Wed, 19 June 2024

Molotov bomber attacks journalists, followed by smears against AEJ leader

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from Arbër Hitaj, president. AEJ Section, Albania. Tirana May 30, 2024  SEE UPDATES/ BACKGROUND BELOW

Two days ago, the Albanian opposition held its 10th protest against the mayor of Tirana, demanding his resignation over corruption charges. One of the opposition Democratic Party protesters threw a Molotov bomb at journalists and cameramen, risking their lives: see live Report TV

The AEJ Albanian Section reacted strongly, as it has done before, calling on the police to arrest those responsible. But a day later, the press spokeswoman of this political formation appeared at a press conference, strongly attacking myself, insisting that the statement was politically motivated. My family and my retired father were severely attacked for allegedly having sold out to the current government.

The AEJ’s Albania section has always been politically balanced and has never taken sides, and in numerous statements has been very harsh with the Socialist government when there have been violations of human rights or harassment of the media. Link here.

We express deep concern that such attacks incite violence against the media and journalists and become even more serious when they come from political parties.


Secretary-General Edward Steen writes: The AEJ International expresses full support for our Section in Albania, notably for our President there, Arbër Hitaj, and for colleagues anywhere subjected either to violence or to smears and personal attacks, as in his case.  

UPDATES/ BACKGROUND 31/05/24 

  • Statement by AEJ Intl President Saia Tsaousidou, and by Hon AEJ President Otmar Lahodynsky
  • The United States Embassy in Tirana denounced the attacks at the Tirana Municipality on its Facebook page: “The right to peacefully assemble, protest and demand action against corruption are all vital in any democracy, but the violence undertaken by the organizers has no place. Responsible political actors should reject all forms of violence. We salute law enforcement officials for their professionalism during today’s protest.”
Another day, another incineration plant to open: PM Edi Rama centre, with now-jailed minister Koka (left of Rama), at Elbasan, 2017

SG writes: The EPP shows full solidarity with our Section in Tirana.  For their part, DP sources dismiss the Molotov attacks as the crime of a stray extremist and insist the point is the “real” scandal at issue, namely high-level corruption over waste incineration plants that do not work and into which millions of Euros have disappeared.  Allegedly, media owners have played their part in covering this up. For background: one of Albania’s worst-ever corruption scandals concerned Lefter Koka, a former environment minister, who was last year sentenced to six years and eight months on corruption charges related to a waste incinerator at Fieri, as Balkan Insight reported. Last August, SPAK, the state Special Prosecution Against Corruption and Organized Crime, even seized control of the incinerator in Tirana.  

Rubbish, and especially that being dumped in Albania by neighbouring countries has been a big issue for a decade: see ideo. So has the gangsterism surrounding waste disposal, as Balkan Insight also revealed and, reported by CNA  here. See also Euractiv report last November. Popular opposition to incinerators is spreading across Europe, and notably to Romania and neighbouring Bulgaria.  

None of this is encouraging to those backing a Green Deal for Europe, nor those supporting the EU’s commitment to Balkan integration and a common future. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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