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Two anti-Communist Heroines

By Xhevdet Shehu

Two sisters, who escaped Albania in 1984, Isabela Islami (Çoçoli) and Zamira Eduards, are placed on administrative leave yesterday at the Voice of America headquarter in Washington. The story of two sisters that made headlines in Albania and all over the world at the time is already well known.

For almost 30 years they were working for VOA Albanian Service and in a way they had become icons of the Voice of America. The Newspaper Dita learned yesterday about their placement on administrative leave, which was communicated to them by the Service Chief, Arben Xhixho. After such a long experience as journalists in that radio station, the motives of the administrative leave are not known. According to the official action, they are placed on “administrative leave,” in other words it is a kind of non-duty status, until further notice. This means they cannot work at VOA for the time being.

In an exclusive interview for Newspaper Dita on February 9, 2014, two weeks ago, Isabela told the Albanian public for the first time what happened 30 years ago, why and how the two sisters escaped and how their brother, Klement lost his life during the escape. It was a description of an exhaustive journey from Çerma, Lushnja, where they were banished, all the way to Washington, DC.

As an already known journalist, in that interview Isabela gave her assessment for the developments of the last two decades in Albania, which she follows closely and attentively. We wish that the interview had no bearing in the decision to place the sisters on administrative leave; otherwise, we would consider the move as an attempt of purges that is being implemented even at the Voice of America, but somehow different from the purges happening in Albania.

Xhevdet Shehu is a former VOA correspondent in Tirana.

AAFH Translation

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