New bunker monument met with protests

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times October 2, 2015 11:02

New bunker monument met with protests

Story Highlights

  • Former political dissidents have expressed concern and protested against what they see as the re-introduction of communist dictatorship symbols

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The new monument site is located behind the Interior Ministry and would serve as the entrance to an underground museum. (Photo: PDP)

The new monument site is located behind the Interior Ministry and would serve as the entrance to an underground museum. (Photo: PDP)

TIRANA, Oct. 1 – A new monument depicting a bunker, which the authorities had planned to build as the entrance to a new museum on the communist era, has sparked anger among the former political dissidents who suffered under the regime.

Tens of members of the community tried to storm a police barricade in Tirana to tear the new structure down. They say they oppose building such a structure from scratch when bunkers like it still litter the country, reminding them of their terrible communist past.

The new monument site is located behind the Interior Ministry and would serve as the entrance to an underground tunnel that was built to be used by the communist authorities to shelter the top military and law enforcement officials in case of a war.

The communist regime built 700,000 bunkers across the country during its rule, fearing attacks from both the Soviet Union and the Western countries.

Now many of the bunkers have been destroyed and their materials recycled. Larger ones are used to house anything from small businesses to restaurants.

The protest also has political connotations. The former political dissidents say they mistrust the current left-wing government, which they say has members that are nostalgic of the communist era. The protest was supported my lawmakers of the center right opposition.

Another monument 200 meters from the site, built with the approval of the formerly politically persecuted community uses a small bunker that was already on the site, a piece of the Berlin Wall and an entrance to a former labor camp.

Last year, authorities opened to the public a big underground five-story building constructed from the communist to shelter their command in case of a war and capable of confronting a nuclear attack too.

The government is trying to turn former communist places into tourism attractions, which seems not to have pleased the politically persecuted, who view the left-wing government with suspicion.

They took their complaint this week to the country’s president, Bujar Nishani, through the Pan-national Union for the Integration of Political Prisoners and Persecuted of Albania.

The association expressed concern and protested against the re-introduction of Communist dictatorship symbols such as the most recent building of a bunker symbolizing the dictatorship at the courtyard of the Ministry of Interior.

Nishani’s office said the president had been watching with worry attempts to reintroduce communist symbols 25 years after the regimes fall, and he added he would follow up withing the bounds of his constitutional role to make sure that balances are kept and that all sectors of the society are protected.

Last week, there was anger among many Albanians when festivities commemorating the Conference of Peza, a WWII anti-fascist event, were accompanied by nostalgic supporters of the late communist dictator, Enver Hoxha, with his portraits and chanting his name.

A group of veterans and members of the Communist Party, went to the monument commemorating the events of the National Liberation War in Albania after the end of the official ceremony attended by the Socialist Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj and several MPs from the ruling Socialist-led coalition. Veliaj distanced himself from the photographs, saying they were not part of the ceremony organized by the municipality.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times October 2, 2015 11:02