Albania says no!

Folks are probably still lined along the main blvd here in Tirana, cheering and celebrating Prime Minister Edi Rama’s recent announcement that Albania will reject the plan to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons. Though Parliament still has to take its official vote, Rama’s announcement against the weapons is music to Albania’s ears.  This victory belongs to the people of Albania, particularly the students who were united, organized, and vocal as they marched and protested in cities throughout the country all week long. People poured into the streets of Tirana, old and young, to chant “No chemical weapons in Albania!”  I was especially impressed by yesterday’s action when two of the leading figures from the Democratic Party tried to make the protests about their personal political causes, and were dismissed by protest leaders, as this movement was above politics.  I was also struck by an interaction with a woman I met in the boulevard today.  She talked to me about my sign and informed me that her husband was killed in Gerdec (the explosion I mentioned in the previous post), and that she was glad to join the ranks today.  She shouted over and over, “Didn’t we learn our lesson that time?”  I feel that today, voices such as hers were heard.

Here are some pictures from this week, including me holding a sign that read: “We don’t et soap for cheese! Chemical weapons are not good for us.  No! No! No!”  You all know that any chance I get to use one of my favorite Albanian expressions, I will.  Also, two of my favorite signs from the week included one that read “Chemical Brothers not chemical weapons,” and “We want Shqiperia etnike, jo Shqiperia kemike” (We want ethnic Albania, not chemical Albania).

IMG_0501 IMG_0505


I also made a few videos, I apologize for the quality.

Here is some footage from a poet who took the stage today with very moving and inspiring words.

And when it was all over, lots of celebrating, clapping, and singing: