Nexhmije Hoxha, widow of Albania’s communist dictator, dies at 99

Nexhmije and Enver Hoxha. Under her husband’s reign, Albania broke off links with other communist states and was for decades completely isolated from the outside world. (Courtesy Facebook)
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Updated 26 February 2020

Nexhmije Hoxha, widow of Albania’s communist dictator, dies at 99

  • Nexhmije Hoxha passed away at home in the modest Tirana apartment where she lived with her daughter and her niece
  • Hoxha, who outlived her husband Enver by more than 30 years, never showed any remorse over his reign of terror

TIRANA: Nexhmije Hoxha, the wife and loyal defender of the former communist dictator who ruled Albania for more than 40 years, died on Wednesday at age 99, her family said.
She passed away at home in the modest Tirana apartment where she lived with her daughter and her niece, her daughter-in-law told AFP by telephone.
In a statement to the media, her son Ilir Hoxha expressed his “sorrow” and said his mother “dedicated her whole life to the liberation of the homeland and the construction of a new Albania, to progress and the emancipation of Albanian society.”
Hoxha, who outlived her husband Enver by more than 30 years, never showed any remorse over his reign of terror.
After Albania’s communist regime collapsed in 1991, the widow served five years in jail for embezzling public money.
She was also personally implicated in the executions, deportations and arbitrary arrests that marked her husband’s regime.
But she never missed a chance to praise her husband, once calling him “not a dictator but an ideal leader who knew how to defend his country from foreign and local enemies threatening Albania’s existence.”
“What should I be ashamed of? Why ask for a pardon? I do not regret anything and there is nothing I should feel guilty for. We only respected laws in force at the time,” she told AFP in a 2008 interview.
During the regime’s 1945-1991 rule, 5,577 men and 450 women were executed, more than 26,000 people were imprisoned and 32,000 deported, while 77,000 perished in labor camps.
Born into a family of ethnic Albanian Muslims on February 8, 1921 in the Macedonian town of Bitola, Hoxha met her future husband, 13 years her senior, at a clandestine meeting of the Albanian Communist Party in 1941.
They married a year later and she embraced his revolutionary ideas based on the teachings of Marx and Lenin, reaching the top ranks of the communist party herself.
Under her husband’s reign, Albania broke off links with other communist states after World War II and was for decades completely isolated from the outside world.
Hoxha spent her later years living in a Tirana suburb, where she wrote her memoirs “My Life With Enver,” surrounded by books, pictures and memorabilia.
She will be buried in a public cemetery on Thursday, her family said.


Democracy books disappear from Hong Kong libraries

Updated 04 July 2020

Democracy books disappear from Hong Kong libraries

  • Among the authors whose titles are no longer available are Joshua Wong, one of the city’s most prominent young activists, and Tanya Chan, a well known pro-democracy lawmaker
  • China’s authoritarian leaders say the powers will restore stability after a year of pro-democracy protests, will not stifle freedoms and will only target a “very small minority”

HONG KONG: Books written by prominent Hong Kong democracy activists have started to disappear from the city’s libraries, online records show, days after Beijing imposed a draconian national security law on the finance hub.
Among the authors whose titles are no longer available are Joshua Wong, one of the city’s most prominent young activists, and Tanya Chan, a well known pro-democracy lawmaker.
Beijing’s new national security law was imposed on Tuesday and is the most radical shift in how the semi-autonomous city is run since it was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.
China’s authoritarian leaders say the powers will restore stability after a year of pro-democracy protests, will not stifle freedoms and will only target a “very small minority.”
But it has already sent fear coursing through a city used to speaking openly, with police arresting people for possessing slogans pushing independence or greater autonomy and businesses scrambling to remove protest displays.
Wong said he believed the removal of the books was sparked by the security law.
“White terror continues to spread, the national security law is fundamentally a tool to incriminate speech,” he wrote on Facebook, using a phrase that refers to political persecution.
Searches on the public library website showed at least three titles by Wong, Chan and local scholar Chin Wan are no longer available for lending at any of dozens of outlets across the city.
An AFP reporter was unable to find the titles at a public library in the district of Wong Tai Sin on Saturday afternoon.
The city’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department, which runs libraries, said books had been removed while it is determined whether they violate the national security law.
“In the process of the review the books will not be available for borrowing and reference,” it said.
The law targets acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces.
China says it will have jurisdiction in some cases and empowered its security apparatus to set up shop openly in Hong Kong for the first time, ending the legal firewall between the two.
Rights groups and legal analysts say the broad wording of the law — which was kept secret until it was enacted — outlaws certain political views, even if expressed peacefully.
Any promotion of independence or greater autonomy appears to be banned by the legislation. Another vaguely worded provision bans inciting hatred toward the Chinese or Hong Kong government.
On the authoritarian mainland, similar national security laws are routinely used to crush dissent.
The new security law and the removal of books raises questions of whether academic freedom still exists.
Hong Kong has some of Asia’s best universities and a campus culture where topics that would be taboo on the mainland are still discussed and written about.
But Beijing has made clear it wants education in the city to become more “patriotic” especially after a year of huge, often violent and largely youth-led pro-democracy protests.