"These testimonies will teach future generations the importance of preserving core human values, freedom and democracy."Rose Dosti, AHRP Founder
WHO WE ARE
Founded in 2008, The Albanian Human Rights Project (AHRP), is a US-based 501 (c)(3) nonprofit volunteer organization dedicated to preserving 100 testimonies of former Albanian political prisoners, who were imprisoned, interned or banished from 1945-1991 under the Communist regime as historical documents for scholarly study and inspiration. Having reached its goal of filming and preserving 100 testimonies, AHRP’s next step is to translate into English and other languages all 100 testimonies for study and education and, in partnership with the Wende Museum of the Cold War, invite scholars to study the body of work available on the Museum’s “Open Acess” online catalog. In the near future AHRP will also embark on writing and producing a screenplay depicting the Communist period in Albania when more than 50,000 Albanian intellectuals, artists, writers, students, landowners, farmers, educators, clergy and even high-ranking members of the Communist Politburo, became victims of a political cleansing campaign designed to eliminate opposition to the existing Communist regime. Our hope is to make this little known chapter in Albania’s history known to the world and become a call to civil society to be vigilant so that human rights violations of any stripe have no place in a free world.
The mission of AHRP is to raise awareness and preserve memories of Albanian survivors of communist imprisonment and internment during the Cold War (1945-1991), making their testimonies available as primary sources for scholarly study, education and inspiration now and in the future.
HISTORY OF AHRP
In 1991, at the dawn of the collapse of Albania’s communist regime, Rose Dosti accompanied her husband Luan Dosti to Albania to locate and reunite with her husband’s siblings after a lapse of 47 years. The seven Dosti siblings, aged 5 to 16 when they were rounded by the Communist regime in 1945, were imprisoned and interned until 1991 as punishment for being the sons and daughters of Hasan Dosti, a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and co-founder of Albania’s first Democratic party in opposition to the regime. Rose and Luan did not know their whereabouts, or if, in fact, they were alive. All seven siblings by now married with children were located in the Gradisht prison camp, a dilapidated collection of small mud huts with dirt floors with only plastic tarps covering the structure. All the Dostis, then in their 70’s and 80’s, had spent 47 years in prisons and slave labor camp with only 16 ounces ration of bread per day, an outhouse accommodating 40 families, a water well a mile off, no access to food products, deprivation of all human and civil rights, daily humiliation and terror of punishment.
It was soon clear that the Dosti’s were not alone and that the story of imprisonment of more than 50,000 Albanian citizens—about 10% of the population every year-- must be told. But how? In 2004, Rose, along with like-minded friends, produced “Prison Nation: Albanian 1943-1990” a 12 minute documentary film to raise awareness in the United States of Albania’s little known tragic history of this period. It was clear that a foundation was needed to raise funds to collect and preserve as many testimonies of former political prisoners as possible before their stories were lost. In 2008, the Albanian Human Rights Project (AHRP) was formed with an illustrious Board of Directors including the first American Ambassador to Albania William E. Ryerson, among others. AHRP began its time-sensitive goal of recording testimonies, primarily from survivors in their 70’s and 80’s, so their stories would not be lost. These testimonies would be accessible as historical documents for scholarly study, education and inspiration. Thus far, 100 DVD testimonies have been filmed and are now preserved at the Albanian Central Archive in Tirana, Albania, as well as the Wende Museum and Archive of the Cold War, in Los Angeles where scholars, through its Open Access online catalog, may study them. Original footage is also digitized and archived at the USC Digital Repository at the University of Southern California for access to scholars globally.