AIS and ISP addressed the Ambassadors, Diplomats, and the International Organizations in Tirana and all of the friends of our country, through a letter listing the facts and developments related to the demolition of the National Theatre. The letter aims to raise awareness about the demolition of the National Theatre building being deeply an issue of rule of law and democracy. This overview is prepared using the summary tests already presented by KAS in publication entitled Autocratic Measures in the Shadow of Corona. We have equally considered also the facts and positions published by the Alliance for the Theatre and Forum for Heritage Protection, as well as the official documents and positions of institutions like the President’s Office; the Council of Ministers; Municipality leaders and the Tirana Municipal Council.
Below is the letter (text)and the Overview of Facts (document).
AIS and ISP, civil society organizations have been closely following developments related to the National Theatre building. The institutional action finalized on May 17th, 2020 with the demolition of the Theatre, and several important developments are listed in an overview of the efforts to demolish the National Theatre Building.
The debate on the destruction of the National Theatre is not just part of the aesthetic or political conflict in the country. The institutional acts, omissions, and the Police operation of May 17th, contain elements that are deeply related with the Rule of Law and Democracy.
In our opinion, all the activity of the Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the Municipality of Tirana in the case of the National Theatre has been drafted and developed in contradiction with the Constitution. The Albanian Parliament has drafted a special law for the construction of the new national theater. By practically renouncing the new law, the Council of Ministers has also approved the Decision, but for the same purpose – the destruction of the theater. Both of these acts have been challenged in the Constitutional Court, the latter has accepted them and confirmed their adjudication, as soon as the quorum is met.
Without waiting for the decision of the Constitutional Court, secretly and contrary to all the principles and norms of law, the Municipality Council of Tirana within a day approves the demolition of the building of the national theater and within 24 hours this decision is executed at 4.30 am by the State Police. The State Police has used disproportionate violence and its actions are in violation of human rights, up to the detriment of the lives of artists and activists who were inside the National Theater building.
The action came after two years of struggle between the Albanian authorities and a part of the Albanian artistic community and citizens who intended to “save” the building from the government’s plans.
Instead of taking the time to examine the legality of their decision, and opening the dialogue with civil society and experts, the Albanian authorities decided to make use of the last day of the special health emergency measures taken in response to the COVID19 pandemic, to demolish the theater.
Europa Nostra, the European Voice of Civil Society committed to Cultural Heritage, considered that 17 May was a sad day for cultural heritage in Albania and in Europe as a whole. And it was also a sad day for democracy and respect of the rule of law and human rights in Albania and in Europe as a whole.
AIS and ISP urge the International Organisations, EU and friends of Albania to closely follow up the developments on the constitutional court proceedings for the requests of President of Republic, to monitor all the actions of the prosecution authorities for the investigation of the National Theatre case and non-proportionality forced used by police forces.
The moment of the start of Demolition of Albanian National Theater, Video RTSH
Amateur Video, armed Police Officers inside the Theater Building. Video filmed by Theater Activist Activists (English subtitles), Video
Video and Audio (with subtitles), accompanied by journalist Ariglon Pali. Taken on the 17th of May inside the Police van. The Police officer orders the journalist to delete his recording and hand over his cell phone.
Amateur Video – Armed Rapid Reaction Forces getting out of the building fence – Morning of 17th of May
Amateur Video 17 May 2020 – Architect and Activist Doriana Musai testifies the moments of the demolition of the National Theater and Armed Rapid Reaction Forces getting out of the building siege
Actor Neritan Licaj escorted by Police – Amateur Video
Video – Photos of Albanian Drama Archives, part of the Albanian Literature Fund, Drama and Theatre Plays Ganre, written in 50 years by Albanian authors from Kosovo and the Republic of Albania. Now lost under the ruins. Photos before the demolition by Adela Budina.
We will continue to monitor the legal and factual developments on this matter,