Freedom House Urges Restraint In Wake of Violent Protests In Albania | Freedom House

Freedom House Urges Restraint In Wake of Violent Protests In Albania

Washington

Freedom House calls on Albanian authorities and protesters in the capital city of Tirana to demonstrate restraint and immediately end the violence that has claimed the lives of at least 3 Albanian citizens today.  Reports of shots fired and multiple beatings recall the violence that ensued from a civil war in Albania in 1997.
 
Nearly 20,000 protesters took to the streets today in Tirana following the resignation of Ilir Meta, Albania's deputy prime minister. The demonstration quickly turned violent with 3 confirmed dead and as many as 40 injured. Unconfirmed reports put the death toll at as many as 6 or more. Meta’s resignation resulted from the release of a film in which he appeared to be involved in corrupt deals with former economy minister, Dritan Prifti. Political tension has been on the rise in Albania since the elections of June 2009, when opposition leaders accused the ruling Democratic Party of fraud.
 
"It is incumbent on Albanian authorities to show maximum restraint in view of the blood that has already been shed by protesters," said Paula Schriefer, director of advocacy at Freedom House. “First, all sides should pull back from what threatens to be an escalating situation, and then a full, impartial investigation must be held at the nearest possible juncture to identify who was responsible for today's tragic events."
 
Since the 1997 civil war, power has shifted back and forth between the country’s two major political parties and the issue of corruption has been a dominant theme in electoral discourse.  The ruling Democratic Party was re-elected in June 2009 in a poll that the opposition Socialist Party contends was marked by fraud.  Local elections are scheduled for May of this year.
 
Albania is ranked Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2010.
 
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.  
 
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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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