Not only as a mother but also as a medic I have felt the extraordinary concern that each and every one of us feels about those hundreds of women and children included in the tragic phenomena of blood-feud. Even though it is very difficult to give my maximal contribution, because of the nature of my job, I have and will always be close to their misfortune till the end. To me the encirclement of women and children is the most flagrant violation of the human rights, freedom and our national tradition. This is unprecedented in our history. They have historically been protected by our society, by written and unwritten rules.
Better than anybody else the representatives of the people elected by them should know this have not yet been seen in their areas to meet with these people. What is worse is that none of the parliamentarians have a list of the persons encircled/shut up in order to submit it to the states or international institutions. The blood-feud phenomena and the families encircled/shut up are and indicator of an unacceptable situation for the whole society, that asks for dedication of all its factors and of the international community at all costs.
On March 22nd, 2003 I went to the farthest point in North Albania, in Iballe. I wasn’t only going on behalf of the president but also with my own will as a Board Member of the National Conciliation Committee. From Fushe Arrez we had to travel for more than two hours on a non asphalted road. During those two hours I didn’t see a single village or town except for mountains and valleys. So this area is totally solitary and every year remains isolated because of the snow and the winter falls. In the Iballe area the state has established a police station but it could not stop the tragic cases between the families involved in old and new blood-feuds in this area. Fortunately now the bloodshed is stopped and people are living and working in peace. The only ones that could reach this scope were the peace conciliation missionaries. The ones that have gone there from Mirdita, Puka and Fushe Arrezand the situation has improved, and the conflicts are somehow extinguished. When one talks about the conciliation issue between the encircled/shut up families, the only successful people during these 10 last years are only the men and women who come from the noble families that undertake and finalize the act of conciliation and the release of the encircled/shut up ones. In this regard I believe that the National Conciliation Committee will reach its scope since its strategy is grounded and has counted on specifically to this society’s respected contingent on the conciliation and the existence of the law.
At the Iballe meeting there were called to participate the representatives of the families and the villages of Malsi e Madhe, Shkoder, Lezhe and Rrafshi i Dukagjinit. It was asked for the start of the national initiative regarding the unconditional release of the women and children encircled/shut up all over the country and that this would be carried out under the supervision of the conciliation missionaries, teachers, husbands and traditional leaders including other society factors. This meeting had another value because it was supported by the clergy/ cleric of the area/district and it was held in the Iballe Cathedral.
The participation of representatives from the districts and the government encouraged and gave me hope that we could be achieving something good even though I was skeptical seeing the poor engagement of the state’s structures. Three deputy ministers confirmed at the meeting that even the Albanian government considers this phenomenon a serious concern. Nevertheless the non-programming and the drafting of the measures in accordance or in line with a common strategy - state-civil society - seemed to me a lack of responsibility shown by the representatives of the state’s instances and of the civil society itself. The Albanian society cannot be oriented towards integration if we don’t know beforehand on how to lay forward a strategy and trustworthy alternatives.
A potential strategy
The National Conciliation Committee has drafted a strategy. This strategy is not unknown to the official and social public opinion. It is at the disposal of all the government officials, the prime minister, head of parliament, and the President of the Republic in fall 2000. On December 26th of the same year it was published in full also by the governing majority newspaper “Zeri i Popullit” under the title “With a strategy - an end to blood-feud”. The public opinion has confirmed its support towards this strategy through the representatives of the First Conciliation Missionaries Congress, on February 26th 2001.
For the recognition and implementation of this strategy, three months after the congress on June 14th 2001 in the city of Puka there was organized an extended meeting with representatives from all the villages in north Albania and some problematic areas from the south, where attended also the political parties, representatives of religions sects, local government, representatives from the public order, education as well as the successor leaders of some noble families from the North. The final statement issued by this assembly was fully supported in this strategy and was signed by all the participants, representatives of the different religious, political parties and state institutions by giving it the form or the shape of a popular referendum.
In accordance with the strategy the statement notes as follows:
- The recognition and respect of the authority of rule of law, to leave the responsibility of the murder on the culpable in order to be prosecuted by the state, unconditional release of the encircled/ shut up families as well as the denunciation and the isolation from the society of the people trafficking women, children and drugs.
These shall be realized through:
1. Coordination of the committee’s work with all the factors of the society and in particular with the state’s institutions, so that the revenge and blood-feud killings and murders be considered as e temporary phenomena and that could be overcome;
2. Upraise of the public opinion against the people trafficking women, children and drugs, as the main cause of the revenges, the recent tragic cases and the expanding of the organized crime;
3. The coordination of the activities with the clergy and different religious organizations for a larger presence of the role of religion in the emancipation of the society;
4. Encouragement of the Albanian Feminist Movement against violence, masculine exploitation and rule, in order to ask for the rights of women, girls and the gender equity in the decision-making process.
At the meeting in Iballe it was noted from all the speakers that this strategy was known to the citizens and also was respected by them but it hasn’t found the necessary support by the politicians, the state and donors that should have shown more interest. The citizens would confirm that the political organizations in order to give a media show or because of other interests do not help them, whereas the strategy of the committee, drafted and established particularly to attract their support towards the state, was supported.
In the field the committee has established working groups of three people, consisting of the director of the school, the representative of the government and a missioner, leaving the leading role to the representative of the government, since the states authority in resolving the concerns and problems of the society is challenged.
Recently it is noticed a greater interest regarding the cooperation of the state’s institutions with the civil society. But this requires for the cooperation of all factors, in particular of the political class with the actors of the civil society. The overall National Conciliation Committee has introduced to the government, chairmanship of the parliament, and the president the lack of institutional cooperation of the state with nongovernmental
Organizations noting that without such cooperation it is not possible to draft long-term strategies for the developing and the integration of the country with the Euro-Atlantic structures. The developing countries that have got influence in the international politics have got hundreds of non-governmental organizations with which they operate and realize their strategies in and outside the country. The Overall National Conciliation Committee has established the necessary background and has also got the support of the community therefore the cooperation is in the interest of the society. Its main potentials come form the common people in villages and cities up to the national intelligence which has also given its support.
At the meeting in Iballe it was noted that in some districts such as Shkoder and Malsi e Madhe there have major problems which has lead to obstacles in the way of conciliations and as a result has lead to tragic loss of many lives. Leaving in encircle/shut up for a long time, for more than 10 years, of some families is considered as a consequence of the noncoordination between the state and different groups of missionaries and a malign political rearward that has disrupted the missionaries work. I believe that state’s intelligence service structures should be more attentive or opened-eared and investigate in this regard. The largest number of encircled/shut up families, women and children is concentrated particularly in these two districts.
Meetings with the families in blood-feuds should continue again, having as leaders the conciliation missionaries, the leaders of the noble and well-known families which are successful. The tendency to eliminate them according to the conciliation practices has harmed the case. The fact that in the Mirdita and Diber district they are respected by the government officials and have successfully reached their scope must be enough to convince each and every one of us. Even the initiative for the unconditional release of the encircled/ shut up women and children is supported mainly by the consorts of the traditional leaders. I have been invited and proposed by the missionaries to join this initiative and I consider it as an honor to work for this purpose up to the last family.
Our determination regarding our strategy in leaving the responsibility and the burden of murder on the culpable in order to be criminally prosecuted by the state as well as the public denunciation and the isolation from the society of the people trafficking women, children and drugs is in full accordance with the positive tradition of the collective responsibility.
The law needs the support of the public opinion. This comes from the good codes of tradition which clearly express the punishment without hesitation of the one who violates the rules, the rights of the other, in particular of women and children.
Our efforts are being concentrated in clarifying the citizens regarding our state’s establishing tradition and of respecting the order in the community. We ask to evoke this tradition of course by knowing and applying the law because in continuity these people have been hit in a malign way with this scope. This strategy includes also the pressure on the state’s institutions, the justice and criminal prosecutorial bodies, in order to protect the society from corruption and further degradation.
In this we will try to strike very powerfully, as we acted on July 14th at the meeting held at the Academy of Science asking in more concrete words the denunciation and the isolation from the society of the trafficking people that were released by the court. The only salvation of lives against the crime of murder and violence is our union against them as well as the implementation of the law and the order amongst us. The state starts at the individual, the work and our standing. \our tradition is an excellent experience of building relations in the community, especially regarding the protection of lives, freedom, and property and of the rights of women and children. They should be recognized and put into practice in the implementation of the law and the constitution.
We have grounded our decision regarding the unconditional release of the women and children enclosed/shut up on all the aspects of judgment, first of all on the tradition and second of all on eh Albanian law and the international conventions. This decision is uncontested and should find the overall support. There have been and there will always be discussions and arguments but I believe the best thing to do is to band together in order reach the scope of this initiative.