any party.
What would happen in the case of a foreign invasion?
The Albanian people would not permit any foreign invasion and would defend itself against it. It would give no one the right to do this. That is, moreover, a point on which we place great value. Those, who previously supported Berisha and made him a puppet of their interests, were formerly able to defend him. However, when the people armed themselves to prepare to put an end to this system and the exploitation and oppression connected with it, all of a sudden they were concerned about our security and well-being. That is an internal matter; moreover the people have risen up precisely in order to create security and well-being.
Why haven't the people marched to Tirana?
The uprising is presented in all the imperialist media as a north-south-conflict. If we were to march to Tirana, this would have only served Berisha's propaganda and would have provided only further bases for a foreign invasion. THE PEOPLE IN THE NORTH WILL NOT KEEP BEING QUIET! Berisha has not yet been removed.
What will happen at the end?
If Berisha resists longer, it will draw still larger circles into the uprising, for the Albanian people know that he is responsible for their abuses. The demonstrations will begin again and the mass organizations will continue. The people in the north will also no longer keep quiet. THE PEOPLE TRUST US!
What role did your party play before the uprising and what role is it playing today?
We must clearly explain here one thing. We had already counted on such an uprising. Therefore we intensified our activities in this direction. Our party members were involved in all actions on the spot. Already in the development of the first committees, our adherents played an important role. At present, our members take part in all the committees, and they can determine their direction in most cases. In the actions, the party does not appear by name, because it is not legal. But the people know well that we stand on their side and represent their interests; therefore they trust us.
Isn't the situation ripe that the party appear in its own name?
Not yet. The time is not yet ripe for that. We can also in this way establish our conceptions and carry out actions. The illegal structures will continue further.
The uprising offered you many possibilities...
Yes, this was indeed so. We are now in a position to reinforce our organizations and to carry out actions, that previously we were not allowed. It is our goal to expand the possibilities of legal actions so that we can better bring our program to the people.
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