EVEN WALLS HAVE EARS is the platform for the accounts collected by AAAIFSSS. With these stories, collected carefully and responsibly, through these unheard voices, AAAIFSSS gives a helping hand to scientific research and civil education, alongside unlimited access to the files of the State Security Service during the dictatorship.
The methodology for Even Walls Have Ears was created as part of the project “Remembrance to Heal and Prevent”, carried out by AAAIFSSS with the support of UNDP Albania and the Italian government. The format for the questions was developed through cooperation between researchers from the Institute of History and AAAIFSSS. Transcription was carried out in the offices of AAAIFSSS, where the participants’ accounts are stored in audio and video form. Although seemingly easy, it took a great amount of work and care to carry out the project, and AAIFSSS would like to thank all the contributors, especially the survivors who, although they were mostly of advanced age, still trusted us with their most painful memories.
These testimonies will be managed carefully and will be available to any researcher, at any time, according to the regulations set by the National Archive of the Republic of Albania and the wishes of the citizens who entrusted us with their stories through their agreement with the interviewer. AAIFSS takes on the responsibility of managing and preserving these recordings to the standards expected of a national archive.
The stories told on this platform reveal personal histories of often intense suffering. But the social dialogue that we wish to create and develop about the past can only be made possible through open access to this documentation, because it is facing the truth that ultimately leads society towards healing. This confrontation means shedding light on the lives of the innocent, and honoring the sacrifices of those who survived with their human dignity intact. By creating a platform for their stories, for their own voices, we take an important step forward.
Remembering history is the foundation of identity and cultural heritage for individuals as well as communities. It plays a major role in developing relationships between different societal groups. A lack of such awareness can even be cause for heightened tension or conflict. Such initiatives, dedicated to remembrance and historical documentation, play a role in the creation and development of a historical perspective for individuals belonging to certain groups, and are a means through which discussion can be facilitated, be it on the local or national level, or an even further afield.
“’My story, is a moral duty to my parents, and to myself, to you my sons, to my fellow sufferers and to society,’” said one of the survivors who told us the stories of his own suffering throughout the time of the dictatorship.
According to Gentiana Sula, Head of the Albanian Authority for Access to Information on the Former State Security Service, this is exactly what provides the motivation to carry on with the work. Gentiana was the initiator of the project of oral testimonies and the creation of the archive, together with its respective platform at AAIFSSS.
The Albanian Authority for Access to Information on the Former State Security Service is a public, independent, judicial entity, responsible for carrying out Law nr. 45/2015, which pertains to the collection, management, processing, and usage of documents that belonged to the ex-State Security Service, and giving out information about the documents.
To fill out an application, please click here: http://autoritetidosjeve.gov.al/aplikime/akses-per-qytetaret/
The Albanian Authority for Access to Information on the Former State Security Service collaborates with the following institutions: the Archive of the Ministry of Defense; the Archive of the Ministry of Internal Affairs; the Archive of the State Informative Service; the General Directorate of Archives; the Directorate for the Protection of Classified Information; the University of History and Philology; the Commissioner for the Right to Information and the Protection of Personal Data; the Ministry of Culture and Museums; the Center for Albanological studies; the State Informative Service, and international entities such as: the German Embassy, the US Embassy, the Swiss Embassy, the Czech Embassy, the Bulgarian Embassy, the European Delegation, the European Council, UNDP Albania, OSBE, Conrad Adenauer Foundation, Friedrich Ebert foundation, Stasi Files Authority. Corresponding institutions include: the Bulgarian Authority, the German Authority, and the Polish Authority.
The campaign “Even Walls Have Ears”, carried out throughout 2018, reached its climax with a series of art installations by Alketa Xhafa Mripa on the 8th of May, across six different cities of Albania. Personal stories of the survivors of the crimes of the dictatorship, and those of their families, continue to be collected under the auspices of the campaign, and are reflected in great detail in this webpage by Albanian-American journalist Kristale Ivezaj Rama.
If you wish to share your story, which will become a part of the oral testimonies in the national archive of the AAIFSSS, please click here: http://autoritetidosjeve.gov.al/kontakte/
Gentiana Sula is head of the newly created Albanian Authority for Access to Information on the Former State Security Service. Coming from a family affected by communism, with a grandfather one of the missing, she has played a remarkable leadership role in advancing the agenda for coming to terms with Albania’s communist past.
This included improving the redress mechanism for ex-political prisoners and their families, preparing a roadmap for recovering people who went missing during the dictatorship, as well as leading the work to ensure access to the files of the secret police Sigurimi during the dictatorship, a law which Albania approved in spring 2015.
From2013 to 2016 she served as Deputy Minister of Social Welfare and Youth in the Socialist-led coalition government. The main focus of her work was employment and technical and vocational education (TVET) policies and programs.
Her experience so far has included 15 years working in international development, specialized in education policy development, child protection, youth, and gender. She has worked at the World Bank and UNICEF, and in countries including Albania, Kosovo, Georgia, Macedonia, Uzbekistan, and Yemen
She is married, and a mother of three children.
Kristale Ivezaj Rama is the Founder/ Director of the Balkan Artists’ Guild (BAG), a nomadic contemporary art platform based in London. Established in 2013, BAG is the first resource which promotes and supports artists from the wider Balkan region, staging three to four significant art events each year. Kristale works in collaboration with artists, architects, curators, and international art organizations to enable people to have thought-provoking, transformative experiences.
As an Albanian-American and descendant of a persecuted family, Kristale came up with the idea for an online bilingual platform as a way to bring the history of her family, along with the history of so many others, to light for a new generation. Her great-grandmother and great-aunts are the inspiration for Even Walls Have Ears. This is a passion project, and a contribution to her community, as a way to educate future generations about Albania’s recent past and the hardships of their elders and ancestors. All stories here were researched and curated by Kristale.
After obtaining a bachelor’s in Print Journalism and International Studies from Wayne State University (Detroit, Michigan), Kristale went on to work as a breaking news correspondent for The Detroit Free Press, from 2008-2010. In 2012, she obtained her master’s in Diplomacy, with a specialization in Economics and Security, from the School of Oriental and African Studies (London, UK). She is currently working on a book that will be a follow-up to the site, Even Walls Have Ears, with the help and guidance of the Authority for Access to Information on the Former State Security Service.
Alketa Xhafa Mripa is a London-based conceptual artist and activist whose art is concerned with issues such as history, memory and gender relations, through mixed media installation, painting, and photography. Exhibited widely, her work can be seen in Museum of Chaville in Paris, along with museums in Florence, Belgrade, Pristina, Lisbon, Berlin, and London. A bold messenger for activist art, Alketa is a passionate advocate of human rights. Empowering women living in oppressive societies, she shares with the world a deep emotional response to the reality in which she exists.
After spending her childhood in Kosovo where she completed her primary and secondary education, Alketa came to London in 1997 to study Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, before going on to study History of Art at the Tate Modern, London. Since then she has displayed her multi-faceted work in exhibitions across Europe including Berlin, London, Italy, Portugal, and her native Kosovo, where she gained wider recognition for her art installation „Thinking of You‟.
Alketa has spoken on “Ending Poverty” through Art at the UNDP in Kosovo, TED X Prishtina, TED X Tirana, and will be a 2018 UN Women UK representative. She will be speaking at the HeForShe conference in March 2018. She is a highly sought-after speaker among universities across Europe.