Profesor Shenasi Rama ndalohet në aeroportin " Nënë Tereza"
During my current visit to Albania, today, on March 14th 2019 just as the airplane landed, at 19:30 I was detained by the Albanian Police at the ‘Mother Theresa’ Airport.
I trust this email finds you well. I am Shinasi Rama a naturalized US citizen of Albanian origin. I came to the US as a political refugee, escaping precisely from the criminal bands that run Albania. I am a Clinical Professor of International Relations at NYU as well. I study Albania and Albanian politics. I retain a certain degree of visibility in the public debates in Albanian politics. With the overthrow of the personal and ideological enemies and the more relaxing political conditions I started visiting Albania more often.
During my current visit to Albania, today, on March 14th 2019 just as the airplane landed, at 19:30 I was detained by the Albanian Police at the ‘Mother Theresa’ Airport. Although I have/carry only the US passport, and no Albanian state issued identity card, the Albanian police claimed that I, a US citizen, was being deported from Turkey to Albania. Why Turkey would not deport me to the US is a mystery to me. I was in their airport and they could have done so easily.
After publicly calling my name in the bus, I was taken away by the Albanian police. A list of the flying people was shown to me with my name shown by my seat number as being deported. Not by coincidence, I suspect, upon requesting to change seats, my assigned new seat was the Exit Emergency Door seat. The person who was deported took my previous seat that, it turns out, according to the Turkish Airlines responsible verbal communication, is used for all the deportees.
The security chief of the Airport, the chief of the police, and a non-commissioned officer were handling my case. I luckily had the phone with me and I called my friends instructing them to contact the US Embassy in ten minutes. I also informed the police that as a US citizen, I would like to call the US Embassy and avail myself of the consular services of the US Government.
The initial confusion was taking a very dangerous turn. The police chief said that she had to take me to the police commissariat, unless the situation was clarified by the Turkish airlines. These are the police stations where people have experienced some mind-boggling experiences.
They brought in the Turkish Airlines representative who claimed that it was a mistake, for there was only one single person to be deported today. They exchanged heated words with one another and concluded that all this was a mistake, human error. So the police chief that the Turkish Airlines would be fined 6 million leks. Which said nothing about why my name found in their passenger list.
I am deeply disturbed by the incident. Here is why.
To being with this was not a routine deportation case. I was in Istanbul for the day. I went out of the airport (with a Turkish issued visa) and slept in the Hotel paid by the Turkish Airlines. I had a Turkish visa out and in my way in to the airport. nobody at the customs and police services said or told me a thing.
Second, I understand that if you are deported they take you to your home country. If deported Turkey could easily have put me in the plane to New York City, for I have already paid for the return trip.
But the strange thing was that the Turkish Airlines representative, an Albanian, at the Mother Theresa Airport, said that these things happen!!! I beg to disagree. Somebody wrote the word (depo for Deportation) in the passenger list. If there have been such errors, why do not fix them on time? it was not just an error.
Third, I seriously doubt that this was a purposeful tactic to detain and control me at least for the night. Albania is a country that is undergoing through a deep political crisis. My visit to Albania, which was planned months ago, (I can come here for research during the academic breaks like the Winter, Spring or Summer break) coincides with the massive protests organized by the opposition, or the so-called opposition. This massive confrontation is expected to happen in two days and it could have grave political consequences.
Although I was not planning to go to that protest, let me emphasize strongly that I was not planning to go and join this other gang, I am extremely concerned that my visit caused them to worry so that they would use such an intimidation tactic. I come to Albania often, and this country is always in a mess. All my visit, that are pre-planned coincide with one or more such perilous conditions.
Yet, this incident was such that I have come to fear greatly for my life while in Albania. It is easy to stay in the United States and enjoy the good life I have. Yet, refraining from doing my job, telling the truth and doing the best one can do for his state and nation would be a sign of cowardice and fear. I refuse to become an accomplice by not doing the right thing and not helping my people in any way I can.
Therefore, Mr. ..., I am writing to inform you about this grave incident that cannot be other than an intentional brazen effort to intimidate me.
Your help in clarifying my situation and what are the next steps you recommend is greatly appreciated. particularly what should I do about the return flight from Turkey, while I am in Albania and any other recommendation you may have.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter. I look forward to receiving your recommendations.
Shinasi A. Rama, Ph.D.
Clinical Professor of International Relations
New York University