I am writing this article, not just because I want it to be known that I support the protesters of Astir, but because I want the international community to wake up and see the reality of the crimes that are being committed by Edi Rama, Erion Veliaj and their band of merry thieves. I want them to disregard the propaganda that has been carefully curated in the English language to drip feed to their embassies and agencies, and I want them to fully understand the horror of what is happening to a community in Tirana.
As you may have heard, the government is set to bulldoze the homes of over 300 families to make way for the widening of one of the cities main arterial roads. The affected area is known as Astir, and its residents have been told to leave, with many being advised they will not receive a penny in compensation. The government is arguing that these properties were built illegally and therefore should be destroyed, but the reality is that whilst yes they were built during a time of civil and political unrest and were without permits etc, the residents have made attempts to legalize them- attempts that were deliberately thwarted by the powers that be.
These people have been told to get out, laws have been broken, the constitution has been violated, international human rights frameworks have been discarded, and all due process that is required under local law has been bulldozed out of the way as violently as this government wishes they could do to the people that inhabit the land. A community that spans over 25 years and includes homes full of tax payers, businesses full of tax compliant owners, millions of euros in personal infrastructural investment, and over 600 tax paying consumers is set to be destroyed with no form of recourse, compensation, or support for those affected.
Of course, the inhabitants have not taken this lying down. They started off peacefully, becoming more and more agitated as their pleas were repeatedly ignored. Tired of being called “cavemen” and “barbarians” their anger simmered away until this week, protests became violent. After repeated clashes with police, a number of protesters and police have been injured and hospitalized, a normal and totally understandable result of what happens when people are backed into a corner with no way out.
But there are a few things that don’t sit right with me about the reports being circulated in the media. Can the government explain to me why, when the authorities knew the protests were violent, did they sent in female-only police officers on the front line? Can they explain how a female officer apparently managed not to get a single injury on the rest of her hand, other than having the tip of her finger blown off by a fuse igniter? Can they explain why officers think it is OK to beat and use excessive force on protesters of both sexes, and yet act surprise when they receive retaliation?
This government is deliberately using unprotected, unarmed, inexperienced, and unorganized female police offers with the intent that they will be injured, so that they can use the resulting injuries as propaganda. Furthermore, they are deliberately inciting violence through words, actions, and the media. This is all on top of the fact that they are breaking the law in the first place. It is their hope that by painting these victims as violent, law-breaking, barbarians, that people will forget that the real law-breaking, violent barbarians are the ones calling the shots. This staggering level of hypocrisy from these politicians in their ivory towers, makes my blood boil- the act of pedaling accusations of illegal behavior and violence,
But it is the staggering hypocrisy of politicians in their ivory towers, pedaling accusations of illegal behavior and violence, whilst breaking the law and perpetrating violence themselves that blows my mind.
I remember a time of civil unrest in the UK a number of years ago. In my city of Bristol, residents took to the streets to peacefully protest against gentrification, the widening gap between rich and poor, the illegal and unfair treatment of squatters, and the introduction of a new chain supermarket to the countries last fully independent high street. Thousands took to the streets and after hours of peaceful protesting, normal police were replaced with mounted police and riot police that started to assault and attack protesters. People were kettled into a small area of the town and I witnessed women being beaten by baton wielding officers without provocation in an attempt to discredit the protesters plight by saying “well they turned violent”. The result was a week long period of unrest blighted by further riots, looting, and violence, brought on by the provocation and false flag implantation of aggravating agents, designed to deliberately exacerbate the situation.
History is full of similar events- situations where governments have either admitted to or been found to have deliberately created violent or volatile situations to further their cause by discrediting their opposition. This tactic is employed regularly be it political dirty games, or situations where human rights are infringed to the point where the desperation of the afflicted souls becomes blinding- a bit like what is happening to the victims of Astir.
I consider myself a pacifist and I am not one to condone violence, but if you came knocking on the door of my house, calling me names, refusing to listen to me and telling me that you were going to raze my house to the ground, I can guarantee you that I would be pushed to the limits of my pacifism. If you became physically and verbally aggressive with me, I would retaliate in kind. I make no apologies for this and not only does my heart break for the people affected, but I fully and unequivocally support any action that they have, do, or may take to protect themselves, their family, and their way of life.