Tirana, 26 August 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
Albanian authorities have put an end to the debates on the Church of “Shen Thanas” in Dhermi. Around 2 am today, forces of the territory inspectorate with the support of the state police, have demolished this church.
Yesterday, residents of Dhermi gathered in front of the Church not to allow its demolition, while high spheres of the national and Greek politics, were involved in strong debates and they didn’t spare accusations against each other.
In order not to allow the demolition of the church, Archbishop Anastas Yanullatos held yesterday a meeting with the former Greek PM, Alexis Tsipras.
Tsipras has declared that he encourages the work of archbishop Anastas in Albania, while the head of the Orthodox Church said that people worship “the truth, the work and the love”.
Dhima: This was a vandal act by the state
Spokesman of the Orthodox Church, Thoma Dhima said that the demolition has been done during the night in order to prevent clashes. He considered this as a vandal act of the state. “This is a vandal act of the state against Orthodox Community. It’s clear that what was said, that there were old walls of the previous church, is a lie now. They demolished everything! Now, it’s the turn of the remains of the families of the Orthodox community of the village to be desecrated with the justification that the remains of an Italian catholic must be found. What a shame!”, Dhima said.
Rama: Church of Dhermi will be demolished to be rebuilt
Part of the debate for the demolition of the church is also PM Rama. Yesterday, he said that “church in Dhermi will be demolished to rebuild it and restore it as it was before dictatorship”.
The prime minister says that he invites the citizens to understand the difference and he called the current church as “a garage without permit”.
“The old church of Dhermi will be reborn in the name of national heritage along with the garage without permit that they call a church”, Rama said.
Meanwhile, two days ago, in an online conference with the citizens, Rama considered the reaction of the Greek Foreign Ministry as intervention in Albania’s domestic affairs.
Kokedhima: The government is responsible for rebuilding the church, this time as a museum
Intervention of INUK in the Church of Dhermi has also been commented by the MP of this constituency, Koco Kokedhima, who calls the church a concrete slab in Himara, which has been built within the historical walls of the old church, which used to be a monument of culture. The socialist MP throws light over the efforts of the Greek clerics of the Orthodox Church to attack one of the most important figures of the history of Albania, such as Nico Katalani. For Kokedhima, the government is responsible for rebuilding the church, this time as a museum.
Basha: The demolition of the church is a hostile act carried out by Edi Rama
The leader of the Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha has strongly condemned Edi Rama’s violence against the church in Dhermi. In a press statement issued today, Basha says that “in darkness, without transparency and unexpectedly, Edi Rama demolished what the community considered as a cult object. The solution to this problem should have come through dialogue, by listening to what the residents had to say and by collaborating with them in order to take the necessary steps in order to respect the historical values and truths, but also to respect the feelings of the residents and believers of Dhermi and all of Albania”.
Basha said that “the demolition of the church is a hostile act perpetrated by Edi Rama, an expression of arrogance in the way he governs by not heeding the people. Not far from there, Koco Kokedhima, his privileged MP, has damaged national assets, the sea coast of all Albanians with a construction which has violated 10 laws of urban planning. But his building is not destroyed, because it symbolizes corruption and abuse with power and this is the cult of Edi Rama”.
The demolition of the Church, Dule: The European community must intervene
After the demolition of the Church in Dhermi, the reaction of PBDNJ was immediate. Through a press release issued today, this party says that “government vandalism in Shen Athanas, Dhermi, is the most significant proof that in our country, Constitutionality, the rule of law, human dimension and creed are giving way to arbitrariness, arrogance, violence and hypocrisy. Driven by the interests of its clients, the government failed in building schools and hospitals for the citizens and now, it’s also destroying their spiritual life”.
According to PBDNJ, under these circumstances, there must be immediate intervention of the international community in order to protect spiritual rights which are being threatened and to guarantee freedom of religion in particular and human rights and rights of minorities in general”.
Residents show resistance
Around 50 members of Dhermi, which is now an administrative part of Himara, remained for several hours inside of premises which served as a church for the village, in an effort to protect it. Residents warned that they would not allow INUK to demolish the church of “Shen Athanas”, as they have built it in the ruins of the old church demolished in 1973.
The priest: This is a whim of the mayor of Himara
Meanwhile, the Orthodox priest, Thimio Bixhilli considered the announcement for the demolition of the church as a whim of the mayor of Himara. He adds that Goro should have obtained permission by the Autocephalous Church for the demolition of the church of “Shen Athanas”.
In 1694, Nico Katalani, the Brazilian monk which was clad in the famous monastery of Grotaferata in Rome, was buried in the ruins of the church. He was buried inside the Sancta Sanctorum. /ibna/