Communist-era “Sigurimi” file on Martin Camaj declassified

Prime Minister Edi Rama’s remarks at event marking the opening of the Sigurimi security service file on one of the most prominent and distinguished figures of the Albanian world, Martin Camaj:

It was with great pleasure I came here today, of course as a Prime Minister, but I would have been attending this event even if I were not to be a Prime Minister, because I knew Martin Camaj, though unfortunately not face to face, but we had a constant contacts together. We met by voice and I had the honor to escort him to his final resting place on the day he parted from all those who bid him farewell on that snow day.

Of course, in my capacity as the Prime Minister, it is with pleasure that I come here to express my consideration and esteem to the Authority for Information on Former Communist Police Secret Files for the commendable and tough work it has done and encourage the Authority not only to go on with the work it has done to date, but go even farther beyond its scope to convey to the Albanian public words like the ones that the Head of this institution uttered very competently and impressively.

It is a great pleasure and honour for me to attend another “burial” ritual today to bury here any accusations and slanderous remarks now levelled against him not only by those who deprived him of his homeland, but by those who didn’t let him rest in peace. According to them, I am a collaborator too since I my home library includes a collection of books by Martin Camaj bearing his dedication and autograph, which, according to the mischievous and perverse mind of “scholars” that’s the autograph signed by the subject labelled 2A. I have been the contact of the subject 2A, Mr. Simon.

It makes me both laugh and cry, because it is unbearable and unendurable the easiness with which an ever growing group of people, who represent nothing and are destined to remain nobody, are seeking to become someone by daring to reach where some of the most prominent stand, about whom De Rada used to say: “In the sky, angels make their own banquet.” The angels make their own banquet and breaking this order and the unbridled effort of a horde of pseudo scholars, who, by harnessing and taking advantage of all the parameters and unfortunately, all the conditions created by this new time, to forcibly enter their banquet and to take their place, that is, to replace the angels with the devils in that sole and exclusive feast, is frightening but deserves to be fought and will be fought ceaselessly.

For this reason I believe that what is being done today is beyond merely the task of the Authority for Information on Former Communist Police Secret Files and I want to tell Mr. Simon, for whom I have a special respect for what he is and the reason why he has joined today this Authority, that this is a humanitarian act and an obligation not only towards Martin Camaj, but also towards ourselves, towards society and the country. At the end of the day, Martin Camaj is probably seeing us from above and is smiling together with Musine Kokalari, whose Sigurimi file will be opened at a similar event. He was the last notable heir of the generation of the Albanian Renaissance and he is unquestionably on that upper table where the most prominent authors of the Albanian literature have taken their place and where these small noises are inaudible and no ordinary profiles can reach,” Ismail Kadare says. 

There – he says – understanding and harmony prevail eternally and that’s why celebration and the celebration goes on forever and chandeliers’ lighting never fades away. And while Ismail has written all this before devils and genies showed up emerging out of every sort of digital bottles and out of every kind of corners, where the vengeful wrath of good-for-nothing fellows and mediocrity was cultivated, attacking, neither more nor less, but a man who in his lifetime, not only wrote in a way that earned him a place among the most prominent authors of literature, but embodied all the physical, spiritual, psychological exhaustion from what was communist persecution.

He was a close friend of Gjelosh Gjokaj, another Albanian but from Montenegro, and both were bounded, so to speak, by the space outside these borders, which were extremely tiny to them. While Gjelosh came from a completely different walk of life and made the covers of his books, attempting to visualize the beasts,  those savages and ghosts of Martin Camaj’s books, which, frankly speaking, were beautiful beasts, were wonderful savages compared to the beasts and savages who persecuted Martin Camaj.

Martin moved from the areas on the foot of Temal Mountain to the city of Shkoder and was lucky enough to have an erudite and a church’s martyr Father Zef Valentini as his rector, but his education was abruptly terminated in 1946, when the regime banned him from college in view of branding them since their childhood with the term we happen to now later as “a stain on their biography.”

Likewise, part of this micro cosmos, so to say, was Arshi Pipa, also a fugitive. When speaking about Martin Camaj, Pipa describes him as the quintessential Eastern-European intellectual, who was forced to leave his homeland for political reasons and who moved from one place to another, but once settled somewhere he was no longer young and realizes it is impossible for him to finally settle in the country he has ended up, because he is haunted by the nostalgia for his motherland and he happened to be a writer –Arshi Pipa writes – and he would express this nostalgia trying to revolve around a basic theme that is its own cultural humus. In fact, he himself, if he were a bird, would be a migratory bird, untamed by the bad weather and always in search of a warmer place that he never found and that he sought through the Albanian language, through his verses and lines on his books.

It is quite interesting I believe, but this should be done by “scholars”, who do not go so deep when seeking to boast themselves as the scholars they are not and instead of translating into slander what they have received directly from the security file, try to decrypt and sort out Martin Camaj’s messages.

This is the outcry, the exclamation of someone who has never sipped from the poisoned chalice, who refuses the poisoned chalice and who could have made a pact that many have described as the unavoidable deal with the savagery of dictatorship and he could have signed the pact as collaborator, but he didn’t.

I am very happy today that after so many years, when he was haunted by the phantom of his persecutors as a curse, no longer by the hands of the communist regime, but this time through the anger of the blind tools the mediocrity has, we manage to shed light on this and this was an accomplishment by the Authority and all of those who are present here for this reason and who have contributed in this direction and of course, the only thing I see as part of my contribution is the support for the establishment of the Authority for Information on Former Communist Police Secret Files. I want to very openly and very honestly state, I was terrified by the idea that the fate of Martin Camaj in public, because of these incurable and inconsolable dwarfs, who grab a pen, write a book, promote it, find a sponsor, who usually sells sausages or peanuts, could suffer neither more nor less, but the clergy Catholics of Albania. Because it almost seemed like a plan, but in fact it is not, because fortunately today, unlike yesterday, there is no one who plans large scale these kind of unmasking offensives, or rather there is someone who plans them, not in culture, but in another domain, because I tend to comment on the sea border issue, but I am not going to focus on that at the moment, since it is a typical case when there is no agreement, no negotiations for several years now, because we did not agree, yet they call on us to do transparency. In other words: “Think hard, because there is something worrying you.” And this way I saw that the hands of these (people) were appearing on the angels of the banquet described by De Rada, dressed in the cassock of martyrs, and the sacrificed Catholic clergymen, which would be the culmination and the end, for all of us as a society, as institutions, as individuals and parents.

Therefore, without the Authority of Files, the debate about Martin Camaj and other people would be destined to become like the pseudo-debate about the sea.

Given that the Albanian people has best described that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on, defamations, lies, promulgation actually prevail in this domain when an Authority, a point of reference, a respected source of information is not in place. Plus, for the fact that the tendency, unfortunately a national tendency to believe evil, to believe slander, to believe at a certain moment prevails, and without this Authority nobody would ever realize the simple fact that the file of surveillance is something other than the collaboration file. There is a file, yes, there is definitely such a file. There is a file on Martin Camaj and many others, but they are similar to our personal health card. An extra file about anyone born in a family with a stain in their biography, according to the then regime, was ready for everyone and it was filled, as the files you have already declassified show, with consistent data and when of this child grew up to go to school, someone who had nothing to do with the file was informed that this child couldn’t go to school. Likewise, nobody would ever now the reasons behind his escape, because we know quite well what speculations have been made about his escape.

Meanwhile, in order to save his two of his friends from being sent to prison, namely Gjon Destanisha and Lazer Pali who were sought by the then, he informed them before they escaped and gave them the chance to leave the country. This is the fact included in his file. It is neither a page of an alternative research seeking to glorify him, nor a poem, but a fact.

Indeed, when we committed to establishing this Authority, we followed Germany’s example that declassified the secret files shortly after the country’s reunification. Don’t ask me why didn’t this happen right after the second liberation, as we may call the phase of transition from dictatorship to democracy. I know why, yet I am not here to go over and engage in this topic.

It was so surprising that this was done by us, that is, those who persecuted Martin Camaj, including me,- something no one believed even when the Authority was founded, that this would be the beginning of a path of truth. It is a fact that since the first file on Musine Kokalari was declassified, in February 2017, thousands of such files have been opened to date over the past three years. If this had been done before, and if carefully declassifying, in professional terms, and not to hide anything, but in the professional sense and with so much internal cohesion within the Authority – I repeat, the Authority is pluralistic institution and here I want to pay a compliment to all the members – then imagine how many people we would have been sparred after their death from the continuation of the persecution in another form, in the form of the shadow of doubt, or even worse, as it was the case with Martin Camaj, who was accused of being a spy.

However, what is gone is gone.

The Authority has laid a moral foundation stone in this whole new history vis-à-vis the past. If each of us has often stated all over these years that communism, dictatorship opened deep wounds, the failure to declassify the secret files for so many years allowed and caused many of these wounds become infected. The infection of many of these wounds goes beyond researchers and readers and it spreads in the society, it poisons and contaminates the society, just like cleaning all these infections during these all post-transition years and transparency over the truth of that era provides significantly relief to the body and organism of our society as a consciousness and it creates a new relation with the past the future, a much truer and certainly a uniting relation.

He who has no control over the past stands no chance of projecting the future. This is not something I have invented, but it is a saying quoted by much wiser individuals and it definitely applies to this country and to the Authority for the Files as a tool of control of the future in terms of transparency and fair reading of the future.

I know it was a long speech, but I am pleased that Martin Camaj, thanks to you, thanks to the Authority and everyone else, he earned a final triumph. This country’s devils conjure up everything, yet I hope this is ultimate triumph. Poison affects us, affects our community and our conciseness, whereas the works by these so-called scholars – and I don’t mean researchers and scholars here, who deserve this title thanks to their work and dignity, but I mean those who publish books thanks to the sponsors I mentioned earlier – they will become nothing. Just like the leaves that fall from the tree, they are all gone, whereas the trunk remains and Martin Camaj is part of the trunk. They will disappear one day and nobody will ever remember their names and, given the most recent digital developments, I not pretty sure whether they will be ever remembered even by their granddaughters and grandchildren.

That’s why, I want to extend a special appreciation and conclude my speech by quoting Martin Camajt. I believe it fits best with the whole work you have done, as you have helped him to be no longer “like in those bad times. Others accused him of everything, but he was not here to answer them, though better not to be here, that if he did, thing would have gone worse for him and he would have suffered even more unjustly. But you were here, you did it. Respect and I believe that what you have done for Martin Camaj will serve you as one of the arguments that, when you die, present your credentials to go to heaven. Thank you!