Albania ex-prisoners end hunger strike

2012-10-22 20:20

Tirana - A group of Albanian former political prisoners said on Monday that exhaustion had forced them to end a month-long hunger strike protesting delays in receiving compensation.

"We decided to end the hunger strike because we are exhausted, but our movement will continue," Besim Valteri, a former political prisoner under Albania's communist regime, told local media.

"Several of us are ill and we have only seven hunger strikers left one month after the start," he added.

Twenty people had started the hunger strike but many were forced to stop after falling ill.

The former detainees, imprisoned for political offences during the rule of dictator Enver Hoxha, are demanding that the government "immediately" compensate all the victims of the communist regime with €14 for each day spent in prison.

Two ex-political prisoners set themselves on fire two weeks ago in a desperate attempt to draw attention to their plight. They survived but were taken to foreign hospitals to treat the burns.

Around 100 000 Albanians were killed, imprisoned or sent to labour camps under Hoxha, who ruled the country with an iron fist from 1944 to 1990.

Albanian officials estimate that more than 11 000 former prisoners have already received a first instalment of compensation for abuses suffered under Hoxha's rule.

Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha has refused to meet or authorise any talks with the protesters saying they were "an anti-government political movement".

An Albanian court ruled last week that the hunger strike and accompanying protest held outdoors in tents in a Tirana neighbourhood were illegal.