Albania: The Committees of the Rebellion Originate from the People Themselves

Interview with Hysni Milloshi, founder of the Communist Party of Albania

Michel Collon

What is going on in Albania? Are the western troops only there to bring in humanitarian aid? Questions the Workers' Party of Belgium asked Hysni Milloshi, founder of the now proscribed Communist Party of Albania.

What is your opinion about the six years that the Democratic Party has been in power?

H. Milloshi. In six years the Berisha government has destroyed my country. In order to eliminate socialism once and for all, it has closed down the factories, big ones as well as small ones. 800,000 workers are now jobless. Machines have been sold to the former Yugoslavia. In my opinion, the destruction of the working class is being done to prepare for fascism.

Also agriculture has been destroyed. Even young trees were uprooted. Imagine in order to root out communism they cut the trees! Schools and public buildings are no longer in use. Our youth is forced to migrate the world over. The country, once the safest of all Europe, has fallen prey to corruption and crime. In the city of Berat alone, a thousand people have been murdered over the past six years.

Do you think that Berisha acted under orders of the West?

H. Milloshi. Absolutely. From the very beginning he was looking for assistance from the United States and Europe. The US ambassador supported him at his election campaign rallies. Also French and Italian and diplomats aided his campaign.

As a result, the Western imperialist countries can now enter and plunder my country at will. Not a single newspaper, Western or Albanian, writes about the fact that our natural resources are being sold to foreign companies. My country has lost its sovereignty. Where is the Albanian navy? In Italian waters under NATO leadership. And in our territorial waters there are American, Italian and French ships that are ruling!

To protect the delivery of humanitarian aid, or so they say...

H. Milloshi. What aid? They don't bring us anything. Their military intervention costs six million dollars a day. If they would donate this amount to Albania, now that would be aid!

Where does the people's uprising come from? From the Communists?

H. Milloshi. The uprising was in the first place an economic struggle of people who had been cheated in the pyramid game. At the same time, it was a political rebellion to demand the dismissal of Berisha. (t started in Tirana, but as the government is strong there, it was able to stop the movement. The anger, however, was generalised, the people attacked the offices of the Democratic Party, as in Vlore, a coastal town in the South.

To be honest about it: at the start the actions were spontaneous. No political party was at the head of the movement. People began to seize weapons. Then the people's committees emerged. At this moment certain parties (among them the communists) are involved in the committees, but it cannot be said that they exerted leadership over them.

What is very important is that these committees have been elected by the people themselves. Contrary to the previous local authorities, that were nominated by Tirana. I am convinced that the committees won't disappear.

Our comrades who went to Albania were impressed by the fact that the workers in Berat were defending their factory against the government troops with arms.

H. Milloshi. Berisha had sent an enormous concentration of troops to Berat. The people resisted, first without weapons, but after a while they emptied the arsenals. The people had to arm themselves in order to defend themselves.

Is Albania under occupation?

H. Milloshi. For centuries already our country has been occupied by foreign powers. The 50 years of socialism under Comrade Enver Hoxha were an exception. But my people have never accepted occupation.

But the bourgeois press is telling us that the foreign troops are very well received by the population?

H. Milloshi. The Italian press said the same when Mussolini took over Italy.

Or they say that the Albanian conflict is between North and South...

H. Milloshi. That is what Berisha wishes. No, all people have the same desire to topple the government.

With their party outlawed, how do the Albanian communists organise themselves?

H. Milloshi. There is a law that forbids all communist information. There is also chaos: because of the many roadblocks, communications between cities are rather problematic. Often the communists cannot act openly. But in places where the masses have seized power, their work is much easier.

What developments do you expect?

H. Milloshi. The situation will change rapidly. The overthrow of Berisha would be a positive development. The revolution is gaining strength. We cannot promise anything yet, because much remains to be done before we will be able to raise the red flag. But I can assure you that the phoenix will rise again from its ashes.

In Belgium people are surprised about what is happening in Albania. We had been told that the Albanians had had enough of socialism.

H. Milloshi. You need to know what really happened. In his funeral oration for Comrade Enver Hoxha, who died in 1985, his successor Ramiz Alia promised to continue with the same policies. But in the actual facts he gradually deviated from socialism.

However, it was the people who took down the huge statue of Enver Hoxha in Tirana. It was in the papers.

H. Milloshi. This was organised by the Democratic Party, which was then in the opposition. But Ramiz Alia knew of it and encouraged them. The night before, this sturdy statue had already been dismantled by Alia's men, so that it would come down easily.

When the people saw what had happened to the statue, many peasants came marching to Tirana from all parts of the country. For seven days and nights they beleaguered the Communist Party headquarters. They demanded that Berisha's party be banned and that the terrorists who demolished cultural monuments be arrested. But Ramiz Alia refused to cooperate with them.

What were you doing at that time?

H. Milloshi. l never foresaw that I would play an important role. I see myself simply as a small intellectual. But when I observed Ramiz Alia not taking up his responsibility, I wrote a long letter in defence of Comrade Enver Hoxha. Excerpts were published in the press. Immediately committees emerged in defence of Enver Hoxha. 750,000 people affiliated with them! (Note Albania has 3 million inhabitants.)

Unfortunately, the communist leaders didn't dare to take the lead of this people's movement. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, they feared a bloodbath.

Translated from Solidaire No. 27, June 25, 1997

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