Shevqet Peši: "Hero of the Albanian People"

(Published by La Nostra Lotta, Italy)

The life of the Hero of the People Shevqet Peši is one of a long period of courage. Born in the mountain village of Picarit near Girokastra on June 30, 1906, he developed the spirit of a fighter quite early, and he was only 14 years old when he took part in the war against the Italians in Valona in 1920. In 1924 he fought in the democratic revolution headed by Fan Noli. During the period of the monarchic power, he was an officer of King Zog, but not sharing the power for which he gave his service as an officer and having become anti-Zog he has arrested for the first time in 1937 and demoted from military officer. He fought against the fascist monarchy, heading the protest of the students of the city of Elbasan, when the monarchy brought the Italian fascists to Albania. In the Anti-Fascist War of National Liberation he was immediately committed as patriot. As a patriot Sh. Peši naturally could not remain indifferent to the outbreak of the Second World War. During the first months of 1942 he was already the leader of partisan military formations and at the same time he joined the Albanian Communist Party, (later called Party of Labour). He was chosen commander and commissar of the partisan military formations of the operational zone of Valona-Girokastra, where he carried out the duties as commander with valor, ability, talent and experience.

The condition of the antifascist war, the ideals that were fundamental to him of defense of the country and his leadership abilities, led Sh. Peši to become commander of the 5th Partisan Brigade and then deputy commander of the 1st Partisan Division. The echo of the deeds of Sh. Peši went beyond the borders of Albania, he fought against the Germans leading partisan military formations for the liberation of Kosova, gaining respect. After liberation he worked at all posts - both military and state - with honesty and high consciousness. He was Minister of Mines, Minister of Communications, President of the State Control, deputy in Parliament in all the legislatures up to March 31, 1991. In 1970 he was also the President of the Presidium of the Popular Assembly. In the last period he served as President of the National Committee of the Veterans of the Anti-Fascist war of National Liberation of the Albanian People, 1982-1992. For his merits of struggle, of a heroic combatant in the Second World War, he was given the medal of HERO OF THE PEOPLE as well as the high honorary nomination as a great democratic soldier of the "GIUSEPPE GARIBALDI" brigade. In his very intense life Sh. Peši also found the time to write. He wrote books of memoirs of the Second World War and many poems about life in the countryside. Sh. Peši began his life well, he continued it with dignity and he concluded it with a crescendo. At the end of this century the regime of Berisha took him prisoner at the age of 90 years with absurd accusations and "laws."

When Sh. Peši had fought for the liberation of the city of Kukesit in the north of Albania, some traitors and collaborators of the Nazis murdered 47 partisans of the 5th Brigade. They were all young people. Also 64 citizens of Kosova who had been freed from prison. These were caught by surprise while they were sleeping or eating. In response the partisan organized by Sh. Peši killed 21 collaborators. After more than half a century the grandsons of these collaborators, through a political order of Berisha, carried out their revenge and imprisoned Sh. Peši, who was in very bad health, on a stretcher with a fractured leg that necessitated daily attention. Thus an anti-fascist, anti-Zogist, anti-monarchist, legendary hero of the people, after 60 years returned to jail under the "democratic" regime of Berisha. But Sh. Peši was never afraid of the fascists and Nazis, he always remained brave and he declared openly "it is an honor for me to die in Berisha's prison." From that moment on he went on a hunger strike and said, "I want neither food nor medical treatment from the fascists." This he decided and this he carried out until the end.

After 12 days Sh. Peši died. He has chosen to end his life in the same way, as a brave patriot and hero. Sh. Peši did not die in the hearts of the people. The death that occurred in prison has not been brought to light at all, it remains a mystery, history will resolve it. The funeral of Sh. Peši was a great demonstration of the respect of the people and of the group of politicians for this man, a hero in difficult times as well.

Tirana, July 10, 1996

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