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In the 12th Inter Parliamentary Meeting, held on 24-25 November 2005, in Tirana, the European Parliament members took up for consideration the phenomenon of blood feud in Albania. The European Parliament members listened to the speech of Mr. Gjin Marku, Chairman of Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation about the reasons and the spread of this phenomenon in Albania. After discussions, it was decided that, in the item 14 of the resolution of this meeting, to appeal to the Albanian State to improve the laws and the penal code concerning to this tragic phenomenon. The Chairman of the European Delegation Ms. Doris Pack said that she would present the worry for this case to the high institutions of EU and will request the protection of the families that emigrate because of blood feud in the countries of EU.

Speech of Mr. Gjin Marku in the Inter Parliamentary Meeting

Honorable Mrs. Doris Pack,
Honorable participants,

On behalf of the Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation and all reconciliation associations, I would like to express our gratitude for your concern and for including in today’s agenda the phenomenon of blood feud.

The tragic phenomenon of blood feud has double and deep routs: the inherited mentality and culture as well as the social crisis and negative events of the transition years. During these years, due to a lack of state institutions as well as lack of the traditional hierarchies, blood feuds and vengeances have a tragic, barbarous prevalence and pose dangerous conditions for a big number of families, in particular for the life of women and children.

The restore of Kanun, endeavoring to establish order in the community, and the emerging of customary law of blood vengeance, happened as a reaction of the threatened citizens, unprotected by a state incapable of exercising its powers.
When the Albanians did dot have their own state, Kanun was their constitution. Blood vengeance, as an institution of this Kanun, sanctioned the capital punishment for the murderer or the violator of the family and property.
These kinds of organizations were justified at that time, because the Albanian population, historically without any support, in centuries has faced the conquest and suppression of foreign rulers. This continuous repression obliged the Albanians to seek for a survival tool. Aiming to protect life, family, property and the existence of the nation, the Albanians established and inherited for many centuries the Kanun, which was better respected and dearer than the Bible or Kuran to them.

In 1912, when the independence was proclaimed and Albanian state was founded the efforts for the establishment of the legal state started.But the disbelief toward the state and the tendency of self-protection leads the consciousness of Albanians also during the 20th century. In particular this tendency was revealed after 1913, when the super powers divided the territory of Albania, and it continued until 1928, when the Albanian kingdom was established. The Kingdom, during 1928 – 1939 gave an excellent example for establishing the new constitutional system and for preventing the blood vengeance. Each constitutional law was compiled in consultation with the population of the counties and their representatives. As a result of this, the population felt ownership of the constitution and respected it humbly. In 1939, blood vengeance was towards its complete extinction due to the solidarity of citizens with the law and due to the great impact of the well functioning of justice. Albania became a modern democratic country.
Following the Second World War and with the establishment of the communist regime, the law was exercised arbitrarily; the execution of murderers was undertaken to be performed by the state, and in this way it did not allow the application of blood vengeance. In addition to the extreme measures for exercising control on individuals, the state banned by law the religion, abolished religious institutions and many other values of the customary inheritance, causing an adverse negative effect on the citizens’ convictions. To elevate this effects, the mono-party state’s representatives, approached the population for their cooperation, by applying collective decision-making for establishing order within the community. The state established the communication bridge with all the levels of society for the compilation of Law and consolidated the regime with the support of citizens.

Unfortunately, this cooperation and this communication bridge of the political class with the population for the compilation of the Law were not established at all during the 15 years of political pluralism. As a result of the irresponsibility and megalomania of the political class, the very necessary opinions and suggestions coming from the community were disregarded. The only institutions that made some lukewarm attempts to ensure this cooperation are the President of the Republic, State Police and Albanian Ombudsman, but the cooperation should start with the compilation and establishment of the Law.

A typical example of this lack of cooperation, with very grave consequences is Law 7501 regulating land issues, which was compiled and approved with the consensus of the two biggest political parties. In the major part of the Albanian territory this law was neither accepted nor implemented. In the areas where this law is implemented it has created conflicts, causing murdering amongst families with close blood ties. Only in Bushati commune, and some other villages of sub-Shkodra area, 1600 families are already part of these conflicts. At national level, this law has caused serious problems and, at any moment, over 15 000 families, can be potentially involved in bloodshed. 4600 other families are in conflict as a consequence of women trafficking. This lack of responsibility of the political class and state institutions is present in every aspect of social life, in this way it make space for the chaotic action and disorganization of society, spread of crime and self-justice.

By accomplishing self-justice 5000 Albanians were killed unjustly. From 1991 till 1998, 2300 families entered in isolation because of blood feud. The murders and hatred between individuals or groups within the society were increased especially in the years 1996-1997 because of the tough political war and the fall of the pyramidal firms. Only in year 1997 1500 persons were murdered. In year 2002, 1270 men had escaped from the country to hide the murderer, in this way letting for several years the burden of suffers and efforts for survival on the women and children. Fortunately, today most of them are united with their families, after being provided asylum in the western countries. Due to the admirable work of the reconciliation missionaries actually only 720 families, with 260 children, from which 93 children seriously threatened for their life, are isolated. The strategy of the Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation for the orientation of the tradition in support of rule of law, against the negative phenomena of the society has found support in people, because Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation confronts every issue with the concrete terrain, consults them with the people, and ask decision-making in community for their resolution. Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation has committed its triple working groups in every village, formed by the director of the school, alderman and a representative of the community, who are led by the administrative boards of the districts, for the implementation of this strategy. This realized the interaction of the missionaries’ activity with the representatives of state, police and intellectuals, in this way giving the leading role and authority to the Law.

The Albanian population wishes for the state and law, but today it is suffering under the stress of extreme poverty, lack of most elementary services, hunger and security. Most of the Albanians have lost their hopes for the future. Unemployment reaches the highest figures in Eastern Europe. Unable to find a way out, most of the young people have turned to crime; thousands of girls are forced to prostitute in the streets of Europe. The trafficked women and girls are under complete control of traffickers that have committed more than one crime. In every three ours these traffickers earn 2.1 billion dollars. Because of women trafficking 4600 families are in serious conflicts. This phenomenon has often brought tragic murders, up to blowing up the family of the trafficker. 40% of the murders for revenge and blood feud are consequence of this activity. The missionaries of reconciliation were alone in the efforts for the stoppage of these murders. Although, without support, they have managed to keep under control more than 80% of the conflicts. An important part of their work has been the action in good faith for the return of the trafficked girls and the closure of the conflict without making it public, in this way protecting the dignity of the girl and avoiding blood shed.

Unfortunately the strategies of government and the projects of international donors are compiled and planned according to their methods and ways, without knowing the terrain, mentality and psychology of the Albanian people. More than 90% of these projects were not applied in the terrain and are not known by the groups in need. This has happened and continues to happen mainly with the strategies and projects of the war against the trafficking of human beings, blood feud and corruption.

For verifying and keeping under control the families involved in enmities during the electoral campaign, from May 20th till July 8th 2005, the Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation organized a 45-days voluntary expedition, in all the villages and the cities of Albania. It was led by 160 activists, chiefs of groups, and involved 2680 missionaries in all the territory of Albania. Unfortunately, the expedition consisted that the families involved in conflicts of blood feud or human trafficking are not aware of the projects of the government or donors for their rehabilitation.

The expedition consisted that the readiness and professional cooperation of the State’s Police in the resolution on good terms of many conflictive situations, has been very useful.
The Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation has continuously appreciated the attempts and sacrifices of Albanian State Police forces in their fight against crime of all kinds. Amongst these forces, there are 400 officers killed whilst performing their duty. We have developed a good cooperation with the district police commissariats and the police management at central level. Our cooperation includes areas of violence and murders prevention as well as raising public awareness for observing the law. State Police structures have demonstrated a higher level of accountability compared to the other institutions in the fight against crime, but police forces are not supported as necessary by the attorney’s office and courts.
The Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation has publicly demonstrated the flagrant cases when the police in cooperation with reconciliation missionaries, to avoid the blood shed between the families, has arrested the author of the crime, but he is liberated by the Attorney’s Office or Court. The liberation of criminals or the easing of their punishment has brought the reaction of the victim’s party by causing the execution for blood feud of the criminal or members of his family.
The people have considered as unjust the law that sentences the murderer for blood feud from 25 years up to life imprisonment, while the criminal or the previous murderer is free or received a ridiculous punishment. This handicap has several times caused chain murders between families or tribes.

This moment of irresponsibility has brought the isolation for several years of families by depriving the freedom of hundreds of innocents. In these cases even the legal intervention of the state or police organs becomes very difficult, because the relatives of the victim do not declare that they will commit blood feud but they just say that they do not forgive the murderer. In these circumstances the Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation has suggested the temporary moving away from their residence of the families of the isolated persons. After the Second Congress of Reconciliation Missionaries, held on September 17th 2004, the Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation, with the help of International Community, has successfully realized the provision of asylum for many families threatened by blood feud. The countries that have provided asylum are mainly the countries of the Western Europe as well as Canada and United States of America. Unfortunately, Albanian government has signed agreements for the return of the Albanian emigrants from the Western Countries that do not have sojourn permit. Considering the situation of extreme poverty and conflicts that threaten the life of the Albanian citizens and families, these agreements are inhuman and in opposition with the International Charters of Human Rights. The Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation appeals to the new Parliament and Government for making attempts for revising these agreements, in cooperation with the representatives of International Community and governments of countries where they emigrated.

Although the new government has shown good will and is attempting to keep the promise made to the people and to cooperate in a constructive way with the civil society, much time and work will be needed to establish the trust of people toward the state.
State institutions have lost their authority to the population. The compilation of laws by parliamentary groups has served more to the political class for establishing personal interests and power before the society. It is very difficult for each Albanian citizen to think that he/she can contribute or become part of the problem solution process with his vote.
For preserving the domination, this political class has continuously generated and instilled social conflicts, psychology of blood vengeance, hatred and historic separation, bringing the economy of Albania at the level of the poorest countries in the world.
Unfortunately, the international community has not analyzed objectively the reasons of the situation in Albania and the acts of the political class. Albanian politicians present the conditions posed by the International Community as duties for them, as a legal formality and not as an issue of the whole Albanian society.
Each Albanian citizen wants to be part of the work and responsibilities for building the United Europe, and for this reason it is required a new perspective of the issue of integration of Albania in Europe.

We retain that by identifying openly and criticizing strongly our inadequacies, we will not experience the hesitation of European institutions for the Association Stabilization Agreement with Albania; on the contrary we will increase the responsibility of Europe towards this agreement. The Albanian population is amongst the most ancient populations of Europe. This agreement should be considered neither as sympathy nor as a pressure. We are part of Europe. Europe owes to Albanians a big debt. The European Union, where ex- super powers adhere and play the main role, should give a bigger contribution than what is given so far, for pulling our country out of this situation. This contribution is necessary and morally needed to be provided gratis, in particular for the construction of the power production system, road infrastructure, education and health system, and for the strengthening of local business capacities.

This support would have a very positive effect also on the Albanian citizens, who still do not have the complete conviction about the benevolence of Europe. Only in this way we will have a rapid economical development, the elimination of poverty, control over the organized crime and the elimination of the mentality of blood feud.
In the war against the phenomenon of blood feud we have paid attention also to the eradication of the patriarchal mentality in society. The patriarchal mentality, in the period 2002-2005, in Albania, caused the violation in a tragic way of 126 families, by murdering not only the wife, but also the children.
Poverty and organized crime have forced over 30 000 women and girls to work as prostitutes in different western European countries. This has brought the tough reaction of the husbands, brothers, fathers or male cousins by causing victims even within the family. The male parents and young fellows of the rural areas, in the conditions of extreme misery, are keen on alcohol. This situation has been another predisposition for the increase of acts of violence, instant quarrels and murders, violation of women that later bring blood feud. This meeting has a special importance, if considered the participation, but we wish that it had the same importance in the aspect of the decisions and concrete commitment of each of us in giving our maximum for changing the situation in Albania.

The Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation wants that through this meeting:
-To present to the European Parliament, European Union, Council of Europe, and OSCE the need for a more complete support toward the democracy and the progress of reforms in Albania as well as to take under protection all the families that emigrate from Albania because of blood feud, considering that the Albanian state and society are not temporarily able to find the needed means against this phenomenon.
-To invite the member countries of EU to activate all possible potentials, for offering more projects for the population of the rural areas in Albania.
-To invite the Albanian Parliament to contribute further on the improvement of the laws in the Fight Against Blood feud.
-To invite the Albanian Government and the United Nations to totally put under control the gathering and registration of weapons.
-To invite the Albanian prosecution, investigation and law executing organs for increasing the level of cooperation with the community and civil society for discovering, preventing and punishing the operators of organized crime.
-To invite the Justice System, to give justice and fight the compromised elements in the courts.
-To invite the Albanian Government to take the respective measures and decisions so that all the institutions of the Albanian state should have the figures of the families involved in property conflicts and to undertake special actions for avoiding the self-judgment.
-To invite the clergy for playing a greater role in emancipating the Albanian society.
-To invite the Albanian Government for further investments on the establishment of the educative centers for the orphan and isolated children, by using the once houses of culture and other public buildings that are not being restored for being privatized.
-To invite the Ministry of Education and Sciences, to increase at a higher level the educative work in the schools, so that the children gain more complete knowledge about love, work, life, family, and the rights and obligations in a contemporaneous society.
-To invite the media to control the editions and emissions that might incite the psychology of murders for blood feud.

Thank you very much.