Albania Former Political Prisoner Sets Himself on Fire

A former political prisoner, 51-year-old Gjergj Ndreca, set himself on fire on Monday in protest over the slow payment of reparations for the victims of the communist regime by the government.Ndreca poured gasoline over his body and set himself on fire in a Tirana neighbourhood where he and others held a hunger strike.

Ndreca was taken to a Tirana hospital and is in stable condition. He was part of a group of several other former polical prisoners that started a hunger strike on September 25, requesting the government to pay them compensation.

In an interview with Balkan Insight last Wednesday, Ndreca lashed out at Prime Minister Sali Berisha for turning a blind eye on the plight of ex-prisoners.

“With this strike everyone will understand that there is no real democracy in Albania,” Ndreca said.

Ndreca has served an eight-year prison term during the communist regime and was released in 1991.

A law passed in 2007 granted the former political prisoners of the communist regime reparations of 2000 lek (€14.3) for every day of prison that they served.

However, the government has divided the payment into eight tranches and in the past five years, only one of those segments has been payed out.

The communist party ruled Albania with an iron fist for nearly half a century.

Albania’s association of former political prisoners believes that 5,577 men and 450 women were executed during the communist rule from 1946 to 1991, while tens of thousands may have been imprisoned or sent to labour camps.

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