STORIES

Eye for an eye

In Albania, one of Europe’s poorest countries, the centuries-old tradition of blood vengeance has seen a resurgence over the past decade. The law-and-order vacuum created by the collapse of communism has sent many Albanians back to the oral common laws of their tribal roots, laws that include the right to murder to avenge an earlier killing.

The story of Edi begins four years ago, when his father killed two neighbors in a fight for a dispute over severed power lines. Despite the father has been killed by the family of enemies, Edi risks the second revenge because the neighbours killed were two. Edi is 16 years old and from that bloody day he lives stuck in his house with his mother Rosa with the fear of vendetta. Edi isn’t alone. There are an estimated 2.800 Albanian families living in self-imposed isolation, trying to avoid becoming victims of blood vengeance.

The phenomenon also affects women and children, as men exposed to the risk of revenge despite the Kanun (Set of traditional laws) prohibit it. At least 160 children have been forced to abandon school, but the number is probably higher: the Ministry of Education is creating a core of teachers with the job to keep lessons in the houses where children are stuck.

The right to vengeance in some areas is even considered an obligation, penalty contempt by the community and the complete exclusion.

“Blood spilt will be wiped away by blood taken back”. Code 848 of Lek Dukadjini’s Kanun.

The only way to escape revenge remains to stay at home, a place considered by Kanun inviolable.