As many of you will have followed, on 24 July it went on the air Roots on Rai Tre (link) . In thanking RAI and Davide Demichelis for their commitment and passion, we believe it may be interesting to share with our readers some of the footage shot with a mobile phone, videos that RAI has decided not to broadcast because "Radici does not tell stories of nations but of people. "Roots" does not investigate, does not deal with politics and makes no complaints.
Below, then, you can see what happened in Greek territory when the only two Albanians of the Rai expedition (Sonila Alushi and the Albanian driver) were stopped, for no reason, by the Greek police forces. That still remains inexplicable, so much so that Sonila has decided to address a letter to the Greek authorities to try to better understand the reasons for what, as the films can confirm, seems to be an abuse of authority. Happy, eventually, to be denied by Greek sources who can write to us to prove the needs of public security that justified the detention.
Embassy of Greece in Rome, Italy.
Embassy of Greece in Tirana, Albania.
My name is Sonila Alushi, I have 36 years and I am an Albanian citizen, resident in Italy from 17 years. My roots, however, sink into Çamëria or, if you prefer, Thesprotia.
I am writing to make you aware of a situation in the town of Margariti on 17 Maggio 2015. I was there with the Italian television crew RAI 3. I was there because I was chosen as the protagonist of the documentary "Radici". It is a program that makes a journey in search of the roots, affections, places and memories associated with each protagonist. In Margariti still today there are the ruined houses of the çams, among which the one that belonged to my paternal grandfather.
We were interrupted by a gentleman who proclaimed himself a Greek policeman. After our initial mistrust, he showed us a card without giving his name and surname, and we followed him to the station. We feared we had broken some law, maybe some small traffic offenses. We were serene and helpful, as is appropriate when we are guests in the land of our ancestors. He will understand, therefore, our astonishment when, as soon as he entered, the same agent asked us if there were Albanians in our group.
I replied that I was, of course, and so did our driver. We have handed over our passports that have been photocopied. When he asked us to follow him to his office to answer questions, we all got up, but with a quick and slightly annoyed tone the policeman explained to us that only the two Albanian citizens were enough! The understandable request for explanations of our Italian comrades was followed by a squabble that only fueled tension. I preferred to calm my companions and follow this gentleman to avoid involving their embassy. After all, not having violated any law or rule in Greek territory, I didn't have to worry. I was a free citizen in a democratic state, right? While to our traveling companions but, look carefully, Italian citizens offered coffee, we responded to the interrogation of the Margariti police officer! He wanted to know where my grandparents were born, what was my father's name, my mother, my husband, my children! He seemed, with all due respect, a civil servant who had to give me a birth certificate. But it wasn't enough. He wanted to know where I live, what I do, where I was born and what we did in Greece! He wanted to know how we got into the border and when. He wanted to know when we were leaving and what we would have done immediately after leaving here! He did the same with our driver! We responded to everything with serenity. To my request for explanations, he replied by saying that: “It is a practice Madam. We use to stop and inform us about foreigners visiting our country. It is a question of security to protect our citizens from possible criminals! "
I am kind Gentlemen, from a group of foreign 5 of which three Italians and two Albanians, only we Albanians were studied, stopped and questioned for a question of security, to understand precisely, if we were possible criminals!
I'm sorry; I am scandalized; I am bitter; I am outraged by the attitude and behavior of the law enforcement officers of the town of Margariti!
When I was a child, my grandmother told me that it was a Greek from Margariti who helped her by supplying her family with clothes, food and animals while hiding in terror in the mountains. No, they were not bandits, but they hid for reasons that you know well and on which I prefer not to come back now. And he told me that it was another Greek from Katavothra who accompanied the family of my great-grandfather to the border with Albania. And my maternal grandfather told me how much he loved the Greek language, music and customs. And he told me how he got along with his Greek neighbors and how many Greek friends he had!
What I am trying to say is that despite the sad fate that my family had to endure, they did not nourish me with hatred, prejudice and resentment against the Greek people, indeed: the language, the dances, the music, the customs that they belong to you, they have been presented to me as beauties and things to love. They taught me to respect your people and your country. And that's how I behaved, and so I will always behave.
And it is precisely for this reason, for this debt of gratitude to my ancestors that I point out the above. Unfortunately, it is not new. It is the practice that many Albanian citizens who want to visit the homes of their ancestors in Thesprotia suffer.
What happened in Thesprotia is a real drama that cannot be denied and hidden forever and this discriminatory attitude of various representatives of your state, does not help relations of good neighborliness at all. Just as it does not help the Albanian tourism in your coasts. But above all, it doesn't help you. Unfortunately, history remains with its load of horrors and it is not worth imposing a censorship of memory. It is much better to admit and elaborate the inhuman and planned persecution of thousands of women, men and children from the Ham. It's the only way to overcome it, don't you think? As a friend of your people, that's what I hope. May you finally resolve the phobia of your past, not removing it, but making it an element of awareness, for the respect of every minority.
But I could be wrong, maybe. Perhaps our arrest has nothing to do with the çam genocide. In that case, I will be happy to hear your explanations about what happened to me.
With true friendship and respect.
Bergamo the 24 / 07 / 2015