Editorial: Albanian society has given up on itself

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 8, 2017 10:45

By Jerina Zaloshnja


Late judge Fildes Hafizi

Fildes Hafizi, a mother of two, was killed last week in Tirana by her ex-husband, a crime that exposed the frightening level of violence against women in Albanian society -- a society still involved in a transition that has been taxing, chaotic and violent -- and which is unable to protect women, mothers and girls from violence. The failure is not the society’s alone. All state institutions failed in their duties to protect her too.

The case of Fildes Hafizi, just like dozens of other cases of violence against women that often ends up in murder, has conclusively demolished Albania’s facade of a modern and advanced society resembling other European societies. Nowhere is this truer than in the case of the state facade of a gender-balanced government and the increased number of women in governance.

But there is more.

Fildes Hafizi was a judge, and that takes this case to an entire different level. Courts, prosecutors, police, the High Council of Justice, and all other relevant bodies failed not just to protect the life of a woman and mother -- but a judge too. To make things worse for authorities, this judge had asked for help from all the relevant state institutions.   She was failed by them all.

The sort of extreme violence she suffered goes against the very foundations of a democratic society and her murder is proof the Albanian state cannot provide security and fundamental freedoms to mothers and victims of domestic violence -- a fact that has been a public secret for years.

But it gets worse.

In addition to asking for help officially from prosecutors, judges, police chiefs -- even the High Council of Justice -- Fildes Hafizi also wrote a letter to the U.S. Ambassador to Tirana, asking him to help protect her life. This is not an uninformed citizen we are talking about. It’s about a judge that knows the system well and believes that seeking help from a foreign diplomat is the safest bet to protect her life from threats. It's a deserved slap in the face of Albanian institutions that routinely fail to protect victims. Fildes Hafizi is proof of the failure of the state, the justice system and law enforcement -- it’s proof this society is morally bankrupt. When there was nothing else she could do, the last appeal was to the U.S. ambassador.

Her appeal was not unique. In a territory that has nominally a state and a government, the U.S. ambassador is seen as the last appeal for all sort of issues. At times, EU and other international representatives are also thrown in the mix. Victims of the communist regime looking for compensation from the state write to the ambassadors, media have routinely reported in the past. People stripped of their properties during communism also write as they receive no solutions from the Albanian state. Relatives of the victims of the January 21 demonstration also write. The list goes on.

When President George W. Bush visited Albania, soon after he received a letter from an Albanian retirees organization protesting the Albanian government’s failure to increase their pensions. This is a true story, and not meant as a joke. Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes.

And then there are political representatives, the elected officials, the highest state representatives too -- always complaining to ambassadors when the government or the opposition does something they don’t like -- seeking international mediation for mundane and perpetual crisis.

The writing is on the wall: Albanian society has given up on itself.

Why else would there be a pervasive culture of humiliating dependence in place? Where is this unconditional surrender coming from, this total and fatal dependence on foreigners, even if they are representatives of great countries that want to see Albania do well?

Montenegro is a tiny country of 600,000, but neither judges nor politicians make it a trend of writing letters to U.S. and EU ambassadors. Croatia is about the size of Albania, and we don’t dare to think about a Croatian judge having to ask for help to save her life from an American, French or German ambassador, or even the head of the EU delegation.

There is not country on earth where salvation, a great life and prosperity have been gifted from outside. It has not happened, and it will not happen, and as long as Albanians believe that is the case, the situation will continue to be helpless.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 8, 2017 10:45