COMMITTEE OF NATIONWIDE RECONCILIATION
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Resolution of The Extraordinary National Conference of Reconciliation Missionaries and Associations.
ABOUT THE TRADITION IN SUPPORT OF THE RULE OF LAW
Tirana October 8th, 2010
The Extraordinary National Conference of Reconciliation Missionaries and Associations “About the Tradition in Support of the Rule of Law” was held in Tirana on October 8th, 2010, and was organized by the Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation in association with the Academy of Science of the Republic of Albania. The Conference took place on the eve of October the 10th-The European Day against the Death Penalty. Representatives of volunteer reconciliation associations and missionaries of all the country’s districts attended the Conference together with representatives of the Academy of Science, of the Albanian government, of the media and international organizations and diplomatic representatives accredited in Tirana.
The Conference supported:
1- The message carried by the European Day against the Death penalty as a very significant event for the Albanian society.
The Conference appreciates;
1- Positive Albanian traditions as valuable tools in support of the rule of law, in showing respect for law and order in the community, and integration in the European Union with constituent qualities. It appreciates precious Albanian virtues such as the promise (besa), hospitality, the humanitarian and the volunteer spirit, the communal life, the religious tolerance and the fine interethnic relations.
2-The cooperation between the Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation and the Academy of Science and the need to have this cooperation leading to more studies about the reliability of state institutions in view of public opinion, and about the more effective ways to increasing confidence in the rule of law.
3- The contribution of Prof. Philip Alston, the UN-Rapporteur, in representing the blood feud phenomenon at the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly.
4- The support of the OSCE, of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and of the European Commission toward the Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation in its efforts of promoting a culture of law and the prevention of revenge and blood feud related killings as well as the reconciliation of families involved in blood feuds.
5- The contribution of the EU governments, of the United Kingdom, of Canada and United States of America on the protection and assitance they offer to families and individuals who immigrate due to revenge and blood feud related issues.
6- The cooperation between immigration offices of Western countries and the Committee of Natonwide Reconciliation about the acknowledgment of the general situation and specific blood feud cases in Albania.
7- The good work and the valuable experience gained by peace missionaries in their volunteer expeditions and present engagement in the upcoming annual expedition of 2010 until December 30, 2011 comencing on the eve of Christmas celebrations.
With great concern the Conference confirmed that:
• The Albanian government and the Parliament of Albania have not contributed to the prevention of revenge, honor and blood feud killings and to the protection of families involved in blood feuds; they have neither been able to handle this phenomenon nor cooperate with principal factors of the civil society in their efforts of propagation of the culture of law and the strengthening of the rule of justice.
• The Coordinating Council, in its fight against the blood feud phenomenon, has not been supported by the government with specific legislations and as such has not been able to function. Governmental projects, like the one led by the Ministry of Education called “The Second Chance” of the National Center for self-confined children in Poliçan, or the Special Police Unit in Shkoder and so on, have all failed because they have been initiated with a lack of knowledge of the reality and in a corruptive manner with the goal of profiting from donor’s funds. The Poliçan project had 5 million Euros allocated to the establishment of the center for self-confined children; of that amount only 30.000 Euros went toward the establishment of this center and the rest was misappropriated by government officials who were the ones who came up with the idea of this project and approved it as well.
• By the end of 2009 and during the year 2010 the revenge, the blood feud and honor killings, suicides, violence in the family, and the human trafficking have been on the increase. Revenge killings and blood feud related murders have, very often, degenerated into terrorizing acts not only against the targeted individuals but also against their relatives, women and children. The blood feuds have spread across the entire territory of Albania and in the South it is fiercely applied in the form of revenge. The situation is covered up through the government’s demagogy. The Albanian society, exhausted of crime and poverty, has lost the hope of a solution to this problem.
• The categorization of blood feud killings, of honor and revenge murders, simply, as “ordinary crimes “ hasn’t assisted in the prevention of these kinds of murders but has benefited criminals who, when brought before the law, have been able to avoid stiff penalties foreseen by the Penal Code in cases dealing with blood feud and revenge killings. This categorization superficially covers the existence of the Kanun-inspired mentality that is at the root of such killings. Concealing the real intentions of these kinds of killings does not assist in solving this problem but rather inhibits the development of new strategies and the engagement of other factors in the precise examination and the finding of effective solution in this regard.
• The crime of revenge killings is spreading among the youth as well. Data of the present situation in the country and World Health Organization observations show that killings and stabbings amongst Albanian youth and adolescents rank highest in Europe and in the world. School violence is prevalent not only among adolescents but between teachers as well. School staff is unable to handle conflict situations of this nature and are, understandably stressed. Pressures and threats from adolescents have created a situation of fear and anxiety not only for the teachers but parents as well.
• The number of land and property disputes is continually on the increase due to constant changes in the governmental laws and decisions that are made to fit electoral interests and that have deepened the conflict situation in the society. More than 50% of families in the village are involved in feuds over conflicts involving land and have, completely, ceased relationships with the feuding families; families do not communicate with one another, do not participate, contrary to the tradition, in funeral ceremonies, weddings, visitations, religious celebrations and so on. These actions are warning signs that blood is going to be spilled once the occasion arises and the parties encounter each other.
• Because of extreme poverty, prostitution and women’s trafficking has been on the increase and brought on feuds in more than 5000 Albanian families. This criminal activity with tragic implications is spreading in the North where, due to the existence of patriarchal mentality, consequences for women are tragic. The majority of girls become victims of trafficking after a “marriage” is performed and that is how a blood feud between the bride’s and “groom’s” and families begins. To save family’s honor the public does not know of such feuds otherwise the outcome would be dire. In some of these kinds of blood feuds, the house of the “groom”/ pimp has been blown up, resulting in the death of his family members. The peace missionaries have reconciled 700 families involved in blood feuds related to women’s trafficking and thus were able to bring back the woman and her fiancé (“the pimp”) to their families without public knowledge of the abuse so that the bride’s honor and the honor of her family was protected. In the cases when the fiancé and the pimp were the same he was forced to come back and continue living with the bride, accepting her as his wife, otherwise he and his family would continue to be in a blood feud with the bride’s clan as their engagement was public and her trafficking for prostitution is one of the most serious offences against the honor of the bride and her family. The reconciliation is conducted in private so that the families and the couple do not become subjected to malicious gossip.
• Although the different donors have built up centers to protect victims of trafficking, trafficked women rarely frequent such places even when they are threatened, as they fear the blood feud to a greater extent. Information from the Ministry of Labor and Social Support claims that the annual budget for every center is supplied to cover the expenses of 100 victims but only one or two women, prostitution victims who are abandoned due to their physical appearance, are sheltered; the rest of the budget, planned for another 90-98 victims, is misused.
• The poverty and the loss of hope for the future has brought a new phenomenon to the lives of Albanians, suicide, something that did not exist in the past, as the tradition would condemn such practice by showing no respect for the deceased. The number of suicides has reached alarming levels, they are out of control; many crimes are concealed and go unresolved and a good portion of them happen within the family circle. People residing in villages have knowledge of numerous facts of this nature but are afraid to come forward, they fear crime, they feel vulnerable and even in greater danger if they report because there is leaking of information collected by the police.
• Community members in metropolitan and rural areas have information about crimes but do not report, as they fear retaliation. The most heartbreaking aspect of this criminal activity is the abduction of people forced to give money or pay unpaid debts, especially the abduction of children who are sexually exploited or used for organ trafficking. Many of these victims are violated and killed. Of all the cases of missing persons during the year 2010, only the one of the 7-year-old Bleona Mataj of Kukes had the police engagement and cooperation of the community after the persistence of the media, but despite all the efforts she is still missing. In the majority of cases, police avoids recording complaints and reports, as they fear for their safety and the safety of the reporting party.
• The Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation has always assisted the state police and by the same token the terrain police have supported the reconciliation process as they are aware of the reality but the police are lacking the necessary logistics and do not have the backing of the justice system. Police members and state administration employees have become victims of revenge and blood feud killings. In order to avoid the danger of getting killed, policemen and government employees have been forced to live, for years, in self-confinement or leave Albania together with their relatives, as they have not been able to obtain state protection.
• The Albanian government does not have a national strategy to deal with the blood feuds even though such strategy was drafted by the Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation and has been presented to all levels of government. The Conference expressed concern about the fact that the signing of the Memorandum of cooperation between the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation that was prepared to take place at the end of this event, was not realized despite the direct involvement of the Minister of Internal Affairs. The Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Avenir Peka promised the participants that this Memorandum would be signed, but the Conference remains skeptical until such action will be undertaken and the respective executive order for the police and public administration in the execution of the Memorandum points will be issued. The Conference urged that the Memorandum, which is on the Minister’s desk’ and awaits his signature be made known to international organizations and to the Diplomatic representatives. Furthermore the conference’s organizers were notified that while this event was taking place, a pastor in the city of Shkoder was killed in a blood feud after he ventured out of self confinement to preach God’s word; this incident caused not only indignation but great concern among the participants, and especially for its timing.
The Conference recommended the application of tradition in support of the rule of law.
a- The conference stressed that the continuation of Kanun’s influence in the lives of Albanians is connected to their moral qualities and code of honor. Albanians have cultivated this code of honor even in the darkest days of their history; it has been on display especially toward foreigners, of those who happen to be on Albanian soil, by chance, need or by carrying different social, political, religious, and diplomatic or trade duties. It was the foreigners who, while describing the most distinguishable qualities of Albanians, wrote about the honor, the Besa (the promise), the hospitality, and the generosity. All the other moral norms governing the everyday lives of Albanians are closely related to these codes. Besa (the promise) as a code of honor and virtue has played a major role not only to maintain compliance with the norms of individual behavior but also in the protection of social and political life of the country by imposing political coexistence, religious harmony and good interethnic relationship within the nation. The Kanun has roots, which go deeper than the Roman law, and it requires that the society be governed only by the rule of law. The Albanian Kanun opposed slavery and people’s exploitation, did not support the crusades, the inquisition, did not encourage contempt for individuals racial and social standing, did not support totalitarian, fascism, nazism and communist ideas. Many centuries ago, before the birth of the present European civilization, the Albanian Kanun separated state and religion, accepted the right of divorce and abortion and prohibited persecution due to race and gender. The Kanun’s distinct values such as the family, the property, the guest, the promise, the hospitality, the respect for the foreigner, the protection of every religious belief, ethnic and race inside and out of the Albanian territory, were passed on from generation to generation. There is abundance in the amount of transmitted Kanun principles that support the rule of law and challenge a number of negative trends of our day such as the crime against one’s life, family violence, trafficking, prostitution, smuggling, corruption, stealing of public property, violence against women and children, mistreatment of the unprotected and so on. The Kanun law does not agree to the stealing of someone’s property, does not allow exploitation of the poor, does not permit prostitution and the breaking up of family unit, does not allow corruption, mafia and injustice. The Kanun demands equality before the law and a precise application of the law at any given time as a necessity of life, it requires everyone’s submission to the rules in the community starting with the highest in authority to the lowest one, it looks to provide justice for the innocent and punishment for crime. Above all, Kanun messages strictly condemn dishonesty toward people and do not approve of a mafia running state matters. That is why, to the Albanian people, the Kanun is more sacred than the Bible or the Kuran.
b- The Albanian politicians who are in power and been given the responsibility to govern the country have not been able to distinguish the essence of these codes and qualities of the people to whom they belong; Europeans accept them as codes of specific qualities of the Albanians. This is the result of the disconnection between the political leadership and interests of the society they live in. The strong ties between them and governmental profit have lowered their moral standards and ruined citizen’s lives, they have caused the Albanian society to slide toward degeneration, the Kanun included, which in the last 20 years of post communist transition has been applied in its deformed condition causing tragic consequences.
c- The goal of The Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation is to cultivate humane standards and preserve fine customs so that citizens and their families can live happily in their community and in their brotherhood knowing that the rule of law is the norm and have no fear that their families, their economy would be adversely affected by anyone. The Committee aims to inculcate the culture of reconciliation contrary to hatred and revenge; to promote dialogue between opposing parties as a sign of mutual tolerance in search of truth and justice that are the essential elements of a genuine reconciliation. The Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation requires of every Albanian and every human to take the responsibility of making this place a better world. The magazine “Law and Justice” published by the CNR with the goal of spreading the culture of law in all levels of the society has been highly valued by common readers and intellectuals alike.
The three-persons group work of this Committee, made up in each village of the missionary, the governmental representative and the school principal, has functioned on a voluntarily basis; when they have applied tradition in support of law things have worked out and cases of blood feuds have been resolved, but their needed activity has been neglected because of the numerous law changes that are made to fit electoral interests of political parties and that have brought chaos. The Albanian state, the international community and the European Union have an interest in the work of the Committee but adequate support hasn’t been forthcoming. The Albanian state does not pay attention to concerns periodically raised by the Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation with national institutions.
The Conference affirmed the importance of the abolishment of death penalty.
- The special conference of missionaries and reconciliation associations was held on the eve of October 10, The European Day against Death Penalty and on the verge of the decision about the free movement of Albanians in the western countries. The Conference stressed that Albania should not overlook the European Day against Death Penalty. The death penalty, considered by Amnesty International as the ultimate denial of human rights, as a cruel inhuman and degrading act performed in the name of justice, abuses the right to life proclaimed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and continues to be a reality, threatening and fearsome for Albanian citizens and in our part of the world is appearing in the form of revenge, honor and blood feud killings.
- A number of Albanian politicians and intellectuals, who lack insight, have, publicly, expressed their opinion that the restoration of the death penalty in Albania would prevent crimes against life, property and the family. Furthermore, public surveys show that 90% of Albanians favor the death penalty as people are faced with numerous crimes such as killings, violations of honor, women’s trafficking, abuse of family and property and so on. But, the world’s experience has shown otherwise, that even in countries where death penalty is applied, the number of murders and crimes is higher than in countries that have accepted the abolishment of this punishment. At present the tendency in the world is for the death penalty to be completely eradicated from human society. Faced with these adverse opinions, which entrench the mentality of revenge and vendetta, the Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation and reconciliation missionaries have, repeatedly, stressed that the abolition of death penalty is one of the civilized European innovations to be supported by every Albanian citizen
- The death penalty, demanded by the majority of the Albanian population and various politicians and intellectuals, does not guarantee or establish justice and does not stop the killings. The Albanian people desire, work and aspire to get integrated into Europe and because of this they should embrace all policies and implement all European laws. The abolishment of the death penalty requires strengthening of the legal state and of governmental bodies so that confidence in law and state can be achieved; it is needed to ensure political stability and public security, to guarantee people’s lives and their properties. It is the duty of state institutions, of the Albanian society, of the media, of universities, public and private, to do more in terms of processing, awareness and emancipation of public opinion about the importance of the abolishment of death penalty.
The Conference reaffirmed:
1- The reconciliation process and the CNR’s strategy on the application of tradition in support of the rule of law have been continuously neglected. In the political terrain, in segments of state structures and within foreign agencies operating in Albania there are active elements that work against peace and stability in our territory. The activity of these elements against the reconciliation mission emerged at the transition time, particularly during the events of 1997, when missionaries were able to convince northern families to abstain from sending their young men to fight against civilians protesting in the southern Albania. It was these events that clearly showed the consequences of the close collaboration between the mafia and criminal elements that resulted in the killing of three thousand people and destruction of public institutions. At that time a rift occurred within the Nationwide Reconciliation Mission in Shkoder and an attempt was made on the life of the chair of this mission, Mr. Ndrek Pjetri, who was forced to resign and finally leave Albania. In June of 2000 the national conference of reconciliation missionaries held in Lezhe was disrupted; the president of the Republic, Mr. Rexhep Mejdani was present. A few years later, Emin Spahija, secretary of this mission, was killed in Shkoder and the author of this crime hasn’t been arrested yet.
2- The international community has allocated special funds to eliminate the blood feud phenomenon but these funds have been distributed without the necessary vigilance to “associations” created by middleman who create connections with interested parties in ministries, police, and courts for illegal benefits and who do not have the expertise and organizational skills needed to contribute to the reconciliation process; these agents use “associations” to cover up their illegal activity. Of 83 such cases in Shkoder and Tirana, the state has been able to arrest only a small number of people connected to the activity of these fraudulent “associations” led by I. Ali who started operation as an Association-Institute-Reconciliation and later registered as a business consulting firm deceiving businessmen and donors alike by displaying photos and video recordings of staged “reconciliation” activities and “self-confined” families, or photos of himself and well known personalities featured on his website; this is the practice of many other mafia elements in the civil society who have damaged the reconciliation image. In order to avoid the abuse of funds by the many “agents” operating in the name of reconciliation, the Albanian government was forced to instruct local and international institutions to contact the CNR in regard to information about the situation of blood feuds, of families involved in blood feuds, of the reconciliation process as every case is archived and followed by this committee on national level.
The Conference stressed that in accordance with the decisions made by various Congresses of reconciliation associations and missionaries, the CNR will carry the protection of the right to seek asylum for families who leave the country due to blood feuds and revenge. All families, who are forced to leave Albania due to blood feuds, should submit their request for a reconciliation process to the central office of the CNR, which will give priority to dealing with these cases. The asylum commissions of western countries should ask families or individuals, who file blood feud related refugee claims, to seek the assistance of the CNR to deal with their case as the Committee has more professional structures, which are able to follow up the entire reconciliation process.
The Conference expressed concern about the fact that in all annually expeditions organized by reconciliation missionaries during Christmas and Easter celebrations, none of the families involved in conflicts, or who are self-confined, are aware of the projects compiled on their behalf and feel deceived by many individuals who contact or take pictures of themselves pretending to be representatives of institutions or associations and offering promises that result in nothing. The same thing is happening with projects aimed at combating corruption and organized crime, human trafficking and violence against women and children. But the mafia, which has captured the state, the political parties and public finances, has taken hold of civil society’s projects.
The Conference is asking:
1 - The European Community, who carries the responsibility of protecting the values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, and the future of the peoples in the United Europe, to examine carefully the political and social situation in Albania. The Albanian state institutions and the international community have been notified by the CNR in regards to this situation and many documents have been published in its web site for years; www.pajtimi.com such as:
* Memorandum: About the change of the social and political situation and breaking the monopoly. June 21, 2004. / Network for Democracy and the rule of law /
* Report to the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe. November 25th, 2005
* Memo addressed to the International Community April 14 2007. / Flagrant violations of human rights /
* Request to crimes tribunal in The Hague and the European Court of Human Rights. April 30, 2008. / Flagrant violations of human rights /
* Resolution: National Conference - On Poverty as a source of domestic violence, homicides, suicides, and trafficking in human beings "- 25 November 2008. /Flagrant Violations of Human Rights.
* Resolution: Third Congress of Reconciliation Missionaries. March 30, 2009.
* Report of 100-day expedition of Reconciliation Missionaries, June 30, 2009.
* Report about the CNR meeting with community representatives and civil society. For the culture of law and rule of law against crimes against life: February 22, 2010. / "Last Report" /
* Letter sent to UN Rapporteur, Professor Philp Alston. / Blood feud in the Security Council / April 16, 2010
2. The Conference urges the Albanian Parliament to reform the laws of the Penal Code dealing with crimes against person’s life, against family and property; to prevent revenge, honor and blood feud related killings. Authors of premeditated murders should be punished with 25 years to life imprisonment with no right of parole or early release due to amnesty. Mitigating circumstances for the murder could be only subjected to the conditions of accident or self -defense.
3-The Conference urges the Albanian government to equip the organizations charged with fighting crime, with the necessary logistics and appoint professional, devoted and individuals who work with integrity as their leaders.
4-The Conference urges the Albanian government to protect the families that are involved in blood feuds and revenge conflicts, especially women and self-confined children.
5- The Conference urges the Albanian Parliament to review Law 7501 “on the Land” as a controverrsial law that has produced countless victims and feeds the psychology of revenge.
6- The Conference urges the High Council of Justice to bring an end to the practice of submission of “Reconciliation Certificates” to the Courts; certificates of this kind are issued by fraudulent “associations” for the purpose of reducing killers’ convictions and this practice has caused tragic incidents because of killers’ early release and short sentencing. The CNR has made several requests to the courts not to allow such practice with serious implications and has informed the Albanian government that such practice undermines justice and the rule of law.
7- The Conference is asking members of the EU to support the Albanian people in this difficult situation, in their efforts to establish a democracy and rule of law and to encourage all potential sponsors to provide more assistance for Albania in general and its rural areas in particular.
8- The Conference requested this Resolution becomes public after consultations with associations, representatives and missionaries, who participated in this conference, no later than November 8th, 2010 and be sent to national and international institutions.
The Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation, Tirana October 8th, 2010
The Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation, Tirana October 8th, 2010
Photo from Conference
View of working of the conference october, 8 2010
Tribune of the Conference: From the left on the right: 1- Prof. Emin Riza, representative of the Science Academy 2- Ms. Antonia Young, Expert of Balkan, 3- MR. Gjin Marku chairman of Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation. 4- Mr. Avenir Peka, Vice Minister of Interior Ministry 5- Ms. Migena Vorpsi, representative of the women of the Noble Families of Tirana, 6- Prof. Mark Tirta, representative of the Science Academy .
Secretary of the Conference
Ms. Antonia Young speaking at the conference.
Prof Emin Riza Representative of Sience Akademi of Albania speaking at the Conference
Prof Mark Tirta, reperesentative of Sience Academy speaking in the Conference
Speech of Mr. Gjin Marku: Chairman of Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation
The giving of the Award of Virtue to the Distinguished Reconciliation Missionaries.
Representatives of reconciliation missionaries from the North of Albania in the course of discussing of the draft-resolution of the conference.
This memorandum is signed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Republic of Albania and the Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation, directive forum of reconciliation missions and associations, independent public legal person, based and the law nr.9749 of date 04/06/2007, about the State Police and the law nr 9090 of date 26/06/2003, for negotiation in support of the articles 73 and 83 sub article 1 of the Constitution and of the application of the National Strategy for Development and Integration of the government of the Republic of Albania.
Article 1- Goal
The signing of this memorandum aims to establish the cooperation for the stoppage of the phenomenon of murders for revenge and blood feud and for facing the challenges that weakened the rule of law, obstruct the development of the country and democracy, threaten social peace and human rights.
Article 2 – Vision
The parties cooperate about the common vision that Albania will be a contributing country in the United Europe, with a developed democracy and consolidated rule of law, a good example of the observance of law and protection of human rights, based on the positive values of the heritage of the Albanian people and European civilization.
Article 3- Protection of Human Rights
The observance of fundamental human rights and freedoms is fully reflected in the Constitution of Republic of Albania. Life is a right, a fundamental attribution of the human being. The fundamental human rights and freedoms, according to Article 15 of the Constitution, are indivisible, inalienable, and inviolable and stand at the basis of the entire juridical order, and that is why there exists the primary constitutional obligation of the state and all the factors of the society to respect and protect these rights. The innocent individuals, that up to the moment of being involved in an enmity cherish these rights as members of the society, suddenly are deprived from them in all the cases of enmities and self-isolation. The Ministry of International Affairs and Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation will continuously cooperate and will secure the support of all the institutions of Albanian state and of the international organizations for changing this situation.
Article 4 – Prevention of the misuse of tradition
Kanun’s hierarchy and Albanian traditional laws are part of the cultural heritage and cannot be applied in a modern society. During the post communist transition period, the application of Kanun under the psychology and mentality of tradition has degenerated into violence and tragic acts against the life of many citizens. The punishment of crime and the application of the rules of society should be conducted in accordance with the law and the tradition should be reflected only in supporting the rule of law, strengthening the urge of the citizens for democracy and respecting the law. The Albanian law for negotiations has contributed in the process of reconciliation, but due to the fragility and the drawbacks of the judicial system, it has initiated the establishment of Kanun institutions and traditional courts parallel to the constitutional institutions by causing the disorientation of the citizens. The correct interpretation of Kanun, stopping its misuse and highlighting the positive values of the tradition in support of rule of law is a primary duty of both parties and is in service of social peace, observance of law and consolidation of rule of law.
Article 5 – Coordination of activities.
The coordination of activities in the process of reconciliation and the prevention of murders will be done in cooperation and reciprocal support between the parties for the avoidance of conflicts and self-justice acts. The activities in the process of reconciliation of the families in enmity will have the necessary support of the police and representatives of local administration of all levels. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation will coordinate the work in highlighting the real situation of conflicts and enmities throughout the entire territory of the country. The support of representatives of the parliament, government, political parties, religions, international community, media and civil society will be asked for the coordination of the activities with the community about the culture of law and rule of law.
Article 6- Prevention of conflicts and murders.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation consider prevention as the main basis for the realization of the common strategy against the murders for revenge and blood feud. The detention of the authors of crimes, the work of NGOs for reconciliation of the parties in enmity and the emigration of a part of these families have influenced in the annual decrease of the number of murders for revenge and blood feud. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation will work together for increasing the confidence of the citizens toward the law and justice system and the cooperation with the police. Whenever necessary, Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation will support the state police for the protection of the citizens threatened by murders for revenge and blood feud or by other social conflicts. The Ministry of Internal Affairs appreciates the contribution of the western countries and supports the Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation for the protection of the families and individuals that have emigrated because of blood feud. For specific cases of families in enmity and blood feud, in support of the recommendation of the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, and Equal Opportunities, nr 1716 of date September 29th 2009, the national and international institutions refer to the Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation for the necessary information about particular cases.
Article 7 – Continuation of Cooperation.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation will continuously cooperate having as a priority:
a- The promotion of the culture of law, observance of institutions and consolidation of rule of law.
b- Prevention of crimes against the person, against life of citizens and protection of social peace.
c- Protection of human rights in every aspect of life and social realm, especially the protection of women and children from violence and exploitation.
Article 8 – Signing the memorandum and enactment.
The memorandum is signed in two copies by the Minister of Internal Affairs of Republic of Albania and the Chairman of Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation, one copy for each party, and takes effect on the date of signing.
Prof. Dr. Mark Tirta: Communal life in the Albanian Tradition The Present- The future At the National Extraordinary Conference of Reconciliation Missionaries and Associations
THE ROLE OF TRADITIONAL CODES IN SUPPORT OF THE STATE’S RULE OF LAW
8TH OCTOBER 10:30 AM
IN SCIENCE ACADEMY, Tirana
Dear participants and madams
We live in a globalization era, a time of wide social communication between small and large communal units, within a state and between states and continents. The present and the future call for large and small arrangements of rules and for a well-balanced social and economical communication. This requires the arrangement of small units in accordance with the territory and agglomeration of residential areas. Only this kind of communal arrangement can guarantee a balanced social and economical growth, free from danger of confrontation and turmoil.
The world civilization is presently walking on new paths, in a dream like cultural, social-economical communicating ways; new practical tools and new scientific inventions are made available as well as the ever so surprising interactive power of the internet, the presence of which was not even imagined a century ago. The cultural divisions that completely separated small human communities living in particular territories are coming to an end. In these circumstances, many medieval or ancient social aspects of the past are beginning to vanish or have already disappeared. This has come as a result of peoples’ quick progress. The same is happening with our people too. Many old features are vanishing due to the fast pace advancements of today. This is a mandatory requirement of the present and the future.
On the other hand, along with traditions that slow down progress, there are many values on the inherited ethnic and cultural traditions that journeyed, developed and accompanied Albanians for centuries; the need to be preserved in their specific functions because they serve the present and the future alike; they match the climatic and geographic conditions of a particular area in accordance with the connection or division of local units. The amalgamation in the world culture requires diversity, requires the historical memory of specific human communities in respect to their culture and art, requires the traditions that feed people’s soul, energizes the ability of the future to perform and invent. In general these values originate with the close-knit communities of small territories. Elements or trends of popular traditions born in specific territorial communities such as authors of folk art, of ballads, of legends and of historic songs, of tales, of mythical trends, of Albanian folk costumes with their confirmed roots since the early Medieval times and even with Illyrians, in surface, appear to have only entraining values but in reality, within, you find valuable inherited social ancient traditions testifying to the ethnic identity of these people; they were the resisting force for centuries, the immortal cultural creations who survived for thousands of years together with their creators and were carried from generation to generation able to emerge as live testimonials at the end of the 20th century. They are the present’s and future’s food for the soul and mind.
For centuries, being organized in village or urban communities, in small or large neighborhoods, large regions or interregional, has been a vital necessity to maintain a social balance, as modest and fragile as it might have been but crucial to Albanians, a powerful tool in the development of the society trying to reach the highest levels of the modern civilization.
Quite often, organized in small communities and at times average sized ones might seem insignificant but in reality this is not the case. The cells and the group of cells of the human body are invisible to the human eye and so it is with the circulation of the blood, the naked eye cannot see the small capillary system in action but in reality if it wasn’t for them we humans would not exist (meaning without the interaction between the group-cells and the normal blood circulation). The same can be said of the small human communities, neighborhoods in particular areas.
We are going to talk about the communal living arrangement in the village and urban level practiced amongst Albanians, about the small territorial communities who had become such not only on the basis of a common environment (neighbors), but on the basis of economical interaction, of property, of reciprocal help for the needy and of specific traditions and of marriage arrangements of the past, concentrating mainly on the 19th century and the first half the 20th century when over 90% of the adult population was illiterate.
We should remember that there was a high level of uncertainty at the time and people who lived in a valley surrounded by forests, or in a village in a mountain plain of the highlands of the same area, utilized customs to organize themselves. Roads leading to cities were difficult, and quite often, local entities were located too far from urban areas. The economy in the mountainous region was generally relying on natural resources; the families grew their own food using agriculture, gardening, stockbreeding, viticulture and they would sell their produce in the market in exchange for wheat and other life supplies. They would build and maintain a house, women would prepare clothing and bedding, they would prepare the food. Under these circumstances they were organized in village based communities having juridical rules, communion labor, and assistance for one another. They trained themselves to resist and protect. The village-based communities had an internal organizing in place, like “principalities”, they were governed by laws, cohabitation regulations, community leaders and judged by elder’s councils. They were simply called “village-based communities” and nothing more.
For many centuries and even over 2000 years ago the Illyrians, the Arber of Medieval Times and the Albanians of the new Era were dominated, for extended periods, by foreign powers respectively the Hellenic domination, later on they were under the control of the Roman power and further invaded by the barbaric Byzantine who were followed by the Ottoman domination without mentioning the foreign occupations that took place after 1912’s. The foreigners and the invaders alike, who took possession of the Albanian land, tried to enforce their laws with the goal of attaining social balance for their own interest and not to the benefit of village areas, or specific villages or neighborhoods or even humans as individuals. In these circumstances the internal arrangement of village-based communities was a necessity and quite functional; it was governed by people’s laws and customs and even foresaw punishment when those laws were violated. The customary laws were of ethical-moral and cult based nature too, in a way they displayed faith in a supernatural force.
Let’s use an example: In the past in the Northern Albanian Highlands, and sometimes in the Southern Highlands, there was an extreme “ekzogamy” applied. Not only the marriage between two people coming from the same family line was prohibited (such as within the clan) but even between those belonging to brotherhoods sharing the same residential area (i.e. people living in the same village or “brotherhood of perceived blood line” such as the ones who became godfathers through the “cutting of hair” or through performance of marriage and so on). In Dukagjin and in the highlands of Kurvelesh, old men have told me that they could not marry within their clan even after 400 generations had passed from their separation from the original family tree and that they would not give away women or take women in marriage from the same community. The number 400 is symbolical and can be replaced by the expression “indefinite blood bonds”. If that number is applied than you go back 1200 or 1300 years ago when no one, be that brotherhood, godfather or any one else for that matter could possibly remember the bloodline. Who dared to violate this law in those areas and before the Second World War, even in secret intimate relations was killed (i.e. couple). Ethically and socially those acts received a harsh punishment and the participants were despised and subjected to extreme isolation. They and their relatives believed that they were suffering due to this act and that God was punishing them as a result of this very “unholy” deed.
In general, one way or another, the village-based communities and to a certain extend communities of urban areas, in the past and even 70 years ago, organized themselves by adhering to very specific internal customs that had a judicial, ethical-moral end even cult based nature along with the laws applied by the state. These laws can be called customs, laws, rules, habits or by some other names.
The arrangements of village-based communities are more defined, clear and internally complete in their evolution. They have always been, and still are, territorial based communities rather than clan based ones regardless of their symbolic features. These communal arrangements are of different sizes and there is an interconnection amongst them; there is the neighborhood arrangement that is composed, (and same time not) of people from the same brotherhood (clan); there is the village arrangement and then there is the three or even ten village arrangement that was called “rrethine/ suburb” land, mountain or named after a specific valley or field. Then there is the regional arrangement made up of 10 to 30 villages. There is the arrangement of small and large regions with few or several villages. There are also bonds linking the councils of elders between different regions.
Analyzing this traditional arrangement of the past as a valuable trend for the time and conditions of our country while it was invaded maybe is going to give rise to misunderstandings and objections. However, it is of value to present some elements of this communal arrangement of the past. In a way they help us understand the present. Some philosophers claim that:” the dead govern over the living”. Great world ethnologists state that they study the past in order to identify the present and the future, to build the present and the future.
In the past, until the middle of the 20th century, it was the time when population was illiterate, when communication tools between cities and even foreign countries were lacking and in those conditions the coexistence was solved through a sort of “self governance” in the village, in the land, region or small region and in the interregional relations especially in regards to properties, grazing land, and areas to be used for large herds in winter times.
Every village had a group of elders, known wise noble men, who through the use of traditional judicial laws (customs) could oversee and regulate matters and who were able to solve disputes using their authority. In cases of financial damages or different injurious acts the elders of judgment would be assigned and they were the ones to judge the case. When the judgment was completed and the punishment agreed upon the release of the ransoms was conducted (the ransom). The judging elders of both parties received the ransoms from both, from the injured and the injurer. The ransoms were symbols attesting to the fact that the injured and the injurer would accept and would not object the decision made by an elder or group of judging elders.
When a more serious mater was to be examined, such as a dividing of property, a partitioning of grazing land and of mountainous area or the separating of families in two or more parts, both parties involved in the separating arrangement would bring their own representing elders (one, two or three of them) and initially would release the ransom then the dividing process would commence with a verbal decision from the elders and then continue with the drinking of the ‘separation coffees’ where many family heads from the village and from afar would participate. Once the coffee was drunk then the matter was solved once and for all. The word “coffee” was used but in reality and especially when the “matter” at hand was of a serious nature a big feast would follow with a lot of food and drinks and entertainment (songs, dance and folk games).
When the two groups of the elders, representing the two parties, did not agree on the division of property or estate, they, with the approval of the disputing parties and of the judging elders of both sides would assign a very known, wise noble elder from the village or respective region (at times he would be from another region as well). The one appointed as the elder above the elders would get the details and think about them for few days and in some cases would ask others, wise men, and finally he would render his decision in front of the elders and of the owners of the property and the case would be finalized. Then the greetings and good wishes on the matter would follow and the case would be considered solved justly and in mutual understanding and no one would speak of it again.
The whole village or region would hold an assembly at least twice a year, once in the spring and another time in the fall where a man from each household would attend. The assembly days were usually dates of celebrations such as the Day of the Summer, Novruzi, or the day of Saint George. At the assembly, men would discuss how rules of cohabitation were applied in the village and whether any violation of these rules had occurred. The rules that were to be followed during the year or until the next assembly were mentioned. A special rule would be discussed or a new one would be added with the approval of everybody. In cases where rules were violated a punishment was pronounced.
Finally the pledging would take place, and everyone promised that each one in the family would abide by these rules and that they would accept the punishment in cases of rule’s violations. In the evening every family head would communicate to his family the matters discussed at the village’s assembly, what was reached and the punishments rendered for different cases. Every new rule that was decided upon at the assembly was emphasized.
Another interesting institution in the arrangement of village-based communities and to an extent of urban ones was that of reciprocal assistance. When someone needed to build a new house, an irrigation canal, or a flood protective wall many people from the village would help for free as “free laborers”. The owner of the new house would serve coffee or drinks during the day and at times would provide dinner or supper. The same assistance was given when the cultivating of the land was required or when corn was harvested or when a large number of people were needed to complete an assignment. This work was morally motivated but in a symbolic way had the judicial and cult aspect within. According to people’s mentality those who performed good deeds for others were to be favored by God in return. In other words it meant, “ one hand washes the other and together they wash the face”. So that was an orderly reciprocal assistance.
The assistance (free food and clothing) directed at the unfortunate ones, at widows and those with many young children was quite evident. No one expected the unfortunate ones to give in return for the assistance received. In the people’s mentality and especially of the highlanders the belief was that this was God’s way of providing help. So the ones who did good would find happiness and good fortune and the ones who did bad would fare bad in return. The desire to help each other and the unfortunate in the Albanian highlands was very pronounced and did not escape the attention of the foreign explorers who visited the area such as William Martin Lik, Fransua Pukevil, Johann Georg von Hahn, Ami Bue, F. Nopca, E. Durham, M.Hazllek and so on. It so happen that one night the wolves got inside a man’s hut and killed all his livestock. Every family from the village and the area gave him an animal and at the end the man’s livestock counted greater in numbers than before. This was the arrangement of community cohabitation practiced in every village, region and between neighboring regions as well.
The residents of a village or of a region were very efficient and well connected especially in reciprocal assistance for the needy, for the unfortunate, in weddings and funerals, celebrations and special occasions. Everybody shared everyone’s misfortune. The happiness and good fortune was a reason of joy for everyone. A lot of assistance was provided during ceremonies and expenses were covered. Everybody would bring goods, food and money.
The purpose of this material is not the examination of the Kanun or the blood feuds. Its goal is to exhibit some features of the communal arrangements especially in the village, group villages and mountainous regions and lowlands.
That was the kind of the arrangement that did not have the need of local state authorities or police, or people who were paid to conduct court proceedings or bring justice. This arrangement, even of a long time ago, should be appreciated in relation to the respective social and economical circumstances of that time.
At times of wars and devastations caused by invaders the social balance would degenerate. Rrok Zojzi, a well-known ethnologist and passionate explorer of Albanian land explained what he had personally experienced during the time of King Zogu, between 1928-1939: “ the blood feuds ceased to exist totally by the use of force and application of state laws and were resurrected when the Second World War began. At the period of Communist dictatorship the blood feud phenomenon was wiped by brutal force but during the democratic changes in the 90’s new conflicts came to life. That was as a result of the issues related to properties that were in the past overtaken by the state and belonged to no one. It was caused by the anarchy and the lack of obedience to the rule of law and many other events happening in the last 20 years. It was a shocking social disturbance. One cannot discuss the effect or try to avoid the consequences without first analyzing the cause, precisely and realistically.
Scholars like R. Putnam, A. Tokevil, J. Berry and many others have, in their studies, monographs, and manuals, stressed the problem faced by the communal arrangement today, in other words, a self -arrangement of social communities in specific territories, understandably a neighborhood residence in a village, in a region and in a community made up of neighbors sharing the same street, the same square or smaller units within a city or even different groups sharing the same place. The argument is that the same should be done in developed countries like England, USA, France and other places.
Distinguished social scholars of the Sociology Institute in Tirana, Mr. S. Pellumbi, L. Sokoli, L. Shahollari, Gezim Tushi and others have studied the problem of the present situation in Albania. According to them the globalization requires a communal arrangement and specific ethnic-cultural identity. That does not, in any way, mean that the law and state authority cannot get involved. There are aspects of relations between neighbors, of ethical-social standards, whose shortcomings cannot be dealt by the most perfect state. These are easily solved by the neighborhood life through a particular arrangement, through actions that stem not only from obligation but more so from communal actions and relations abiding to definite rules of ethical, to psychological nature and customs and traditions of behavior, reciprocal assistance, work and communal projects in the community, assistance for the needy and the unfortunate. These are the rules of cohabitation in a neighboring setting that are expressed in the benevolent attitude toward one another, in the efforts to save the environment, in providing green areas, in the reduction of noises that bother neighbors, in the safeguarding of each other’s property, in the organizing of the community in cases of celebrations, funerals, weddings and other special dates where communal practices take place, in customs and traditions.
Every community, regardless of its size, should have a chair or two to three councilors who take care of every disturbance and action in a specific environment and deal with every unexpected case that needs to be quickly solved. The chair or the group in charge can organize meetings we call “assemblies”; different concerns are discussed there and projects aimed at serving the neighborhood community and the environment of the community are decided upon. The assembly is able to resolve disputes between neighbors and to presents new rules assisting in neighborhood relations. This kind of communal life approved by state laws should operate in Albania.
A community faced with issues or disputes can very well make use of the traditional tools such as the “ besa, the promise, the resolution of problems through goodness and people’s reasoning”. Instructions of men who are wise and just in word and deeds should be considered. This does not mean that we should use the medieval, patriarchal mentalities of revenge that are out of date and should be completely eradicated from social life. This is about the use of good traditions and customs related to life, social and ethical-moral relations in a neighboring setting. In this kind of arrangement the concerns and conflicts between neighbors would be avoided. When there is a vacuum of innovated arrangement then customs and conflicts of the past, of the medieval times, would reemerge.
Every trend of the past should be replaced by new local communal arrangements, by defined living spaces, neighborhoods, streets, villages, areas, and regions. The terms council, councilor or Head of Council should be used and not village mayor (male/female) as the latter ones were prohibited to participate such arrangements. The word “council” comes from the Latin word konsilius. It can be used as: Council of Ministers, Scientific Council, Technical Council and so on. So the term is not improper. The term Asamble is not appropriate at all and at times has been used to describe “the Village Council”.
Every nation promotes the traditions of the past using its history, language and ethno culture. In regards to us, Albanians, some work has been done but traditions of the past should be exhibited more, as without them we would not enjoy the present national identity and current achievements as special people. This can be accomplished by reviving good customs (traditions) that were used for centuries, restoring lyrical popular songs, epic legends, especially the epos of Muji and Halili, the beautiful ballads we inherited from the medieval times and so on. The legends, the tales, the puzzles, the proverbs, all of them are quite interesting in bringing the past to life. They are filled with wisdom, praise for the good and charity, patriotism; social and ethical connections between different communities located in specific territories are clearly demonstrated. The manifestation of these traditions and trends provide entertainment, people become spiritually closer, and the ties within