The Chameria Association of Albania and many other organisations, have accused Greece of a genocide and called for a return of their property and free movement in Greece.
Cham Albanians are one the many sub-group of Albanians who migrated to Epirus from Central Albania during the Middle Ages, beginning in the 1200’s but accelerated in the 15th and 16th centuries. On the promise of having southern Epirus, that they call Chameria, annexed from Greece to join the Albanian state, the Cham Albanians were enthusiastic collaborators of Fascist Italy and Nazi German during their occupation of Greece.
In the first few weeks of the Greco-Italian War in 1940, Cham collaborationist burned Igoumenitsa, and later Paramythia and Filiates, to the ground, causing Greek villagers to flee into the mountains.
Post-war court verdicts and testimonies found that the Cham Këshilla militia headed by Xhemil Dino conducted mass murders, rapes and village burnings against Greeks.
From 29 July-31 August 1943, a combined German and Cham force conducted an anti-communist sweep operation codenamed ‘Augustus’ that resulted in 600 Greek villagers killed and 70 villages destroyed, with Nazi German Lieutenant Colonel Josef Remold saying that “with their [Cham] knowledge of the surrounding area, they have proved their value in the scouting missions,” and Nazi German Major Stöckert saying that they “performed very well.”
During September 20–29 1943, the Nazi Germans and Cham Albanians would conduct a reign of terror in Paramythia that Hans-Jakob Bickel, a Swiss representative of the International Red Cross who visited the region, said:
“20,000 Albanians, with Italian and now German support, spread terror to the rest of the population. Only in the region of Fanari 24 villages were destroyed. The entire harvest was taken by them. In my trip I realized that the Albanians kept the Greeks terrified inside their homes. Young Albanians, just finished from school, wandered heavily armed. The Greek population of Igoumenitsa had to find refuge in the mountains. The Albanians had stolen all the cattle and the fields remain uncultivated.”
With the fall of Fascist Italy, the British proposed to the Chams to turn against the Germans and enter an alliance with Britain. The Chams refused this offer, but began fleeing en mass to Albania when defeat was imminent. The British reported that the Chams fled to Albania with half million stolen cattle and 3,000 horses belonging to Greeks.
A U.S. intelligence report also revealed that Chams withdrew from Greece with German vehicles when they went to Albania.
The main motivation for the Cham to flee Greece was to avoid persecution for their involvement in crimes against humanity and war crimes. However, they did not find refuge in Albania as many were imprisoned as “collaborators of the occupation forces”, “war criminals” and “murderer of the Greeks” by the new communist government.
Despite the overwhelming support the Chams had for the Nazi German and Fascist Italians, and refusing peace offers with the British and the National Republican Greek League resistance group, Albania today is the only country that calls this a genocide despite decades of lobbying and awareness campaigns.
In the last few days, Albania has been conducting so-called genocide campaigns at Konispoli on the Greek-Albanian border.
Former Albanian MP Dashamir Tahiri declared in his speech that the government must give more efforts in supporting Cham Albanians against so-called unfound accusations launched by Greece, such as “collaboration with fascism,” even though it is universally accepted in the historical community, as proven by not only testimonies, but reports from the era by Greece, Italy, Germany, Britain and the USA.
The Chameria Association every year calls for the return of property their forefathers lost when fleeing post-war justice.
In 1992, Greek Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis, father of current Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, compromised with Albania by allowing properties returned to Cham Albanians whose forefathers were not convicted of war crimes on the condition that the Greek minority in Albania who had lost property due to persecutions by the communist government. Albania rejected that proposal.