“I don’t have to be a communist to love my country,” proclaimed the founder of the Albanian Social Democratic party, Musine Kokalari during a public trial in communist Albania in 1946. She bravely professed her dreams for a free and democratic Albania, despite knowing the terrible consequences of speaking up for her ideals. As a result, she was sentenced to twenty years in prison and died in isolation.
Kokalari’s story, although tragic, offers inspiration to those seeking fairer and more just societies. Kokalari was not alone, several Albanian leftists, from writers to academics, sacrificed their safety and the safety of their loved ones to oppose the communist regime throughout its authoritarian reign. The activism of Petro Marko, Sejfulla Malëshova, Isuf Luzaj, Skënder Luarasi as well as Musine Kokalari have been brought to life in a series of videos documenting their historical journeys.
The video series, created by the "Friedrich Ebert" Foundation, premiered at the Millennium Cinema, Tirana and was followed by a panel discussion on the lives of these personalities and a reflection of the ideologies of the time. The panel included Ms. Stine Klapper, Director of the "Friedrich Ebert" Foundation, Mr. Edon Qesari, historian and co-author of the study "The Left - Political Thought/Biographical Profile”, Ms. Linda Kokalari, a family member of Musine Kokalari and Mr. Ditmir Bushati, Albanian politician.
Petro Marko, Sejfulla Malëshova, Isuf Luzaj, Skënder Luarasi and Musine Kokalari, had lives littered with tragedy, censorship, and sacrifice and unfortunately did not live to see a fairer society. However, their legacies continue to shape and inspire social justice and democratic values, though their political approach may have varied, all shared the same dream: that of a better Albania.
For more information, you can watch the videos on the following the web links: