December 21, 2013

Chameria Deserves Justice NOW!

                                                                                                     Credit : Parallelozero

 Over 35,000 men, women, and children were expelled from Chameria and nearly 5,000 innocent civilian Albanians were massively murdered by Greek Nazi general Napoleon Zervas  in 1944-1945.  At the meetings in Tehran (1943), Yalta (1945) and Potsdam (1945), the three major wartime powers, the United Kingdom, United States, and the Soviet Union, agreed on the format of punishment for those responsible for war crimes during World War II. The legal basis for the Nuremberg trials was established by the London Charter, which was agreed upon by the four so-called Great Powers on 8 August 1945, and which restricted the trial to "punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis countries". The Nuremberg trials initiated a movement for the prompt establishment of a permanent international criminal court, eventually leading over fifty years later to the adoption of the Statute of the International Criminal Court. This movement was brought about because during the trials, there were conflicting court methods between the German court system and the U.S. court system.Some 200 German war crimes defendants were tried at Nuremberg, and 1,600 others were tried under the traditional channels of military justice. The legal basis for the jurisdiction of the court was that defined by the Instrument of Surrender of Germany. The court was limited to violations of the laws of war, it did not have jurisdiction over crimes that took place before the outbreak of war on 1 September 1939. Greek politicians still claim today that these individuals were collaborators of the Nazi regime and deserved to be massacred and expelled. Greek government today denies Chams ever existed and its citizens were thus silenced by the totalitarian and longstanding theocratic regimes. After the Marshall Plan, the United States policies and programs implied and supposed that Greece would be an important ally and a stable democracy in the Mediterranean basin. With the Schengen visa liberalization program put in place a few years ago, many Chams optimistically believed they would have the opportunity to visit their ancestral lands and resettle in their properties. They were wrong. Many of them were stopped and abused at the border checkpoints and their passports were often torn by Greek customs agents. The Greek Consulate in Tirana has consistently denied issuing entry visas to Albanians born in Greece, so the latter are denied the right to put a bouquet of flowers on top of their ancestors who are buried there, in their thousand-year old lands. Unfortunately, Greece does not allow the latter to freely speak in their mother language, Albanian, in public. They have no right to register as Albanians and are not recognized as a minority. Evidently, these acts are fundamental human rights abuses based on the principles of freedom of movement and those of property rights.
                                                        Children refugees from Chameria Expelled by Greece in 1944

December 2012, the PDIU (Party for Justice Integration & Unity) party presented a draft resolution to be passed before the Albanian parliament in the spring of 2013. This document was disgracefully rejected in 2004. Now the resolution mainly aims to reactivate the Treaty of Friendship between Albania and Greece and abolish the Law of War Decree between Greece and Albania No.2636/1940 and 2637/1940 respectively which are still active legislation. This document also calls for the establishment of bilateral ad-hoc committees to jointly work on resolving the Cham issue. Other areas that this document charges the Albanian MFA, Ministry of Education and Science and Greek government to work on the recognition of the minority status, the erection of two monuments in Paramithi and Filat to recognize the loss of innocent women, children, and elderly who were massacred by Greek Army units, with the proper conveyance of this tragic events in school textbooks. Charging the relevant diplomatic corps with resolving the issue is another important element of this document. The Albanian American Organization Chameria (AAOC) fully supports this important resolution.

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