I PAJTIMIT MBARËKOMBËTAR
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100 days expedition of Reconciliation Missionaries, March 20th – June 30th 2009
Held in the assembly of reconciliation missionaries and board of Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation on July 30th 2009 in Academy of Sciences
The expedition of 2009 is a continuation of the tradition of weekly and monthly expeditions on the verge of religious holydays that have had positive results in the reconciliation and elimination of enmities. It is based on the experience of the elections of 2005, which was a very useful practice for the functionality of the network of missionaries throughout the country and was well-regarded by international organizations, parliamentary delegation of Council of Europe, and OSCE-ODIHR commission. In 2005 the chief of OSBE-ODIHR commission, Mr. Jorgen Grunnet, officially expressed high appreciations for the work of reconciliation missionaries, and Ms. Doris Pack, on November 25th of that year, included the strategy of CNR against blood feud in the agenda of the 12th inter-parliamentary session of Council of Europe.
CNR finds it necessary to organize reconciliation expeditions during electoral campaigns, not only for establishing the dialogue between the families in enmity but also for monitoring and keeping under control the situations created by the debates and confrontations of the political groups, and for the sensitization of the citizens for a wide and civilized participation in the elections.
The plan of the expedition of reconciliation missionaries in 2009 was compiled in December of 2008, according to the orientations of the National Conference “Poverty- the source of murders, suicides, family violence and human trafficking” that was organized by CNR on November 25th 2008.
The expedition was planned to start in March 2009, because two months before the work of CNR activists was concentrated in data collection of the conflicts and enmities in the country for the compilation of the national strategy against blood feud. This became necessary because the Albanian Government does not possess data for this phenomenon, and its national strategy for development and integration, does not plan the elimination of enmities and murders for revenge and blood feud.
The expedition of reconciliation started on March 20th, with the meeting of the main representatives of reconciliation missionaries. In this meeting, the chief of the European parliament delegation, Ms. Doris Pack attended and greeted the initiative, stressing the necessity of the cooperation of all the factors for the empowerment of the state in the fight against crime, self-justice and enmities.
For the successful ongoing of the expedition it was decided that within the first 10 days of the work the Third Congress of Reconciliation Missionaries be held on March 30th 2009, where all the representatives of the reconciliation missions and associations were present. In this congress participated and contributed with their speeches the President of the Republic of Albania and representatives of clergy and diplomatic corps.
The drafts of the National Strategy Against Blood Feud and the “Strategic Plan for the elimination of enmities and for integration in EU without blood feud” were presented in the Third Congress of Reconciliation Missionaries and were completed with the suggestions of participants in the congress and were handed to all the reconciliation missionaries and activists in terrain.
The strategic plan for the elimination of enmities and integration in EU without blood feud was sent to the President of the Republic, Chairmanship of Albanian Parliament, Prime Minister, parliamentary political parties, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Ombudsman, European Parliament Delegation, European Commission, United States Embassy, OSCE and all the other international organizations. The majority of these institutions has expressed the appreciation for this strategy and has stressed the importance of cooperation.
The congress and the expedition were organized on a voluntary basis without any support from the government and donors, except the representatives of the clergy. Although without support, the reconciliation missionaries were never discouraged. On the verge of the congress and Easter holiday the reconciliation of 4 families in Shkodra was realized and within April, the process of dialogue for reconciliation was established between 8 families in Tirana prefecture, between 6 families in the Dibra prefecture, and between 3 families in Kukes prefecture. During 100 days, throughout the country 42 families in enmity for injuries and accidental murders and 22 families in enmity for pre-thought murders started the dialogue for reconciliation. 267 conflicts for property in the village and 116 in the city were closed with agreement. Leading these reconciliation and the dialogue between the families were the revered missionaries like Sokol Delia, Avdi Rexha, Hamdi Bajraktari and Zenun Alia in Tropoja, Kastriot Bajraktari, Zef Sokoli and Palok Lumi in Shkodra and Malesia e Madhe, Pal Kuka and Bardhok Sulejmani in Mirdita, Ded Peraj and Frrok Perndoj in Puka, Sali Gera, Avdi Cenaj and Fatmir Vata in Kukes, Ndue Zefi, Xhemal Veseli, Ndrec Gjokeaj, Nuredin Hoxha and Bajram Lika, in Kruja, Pashk Lleshi, Fran Aliaj, Bajram Gashi, Myftar Lumunica and Pal Jaku in Durres, Vangjel Bello, Pash Uruci and Refat Murati in Lushnja, Bashkimi Sina and Hydajet Hoxha in Fier, Vehap Gjindoli and Tefik Zeneli in Elbasan, Tanush Frasheri in Berat, Pjeter Gjoka and Bardhok Frroku in Lezha, Hydajet Xhelili and Bujar Vasili in Vlora, the groups of reconciliation missionaries leaded by Zef Sokoli, of reconciliation asociate BENA leaded by Musa Abazi etj.
The expedition has established that the reconciliation missionaries that have done very valuable work for the Albanian state and society were never rewarded for their work. Furthermore the proposal of former President of Republic Mr. Alfred Moisiu that the local administration should give the missionaries service orders in the days when they work on reconciliation was never put into practice. For this issue the expedition asked for the compilation of a proposal to the government for giving legal and financial support to the missionaries that contribute in reconciliations for the days that they negotiate and for rewarding them with supplements on their salaries or pension funds. The expedition established that with the new law for the financial support of civil society the government is very able to cover the expenses of this initiative. For this the expedition asked to CNR to take the lists of names of the missionaries that have contributes in reconciliations from all the associations of reconciliation and propose the list to the Council of Ministers for the approval of the financial support.
Apart the clergy, the reconciliation process was supported also by the positive role of media through broadcasting the reconciliation on the verge of Easter holiday and the messages of the Third Congress of Reconciliation Missionaries on March 30th. A great support for the reconciliation missionaries through the sensitization of the public opinion and officials is the Free Thought Forum directed by the prominent journalist Mentor Kikia that has worked with this phenomenon for years. During the expedition, Free Thought Forum published a survey made in Shkodra prefecture, with the support of the United States Embassy, where it was evidenced the contact of 112 families affected by isolation and blood feud.
The reconciliation missionaries, apart their daily activity, assisted in all the meetings of the leaders of the political parties with the citizens and established that none of the parties had compiled programs for the elimination of enmities and murders for revenge and blood feud or for the support of the reconciliation process. The expedition established that the Albanian government and the local administration did not take any measures for protecting the right to vote of the locked in families. As a consequence of enmities, 1450 locked in and hidden families were deprived from the right to vote. Furthermore, 12500 families that are registered in the villages to vote but have moved because of conflicts for avoiding confrontation with the persons that they are in conflicts did not vote. From isolation, enmities and conflicts 35 000 citizens were deprived from the right and discouraged to vote. In the 30 days of June the work was focused on the sensitization of the citizens for a wide and civilized participation in the electoral campaign and elections. In 2009 it was made possible that the citizens participated in an excellent and civilized way in the election. Unfortunately, exponents of the political parties incited several times confrontations between groups and individuals with their speeches and contacts, stimulating murders whose number increased continuously even though the state police had very high level of responsibility during the campaign and the process of voting and counting.
The expedition established that more than 50% of the families in the villages have property related conflicts while in the cities the conflicts have a variety of reasons but still dominate the conflicts related to property and illegal buildings. In the cities the most problematic murders are the ones for honor, human trafficking, and random quarrels and for conflicts that came together with the families. The expedition established that the delay in the legalization of the informal buildings is an alarming problem that continues to bring conflicts and different social problems. The expedition established that this problem remains a worry of the citizens in all the districts of Albania and asked to propose to the new government to set the issue of legalization and the compensation and return of property as a priority. The Law 7501 which the two main political parties refuse to change should be amended for the parts of the lands that remain barren and registered unjustly as state property together with the forests around these lands because they are property of the families that have lived there or continue to leave there. The families that have accepted the distribution of land according to the law 7501 have not registered the majority of their lands fearing the high taxes but have build fences around them even though the commission of land distribution has registered this land as state property, in this way causing conflicts between relatives and neighbors. These lands and forest registered as state property should be registered as the property of the families that own the, specifically as property of the members of the family that live in the village and who deserve it according to the law 7501 as long as this law is still in power. The law should determine that these lands will not be taxed up to the moment that they are productive. The regulation of the property rights in the villages is necessary for stopping enmities and conflicts that go on for 20 years and for protecting these resources from degradation, alternation or unjust exploitation. Even though the state has registered these properties as state properties cannot use them because it would cause unprecedented and tragic events.
In April and May, the expedition was concentrated in the sensitization of the communities for the unconditional liberation of women and children. Contacts were established in all the communes, municipalities, and prefecture councils for founding cooperation in realizing an all-inclusive decision making. This is projected to be realized within 2010 with the support of another 9 month expedition. It is planned that the activities will be organized in cooperation with the government and all the state structures which will lead to a cooperation and decision making process in community and with the parties in enmities. Success can be reached only through raising the citizens’ awareness about the serious violation of the law and of the tradition that does not accept the violation of freedom of women and children. The tendency of the government to formally promise that they will solve the problem of enmities without compiling any strategy and without the cooperation of all the institutions and factors of civil society has only aggravated the phenomenon. In the reports of the missionaries of the expedition it was established that the mentality of Kanun is present in the cities as much as it is in the rural areas.
A serious alarm during the expedition was the increase of the number of the families and individuals in enmities deported from the western countries, the majority of which have sold everything for paying for a clandestine escape. Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation had contacts with the refugee boards and asylum providing committees and it confirmed that they are obligated to provide asylum by the declarations of human rights and Geneva Convention, but the Albanian embassies in these countries and political representatives in Albania have declared that the Albanian state protects the families in blood feud.
For this problem CNR contacted high officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, like its General Secretary Mr. Gazmend Turdiu. The officials of the ministry found the justification that the Albanian state cannot accept that it is unable to protect its citizens even though blood feud is a painful reality. In the contacts that CNR had with representatives of international organizations it informed them that the disguise of this reality by the Albanian government is a serious violation of human rights and international charters, which the government itself has signed.
Regarding the worries raised in the report of the ombudsman in 2008, for the cases of avoidance of the denunciation by the police, the expedition established that the police in the case of blood feud does not intervene to not aggravate the situation because otherwise it would cause even more bloodshed and cuts every possibility of reconciliation between the families in enmity. After every murder the police have advised the movement of the family of the murder from their environment for saving them from blood feud because the police do not have the measures or the support to control all the enmities and conflicts. In the majority of the case of denunciation the police is not supported by the justice system. The laws approved by the Albanian parliament for blood feud and the threat of isolation have aggravated even more the situation of the families of the victims because the criminal that has violated or caused victims before has a lot of space for profiting through the other laws of felonies lie sexual assault, kidnapping, murder, robbery etc. In the case when the police have used its power to protect the person threatened by blood feud, it has been targeted itself. Over 300 policemen have been unprotected by the revenge of criminals and have been killed. The murder of the Chief of Police of Durres Gani Malushi that protected a young man that was involved in blood feud, the murder of the policeman in Fier that was killed while negotiating in the house of his acquaintances and the case of the two policemen that were victims because they did not take back a denunciation in Kukes, are indices of the danger that state police faces.
In Albanian the prevention of murders can be realized only through justice and a negotiation and reconciliation process that are sanctioned with a law, but this process has not found the necessary institutional and financial support. The only ones supporting this process are the police forces that in all the cases are lead by humane feelings and the high responsibility for the endangered citizens.
Following the problems that were highlighted in the national conference on “Poverty – source of murders, suicides, family violence and human trafficking” the expedition reconfirmed that the poverty remains the most alarming problem for the communities of rural areas in all the districts of the country, and its extreme cases can be found in the north of Albania and in the districts Gramsh, Librazhd, Erseke and Elbasan. 58% of the enmities and Kanun related murders happen in the families with a low income level. This situation has become a source of stress and conflicts within families that have often also caused tragedies even in the presence of children.
The expedition confirmed the conclusions of the Third Congress of Reconciliation Missionaries: Although, Albania has a legal basis for the neutralization of blood feud phenomenon, from the fact of classification of blood feud as a murder that deserves maximal sentence, the punishment for threatening for blood feud and causing isolation, to the law for the resolution of disagreements with reconciliation, the phenomenon continues to remain present. This comes because there is no common strategy of the state with the NGOs specialized in this field. Blood feud has shrunk the activity of the law, police and justice organs because they are afraid of confronting it. Even if the laws were to be executed, a strategy with clear objectives and goals for eliminating the enmities that are born because of the Kanun mentality is necessary. There existed strategies against blood feud even during the Zog’s Kingdom and communist system. First the enmities that are caused by the laws should be eliminated by correcting the laws d the decisions of the government. Second, the strategy should stress the efficient cooperation of the state factors with the one of the civil society,... Coordination will realize successful efforts to stop, minimize, and quell blood feud. The strategy should predict the preventive measures for this phenomenon through the resolution of conflicts with reconciliation and the empowerment of the authority of the legal state, increasing the safety of the citizens, economical development of the rural areas, education about law and the sensitization of the opinion for trusting the state. Increasing the cooperation between the structures of the local power and civil society for pointing out, negotiation and solving the conflicts at the early state, for the reconciliation and liberation of innocent people, should be followed with the intensification of the work of police in community, documentation of the conflicts, detentions of murders and the wanted criminals, avoidance of conflicts that started because of blood feud, correct information of the public opinion about blood feud and Kanun. This is the reason that Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation is asking for a continuous frontal work from all the factors, to bring back the trust of the public in the state as well as to raise and educate individuals that work and think for peace, protection of their own and others lives. This asks for deep changes in the culture, mentality, politics, economy, legislation and overall a more trustable and stronger justice system. The trust of the public in the state can be reached through giving fair and deserved (maybe more severe) punishments by the justice to the citizens that commit crimes and politicians and governing authorities that abuse with politics, power and justice.
The expedition requests that this strategic plan should be implemented in a all-inclusive process that guarantees the support of all the citizens, factors of civil society, communities, interest groups, academic and scientific structures of the country, Albanian political and religious spectrum etc.
The expedition requests that the prevention of the conflicts is the basis of the realization of the strategy against blood feud. For this reason, Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation in cooperation with the cooperation network will ask for the amendment of the law 7501 on land, of the law on the return and compensation of estates and in all the articles of the penal code that are related to the crime against life, property and personal dignity. The improvement of laws and penal code will be done after an open public debate and will include all the factors for contribution. After the public debate these laws will be discussed and approved in the society and in all the Albanian territory and later will ask for the sanctioning and the support in enforcing them.
This report together with the other data and suggestions that this meeting will present will be sent to the Albanian Parliament, Albanian Government and all other state institutions, together with the proposals for the legal measures of sanctioning the cooperation of the missionaries with the state.
On July 30th 2009Tirana Albania
Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation