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The truths of an innocent "culprit", of a good man…
Written by Pandeli Bardhi 16 Shtator 2021
"Of a brave commander who sold neither the ideal for freedom, nor the patriotic spirit, who ended up in prison and judged by his comrades, shortly after the end of the war", writes among others Dritëro Agolli. And further, Agolli continues: I knew a man with a giant body, with two or three cobras on his belt and a beard, but when I saw him, he was with the appearance of an ordinary small man and dry face ". This was the brave Commander Shaban Zereci. It was June 1947 when he was brought to trial by the judges and the prosecutor who had taken him to his gang. People, when they saw that little man tied in the body, limping on one leg, what the enemies had not been able to tie for years since the day when only your mother tied him in the cradle, whispered loudly to him. low: “Even the Commander, the rare brave, Shaban Zereci, they are condemning him. " While standing in the dock, Shaban Zereci, listening to their accusations, looked at these judges and the prosecutor who were accusing them with a bag of lies: "For high treason against the people of the party", he thought to himself "How stupid I must have been. I am being punished by those who had the right wing in the partisan gang. As a Commander, they loved me and supported me in all the battles we fought ... Why did I fight? Once at the forefront of the war with rifles and cobras in his arms, today with handcuffs in his hands, in the face of the most trivial accusations of "high treason"! But who was Shaban Zereci? The year 1901, from Korça, comes to Opar the patriot and abc teacher Nuci Naci. Among other villages, he visited Zerec, about which he would later write. "One who will see natural beauties reminiscent of Switzerland, let him come and see this village of Lower Opar ”! In this village, in the great house of the Marjanaks in 1904, the newborn son was named Shaban. How many brave men was born and raised in this province. Here was born Usta Mehmet Isaja, who built the Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world. This region had produced Viktor Karapac, whose masterpieces are valued as masterpieces of the sixteenth century. Petro Korçari, the prominent architect of Ali Pasha, was born here, who "did not have a husband for the greatness and luxury in construction"! This is where General Gurra was born, who in 1833, at the head of 300 Albanians, liberated Athens, which was guarded by 3,000 Turkish janissaries, and raised the flag on the Acropolis. Osman Pasha Gaziu was born in this province and a great military strategist who never forgot his homeland. From Opari were also Hysen Zela and Abdyl Hazizi, brave leaders of the years 1701-1702 against the Ottoman rulers. This brave province was followed and followed by brave warriors, patriots and captains from Themistokli and Mihal Grameno ... Here, Shaban Zereci was born and raised. In this rugged mountainous region were born the painters Cetiri (Katro) who have decorated the churches not only of Albania, but also of the Balkans. Here was born the painter Spiro Xega, the author of the famous painting "Shahin Matrak Çeta" from Popçisht, who was treacherously killed in the Vrëpckë Tekke not far from Zerec who with his gang had wreaked havoc on the Turkish camps to protect the Albanian school of Lavdar who had become the "cage" (guardian) of the girls' school opened in Korça by the Qiriazi sisters or "Skanderbeg, riding a horse". Here is also the birthplace of Guri Madhi, the painter of the people. Oparak is also the writer Milto Sotir Gurra, journalist and writer of the National Renaissance, friend of Fan Noli, or George Tannef (Jorgji Xega) the best tenor at the Sofia Opera, continuing with Kristo Kono from Marjani i Opar, author of as musical works. Patriot with Kriston is also the patriot Pandi Leco Karbanozi who accompanied Ismail Qemali from Durrës to Vlora. And how many others. But, let's continue with Shaban Zereci. Shaban's family was pleased to see that nature had forgiven a boy with special qualities and for this they sent him to learn to read and write in the private school opened by the patriot Mehmet Dushari in his village, doing more than two hours of walking in foot, round trip. Shabani learned to read and write, he taught the great patriots, the history of his province. He also learned the song sung by the young people: "Here comes Opari, dressed in yataghans / We do not love the Greek, we are Albanians / When asked about us, who have you seen / We have chosen ourselves, Mehmet bej Dusharë"! There he learned the story of the Oparak man Burri Dushari, called Sheh-Belaja, who in 1701 led one of the uprisings that included Opari, Gora and Vithkuqi, whose bravery was recognized not only in his province, but also in the region. of Korça and Përmet. A short time had passed, when not far from his village, Shahin Matraku from Proptishti was killed with the betrayal of the opera "Robin Hudi". He finished the simple school with excellent results, but the Marjanak family could not leave it without the high school. To complete the school, his uncle Muhameti emigrated to Istanbul, who became a prominent figure in the Turkish government. They decided that the boy would continue the school of the Artistic High School in Korça, he would one day walk. There he would also get acquainted with French culture. He finished the first year and the second year with excellent results and exemplary behavior. At the beginning of the third year, with tears in his eyes, he goes to the school principal, telling him that, "I will not be able to continue the third year". The French director and the Albanian deputy director were surprised. "What do you say so boy?" "We have you at the forefront of the students." "There is no possibility, I have to walk one day, my economic conditions are very difficult. "I can not afford my parents do not have bread," said the boy. He left Shabani High School with tears in his eyes, but not from books. He learns that an 8-month course for gendarmes was opened in Vlora. Registered and successfully completed Started work as a simple gendarme and later as Post Commander in the Prefecture of Dibra. There, it stands out that the people did not like the King's "redheads". He also left the gendarmerie and attended a course in administration in 1929. At the end of the course, he was appointed mayor of Muhur in Dibra. With his behavior, he quickly won the love and respect of the villagers. The 25-year-old boy became a close friend of the patriot Dine Hoxha, who was described as the "Cradle of knowledge of the nine Alevis of Dibra"! A rare man who looked as if some rock had been detached from Mount Korab. Dine Hoxha's tower was erected where Murra flows into the Black Drini. He often invited the new Mayor, or "Toska" as he was affectionately called Shaban Zerec. Even after leaving, the villagers of Muhur did not forget their exemplary Mayor. Appointed in the Municipality of Vraka, Shkodra as mayor. Vraka, for the most part, was inhabited by Montenegrins. A close friendship with the teacher of the village Migjenin, who came to Vraka from Shkodra on an old bicycle, where he got the incurable disease of the time, tuberculosis. The two became the sons of the "new century", the two "joined their fists to fall right into the heart of the mountain that did not do it", both united their hearts and minds against the "bite that could not be swallowed, misery"! Shaban Zereci would leave an indelible impression on Migjen, so much so that Migjen would leave the treatments he was doing in Volos, Greece to meet his friends, including Shaban, who at this time had been transferred as mayor of Tunja to Gramshit. In Vraka he would be disgraced by the regime and it was not long before he was handcuffed and imprisoned, which shocked Dine Hoxha, the "Elder of the Nine Mountains" of Dibra. Went to King Zog's office. “Listen, O Our King! "Toska" Shaban Zereci, is an honest and brave patriot. If he did a hostile job, I did it! I miss him and I want to drink coffee with "Toska", to get upset with him "! It did not take long and "Toska" left the prison cell. Appointed in Tunjë of Gramsh as mayor. From a young age, he was an ardent supporter of Fan Noli. Here it is related to the "secret organizations" of Riza Cerova where they formed an anti-regime gang of 30 people with the mayor, the mayor Shaban Zereci. Participant of the "Fier movement". Commander Shabani, in an attempt with the Zogist forces, was wounded in the village of Libofsha. He returns to office as mayor of Tunja and one morning finds himself surrounded by numerous government forces. He did not give in to their calls by admitting to being tortured in the most macabre way. He appears in the military court, where he is sentenced to 101 years in prison, together with Hasan Rec and Islam Radovicka. Shabani also benefits from the amnesty granted by the government. By royal decree, he is appointed mayor of Kucaka in Lower Opar. The king had not forgotten Dine Hoxha's friend. It was the time when fascist Italy had occupied the country and the one who hated the invader the most was Shaban Zereci. The commander of the gendarmerie in the area, Filip Toma, shouted loudly: “I forget the pasta that Italy gives you, that you are not able to arrest a traitor. Today you will see how he will cast iron on a "delinquent" mayor, who aids Ducecs, he sends his villagers to the mountains ”! The militiamen, one after the other, led by Filip Toma, climbed the monopath. After a while, face to face with the chairman; "I have an order to arrest you and I will bury you at the Korça Bazaar"! "Do not joke, Filip Toma, because these mountains are a palm and a double", the mayor answers, taking the naganta out of the shell. For a few moments, the militia found themselves surrounded by dozens of area residents. The militiamen ran away with their tails in the saddle ... "I owed you debt, Mr. Commander Toma, these wild mountains are full of armed people"! From this moment, Shaban Zereci left his office and went out illegally, jumped into action at the head of the gang and later the battalion for the honor of the province, for the liberation of the country ... After the liberation of the country, when the dictatorship began to eat even its "fat", the bullet did not spare even the brave Shaban Zereci. But why? Below, we will learn many versions, but also the truth ...