A direct testimony briefly reconstructs the ciamuriota question that today two Albanian parties are trying to bring to the attention of the international factor to find a solution.
"There is the Orthodox Easter and our neighbors are all dressed up. My mother makes me run backwards for all the rooms. We must clean and polish everything, put good curtains, those worked together by hand with a crochet hook. It is Sunday, the plants must be taken care of and the courtyard cleaned, then, all running to wash and comb their hair. The Easter of the neighbors has put joy even among the walls of our house and they will surely come to bring us the colored eggs and share their party with us ".
This is how Pembe Rushiti, originally from Ciamuria, remembers childhood in his land.
"We were all friends, we knew each other and attended. Religious festivals, both Orthodox and Muslim, were such for everyone. We exchanged gifts and borrowed anything, except salt, which was for us or for them, it was not given to anyone you didn't want badly.
We lived in complete harmony. The little ones played among themselves without noticing any difference and the mothers were serene if the children stopped to eat at the home of friends. We had a kitchen so similar that we often went to each other's homes to ask for some ingredients and suggestions. Their house was always open, the same as theirs. Our husbands were friends. They frequented and greeted each other with kisses and hugs.
A Ciamuria, more populated by Albanians but also many Greeks, the greetings with the kiss between men were a sign of profound respect and friendship. We were almost all wealthy. It is well known that the cyurotes are capable of pulling bread out of the stones. They considered us capable and honest. Most of them worked in our lands. The Ciamuria was of the donuts, as long as ... "
He stops to breathe the now old Pembe. She has been away from her homeland since she was a child and today carries the weight of her 83 on her shoulders. She is lucid and wants to tell a story but the heart needs to breathe and calm the beating. The suffering suffered in the previous decades that still today has not disappeared has made her heart weak.
"We felt that something was changing in the air. Our Greek friends visited us less and less. From far away they greeted us with their heads and with frightened eyes full of pity. They seemed to want to tell us that they were powerless ".
It is a troubled past that of the donuts. It is in August of 1913 that the Conference of Ambassadors of the Great Powers in London in establishing the southern boundary line of the nascent Albanian state, assigned almost the entire region of Ciamuria to Greece. The first revenge on the donuts was, so to speak, a sort of forced assimilation.
She was forbidden to speak the Albanian language, they were obliged to pay non-binding fees and attend Greek schools. For Greece, they were nothing more than Muslim foreigners transplanted to a region that has always been considered his own, without taking into account that historical and geological studies prove their autochthony.
In 1923, they are included in the population exchange between Greece and Turkey at the end of the war between the two states based on religious and non-ethnic belonging. At least 20.000 Muslim donuts were reluctantly transferred to Turkey. 20 years later the story will repeat itself with catastrophic consequences.
The year was 1940, in the middle of the Second World War. The then dictator of Greece, Ioannis Metaxas, who until then had tried to keep his country out of the Second World War, did not yield to the pressures of Mussolini who insisted on occupying some strategic sites in Greek territory for the entire duration of the conflict with Great Britain. With Metaxa's historic phrase "Che guerra sia", as a response to Italy's ultimatum, the latter attacked Greece.
In October of the 40 the troops of Mussolini covaudata from some units of the Albanian militia formed within the Italian army that joined believing to fight to reconquer the Ciamuria, occupied Greece entering from Albania, annexed by Italy the year before. Occupation that lasted very little thanks to the strategic preparation of the general dictator Metaxas who retreated the fascists, also occupying part of southern Albania.
The accusation of collaboration with the fascists that Greece addressed to the donuts was the flag for the sad destiny of the Muslim ciamuriota community. Thus endless suffering began.
The 27 June 1944 more than one hundred thousand Albanian donuts took the escape route to Albania.
On this date, at least 600 of them, about 3000 over the course of two months, most women and children were raped, tortured, killed and torn to pieces. Indescribable atrocities on lifeless bodies. Fathers and husbands had to dig common graves for the remains, before being, in turn, killed or expelled in Albania.
"I was only seventeen, we ran away as soon as we heard that the army was approaching," Pembe Rushiti tells with a trembling voice. My father was an imam, we will surely end up in the hands of butchers. Some of our Greek neighbors opened the doors for us to hide but the risk was too high. We were terrified. My father hid the title to the land in his underwear and he knew that if they would find it with us, we would all end up in food for the ants. So he went ahead several meters and pretended not to know us. I still remember the most chilling scene of my life ”, the old woman sobs strongly. Tears cover her proud and generous face, they reach her chin and fall like a tap on her hands placed one on top of the other in front of her, and so she begins to tell.
"There were two of them, they were not from the army, or at least they didn't seem to be. She was alone. Dressed in white, they evidently had killed her husband (as a sign of mourning for Ciamuria, she wears a white veil and abhors black). We had joined the mass and we were on our way to Albania. I heard her scream and ask for help. Tossed to the ground and taken to barrel, and then raped in the most macabre way. I don't know how many times, I don't remember and I didn't count them. I covered my ears and cried helplessly. I felt it anyway. After which a moment of silence. I thought it was over, she received her condemnation from the Greeks, but no. Someone took out a knife and opened her belly. She was pregnant in the eighth month. The fetus was torn off and left to die with her. Some of them cry: "There will be no more donuts. Or Greek or dead. " We knew it was the only way out. Our men had died in facing a ruthless and faithless enemy. We could only bring memories with us and lick our wounds that are still open today ".
Today, in Albania there are over three hundred thousand donuts. Communism after the Second World War silenced everything and Ciamuria no longer heard of it for more than half a century. In memory of the victims of this genocide so much has been done since the nineties but nothing concrete has been supported by the governments that have alternated.
The various associations of Ciamuria and today also the political parties that represent them continue to raise their voices for years about the right to return to their lands and the international recognition of genocide. But the enemy seems to be within the walls of the house. Although the 27 June is recognized by the 1994 by the Albanian parliament as the day of commemoration of the victims of the genocide, no government has ever really confronted the issue of Ciamuria and asked for explanations on the denial of the rights of the original.
Meanwhile, European Greece continues to deny the existence of this massacre and its embassy in Tirana the elementary right of ciamurioti to visit their land, refusing them the issuance of visas.
These acts clearly demonstrate the hostility and fear of Greece that the ciamurioti can return to their lands and prove that they are native. As would be clear the title of ownership of which Pembe told and that most of the ciamurioti brought with it. Maybe leaving the food behind, but that document knew it could take them back to their land.
The shame of which it has stained would cost Greece a lot if it were admitted. Silent Europe on the affair could no longer pretend to do nothing and consider it a matter between Albania and Greece. It itself would be stained with guilt and lightness in having allowed the Hellenic state to ignore the ciamuriota question and never asked for forgiveness.
In memory of the victims and to request the right to visit their lands and the recognition of the genocide, the 27 last June, Shpëtim Idrizi, leader of the Justice and Unity Party (PDU) which refers to the ciamuriota population of Albania, along with others politicians and many ciamurioti fell like every year in the major Albanian squares. The envelope with the invitation was also delivered to the Greek embassy in Tirana which, without opening it, sent it back to the sender inside another envelope.
This year's organization has no equal. Buses full of originals from Ciamuria have traveled to the beautiful Albanian city of Saranda with its marvelous sea and breathtaking mountains to greet their Ciamuria which is just a few meters away. Precisely in the province of Saranda, in the place called "Qafe e botes" from which the ciamurioti entered escaping from Greece and near which their common tombs are found, was the meeting point of the two marches organized by the PDI (Party of Justice and Integration) and the PDU.
The promise and hope of Shpetim Idrizi, political leader of the PDU is the same as those present in this huge event. That of doing everything possible, knocking in all the doors, talking until the last breath and claiming without discount the recognition of the massacre and the right to return to live in their lands, which have come to life with ciamuri and have given from to live even with the Greeks themselves.
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