Memory Days VI

19–26 FEBRUARY 2021, TIRANA

#ditëtekujtesës2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear friends and colleagues,

 

hoping that you are doing well during this hard times of pandemic, it is our great pleasure to invite you to save the dates of the sixth edition of MEMORY DAYS, 19–26 February 2021. MEMORY DAYS is an annual activity of the Institute for Democracy, Media and Culture (IDMC) in partnership with Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) since October 2016.

This year marks the 30 anniversary of falling the statue of the dictator Enver Hoxha, which symbolizes the fall of the totalitarian regime in Albania. Did the communist dictatorship which lasted for half century, fall after this "popular revolution"? What were the challenges of the transitional justice for the punishment of the communism crimes? What have been the politics of remembrance during these decades and how do they influence the Albanians approach on this dark part of history? There will be different activities and experts of the field to give answer to these questions. The keynote speaker of this edition is going to be the famous historian from Austria, Prof. Dr. Oliver Schmitt.

During this week, IDMC and KAS, in collaboration with ISKK, Austrian Embassy in Albania, kujto.al, organizations of Former Persecuted and other actors in the field, will bring activities that strengthen the dialogue on the past and help sharing knowledge about the communist regime, such as: forum discussions, exhibitions, study visits in Memory Places, movies and documentaries screening, publications presentation etc.

We continue the tradition from previous editions, welcoming your project proposals related to the motto of this year, until 10th January 2021.

 

The variety of activities of this edition include:

  • Opening Ceremony of MEMORY DAYS, IDMC, 19 February
  • Online Forum: "Do we know the communist regime better?", IDMC, 19 February
  • Exhibition, IDMC, 20 February
  • Documentary screening: "From Scanderbeg to Enver Hoxha" (1984), Paul Lendvai, Austrian Embassy in Albania
  • Study visit in Memory Places, IDMC + KAS + Former political persecuted organizations
  • Presentation of the study on communist regime, ISKK
  • Presentation of the digital map, KAS + kujto.al
  • Round table: "30 years after the communist regime", KAS + ISP
  • Presentation of publication: "Genocide on 'kulak'", KAS + Anticommunists
  • Study presentation: "Do the movies of former Kinostudio represent propaganda or national wealth?", IDMC
  • Forum discussion: "Propaganda, fake news and disinformation to undermine democracy", IDMC
  • Etc.

 

Information about "Memory Days" activities:

Agenda

 

For more information on previous editions of MEMORY DAYS, visit 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020.

Should you have any questions, please contact us at office@idmc.al.

 

Best regards,

IDMC Staff

  • DAY I: OPENING CEREMONY

    The 6th edition of "Memory Days" opened with the speech of the Austrian academic Oliver Schmitt.

     

    19 February 2021, Tirana – Recognizing and approaching the past, three decades after the fall of the communist regime, is still an axis to build the Albanian present and future. It is not only a necessity to know the history, but also a rejection of the culture of impunity in the country. Right after the fall of the regime, human destinies and different social groups were disregarded and this is perpetuating making the former nomenclature having still an impact on society, although through various forms. This is the core message of the sixth edition of Memory Days, organized by the Institute for Democracy, Media and Culture (IDMC), in partnership with Conrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) and other stakeholders in the field of remembrance.

    The country's President, Mr. Ilir Meta, the Head of OSCE Presence, Mr. Vincenzo del Monaco, the Director of Conrad Adenauer Foundation, Tobias Rüttershoff, the Albanian historian, Mrs. Valentina Duka, the Albanian historian living in the US, Mr. Elidor Mëhilli, the Swiss historian, Mr. Daniel Ursprung were present at the opening of the sixth edition of Memory Days.

    In her opening speech, Mrs. Jonila Godole, Director of IDMC, said that this was such an unusual edition for it being organized in pandemic times and held at empty halls. However, the former persecuted persons or anyone living abroad interested could attend the event though an online platform.

    Then she answered the frequently posed question why she kept on organizing the "Memory Days" event and she was not leaving in peace "those who wanted to forget the past", as she pointed.

    "It is not the finger's fault for the wound that does not heal, but the drug we have selected to cure it and that is what I call intentional oblivion." According to her, we have been indifferent towards the confessions of the victims of dictatorship. "With our silence, we have condemned the dissidents and the voices of the past. By cohabiting with the past, we have trivialized evil. We have neglected. By remaining silent towards the glorification of public figures who collaborated with the regime, we have impaired our present and future," said Godole. KAS Director, Tobias Rüttershoff, while stressing the role of transitional justice in punishing the crimes of the regime and the role of remembrance policy over three decades, argued that only by confronting and condemning the crimes, the victims of the regime can find peace. He went on saying that "40 years of regime repression left traces in society and politics that make us have a moral obligation not to forget the past, but face it in order to have a better future. Therefore the potential and limitations of lustration policies, the role of transitional justice mechanisms, strengthening of democracy and good governance and the rule of law, are the center of discussion in the Memory Days".

    OSCE Ambassador, Vincenzo Del Monaco pointed out "through a mature dialogue, involving research on the past, it can be understood so that lessons learned are integrated into the present society in order to avoid falling into the trap of forgetting the past. Dialogue is the key word, because museums are not enough". Quoting Hannah Arendt, he talked about building a sound society that avoids repeating the past.

    The main speaker of this edition was the Austrian academic Oliver Schmitt. In his speech at the "30 years later – how much do we know communism?" round table, he said that Albania officially tries to set aside or ignore the communist camps; the former prisoners are being marginalized socially and in official remembrance. He noted, "critical research of contemporary history can be very difficult, especially it cannot be conducted in universities and academies of sciences, even because of personal continuity with communist regimes". According to Schmitt, "the efforts of intellectuals almost always face strong resistance, often aggressively formulated by the former communist nomenclature and their descendants". The Austrian scholar stressed that international research on communism is working much on comparative basis. "In this context historians working in Albania are indeed non-existent. Of the Communist-era sovereign states under international law (without including the three former Yugoslav republics!), only Albania is not represented in the international debate with scientific institutions." According to Schmitt, if Albania is a little visible, it is thanks to the aforementioned small group of intellectuals living abroad. "In the above-mentioned context of comparative research on communism, their position is not easy. This is because the results they have to offer do not always correspond to the prevailing ideas and theories of communism research."

    Then, the President Ilir Meta said that the problems of the communist period, though in new forms, are still found nowadays. Among them, he cited approaching the past, pleading guilty for the crimes committed during that period, assessing, and compensating persons who have suffered unjust sentences. "It is important to remember what this country has gone through during that dark period, to walk safely towards the future," he stressed.

    According to the head of state, "we must remember those dark days to learn lessons. We must remember them not to allow the shadows of the past to threaten our country's present and future. We must remember those sad times to remind of us how fragile democracy and its institutions are. To remind us that suppressing civic reaction, freedom of expression and freedom of thought is in fact an installation of dictatorship. To remind us that a people who sleep in democracy can wake up in dictatorship."

    All those present with their words put an emphasis on the past as an important element to build the future.

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