Albania Ex-Political Prisoners Quit Hunger Strike

Six former political prisoners on Monday ended a month-long hunger strike, which aimed to pressure the government to speed up reparations for their suffering under the Communists.“We are tired because of the psychological terror we were subjected too,” Afrim Biturku, one of the strikers, said, ending the strike. “But we have vowed that the struggle for our cause will not end with this strike,” he added.

The Communist Party ruled Albania with an iron fist for nearly half a century, imprisoning tens of thousands of people under appalling conditions in a network of prisons and concentration camps.

Nearly 20 ex-prisoners went on hunger strike in the Paris Commune neighborhood of Tirana on September 22, trying to force the centre-right government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha to put a 2007 law on reparation into action.

The law granted former political prisoners 2000 lek (€14) for every day they spent in prison during the Communist regime.

The law said that the reparations would be paid out in eight tranches with one installment paid per year. However, in the past five years only one segment has been payed out.

Berisha refused to consider the strikers’ requests, saying the protest was manipulated by the opposition and noting that his government has already paid out some compensation.

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