Citizens gather in second National Theatre protest

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 20, 2020 21:42

Citizens gather in second National Theatre protest

TIRANA, May 20 - A second protest against the demolition of the National Theatre concluded peacefully on Wednesday evening, which brought together again hundreds of civil society members, citizens and artists. The protest began with the signing of a petition to bring back the National Theatre "where it was and as it was" and a yellow "Crime Scene" cordon sorrounding the area where the Theatre stood.

Director Robert Budina announced during the rally that the petition will be sent out to every city in Albania for everyone to sign. Budina also invited all citizens to gather near the SPAK offices on Thursday in order to push for an investigation into the demolition of the National Theatre.

"We are people who have acted institutionally and the fight for democracy is long and needs you. We will win through peace and by being civil. Thank you for this model of citizenship that you all demonstrated together," Budina said. He added that other measures will be taken in case the investigation into the demolition of the National Theatre does not commence.

Among the crowd of protestors, were also opposition leaders Monika Kryemadhi and Lulzim Basha who joined the crowd in signing the petition.

At the end of the protest Basha accused Rama of seeking to stop Albania from continuing its path towards the EU.

"On May 17, Edi Rama proved that there can be no free and fair elections with him. The DP has shown willingness for electoral reform because we want Albanians to go to the polls. Today this is no longer our responsibility. On May 17, they blew up faith in a process where faith is everything. The Democratic Party cannot be a facade, " Basha said.


The leader of the Vetëvendosje Movement in Tirana, Boiken Abazi, who was arrested on the day of the demolition of the Theater, stated that authorites tried to intimidate them during the court hearing.

"We have been out of the first court hearing for three hours, where they were trying to intimidate us with the criminal proceedings because we were caught red-handed, I wanted to tell them that we caught them committing an institutional crime on Sunday, "Abazi said.

Tirana Court gave its verdict for Abazi, along with seven other protestors who were arrested on Sunday following the demolition of the National Theatre. The Court sentenced Erik and Endrit Mërtiri to house arrest until June 3, while Abazi, Kastriot Qema, Romeo Lilo, Ledion Xhoxhaj, Burim Tafilica and Sokol Ndoja are obliged to appear in court.

The prosecution had demanded that two of them be placed under house arrest and that six others be investigated on charges of illegal massive gathering and resisting police.


The President of the Republic, Ilir Meta stated that "all arrests, detentions and proceedings for the peaceful protection of the National Theater are only political and that [they] should be released". He added that "the demolition of the National Theater finally annihilated any illusion of the existence of the rule of law in Albania."

The Alliance for the Protection of Theater is organizing another protest rally in the afternoon, demanding an investigation into the demolition of the National Theater and the violence against its members.

Earlier, Prime Minister Edi Rama denied that there had been violence by the police and added that there was no reason to investigate neither the demolition of the Theatre nor the police.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 20, 2020 21:42