Northern Epirus Liberation Front
|This article's factual accuracy is disputed. (July 2009)|
The Northern Epirus Liberation Front (MAVI: Metopo Apeleftherosis Voriou Ipirou, Greek: Μέτωπο Απελευθέρωσης Βορείου Ηπείρου, ΜΑΒΗ) also called Northern Epirote Liberation Organization (EAOVI: Ethniki Apeleftherotiki Organosi Vorioipiroton, Greek: Εθνική Απελευθερωτική Οργάνωση Βορειοηπειρωτών, ΕΑΟΒΗ), was an ethnic Greek resistance group that operated in areas of southern Albania (Northern Epirus) during the Italian and German occupation of Albania (1942–44). The group operated after the withdrawal of the Greek forces from the area (April 1941), against the invading Italians, Germans and both against the Albanian communist and collaborationist organizations.
In May 1942, the first Northern Epirote resistance groups appeared in the area of Delvina led by two locals and former officers of the Greek army: Spyridon Lytos and Ioannis Videlis. Soon several resistance groups were formed by the local Greek population all over southern Albania. They were operating in the regions: Pogon, Lunxhëri, Zagorie, Riza, Himara, Vlorë, Përmet, Leskovik and Korce. In June 1942 these groups were organized under one leadership and the MAVI (also called EAOVI) was formed. The leading spirit was Vasilios Sahinis, a native from Douvian (Dropull).
The organization was a branch of the right-wing EDES that operated in Greece and its headquarters moved from place to place in southern Albania.
Widespread action was taken by the Northern Epirote resistance in December 1942, when attacks on Italian controlled frontier posts and gendarmerie stations increased. In the regions of Zagorie, Pogon, Delvine, Sarande (Vourkos) and Rhize sectors guerilla activity by MAVI was increasing. That period the leaders of the organization received a British mission in the village of Polican.
As a result of that activity Italian occupation forces took action, operating with units of the Albanian fascist militia. In March 1943, 160 inhabitants of Korce were sent to concentration camps for suspected underground activities with the Northern Epirote resistance. Moreover, with the help of Balli Kombetar bands, occupation forces outlined plans against villages and towns of Epirote sympathies, in order to demoralize them.
The British Mission proposed that MAVI and the Albanian communist party, LNC, should collaborate to form a stronger force against the Axis and Albanian collaborationists (Balli Kombetar), and arranged several meetings near Gyrokaster in August–September 1943.
On August 8, representatives of the Northern Epirote resistance, decided to join the communist party only in specific attacks against the Axis, provided that the latter will recognize the autonomy of the region in the post-war period. Although the Albanian communist leaders agreed and assurances of the British allied mission were given, they secretly marked Vasilis Sahinis for liquidation.
In September 1943 Italy surrendered to the Allies and her place in Albania was taken by German troops. Epirote groups were able to take the initiative for a short-time period.
During the period before Italy's surrender until the communist party prevailed (1943–1944) vicious fighting occurred between MAVI and combined armed groups of Germans and Albanian nationalists of Balli Kombetar (Ballists) The results were devastating, many Ballist's bands looted and burned villages in their paths, shooting the inhabitants by firing squads, despite gender or age, burning the houses, some of which were locked with their occupants inside and hanging the village priests. In some occasions the operations were observed by German officers. In Moscopole the historic monastery of Saint John Baptist was destroyed as a result of these actions as well as in Bilisht and Leskovik the Balist bands of Safet Butka (an upper rank Ballist) resulted in heavy destruction and executions.
Vasilios Sahinis, became targeted by the Albanian police. He was assassinated on November 17, 1943, when the Albanian communist party raided Gjirokastër
In February 1944 the regions that were under the control of the Northern Epirote resistance were taken over by the Partisans of FNC. The last recorded action was during October 1944 when an Epirote band ambushed German troops and captured their officers. However, due to diplomatic failure of the British mission and unprovoked actions of the communist resistance (of Enver Hoxha), MAVI was doomed.
In Axis-supported Balli Kombëtar attacks and crimes against villages and towns, over 2,000 Northern Epirotes were killed, 5,000 imprisoned, and 2,000 taken hostages to concentration camps. Moreover 15,000 homes, schools and church were destroyed.
Attacks in 80s and 90s
In 1984, when a car bomb killed the Albanian ambassador in Greece, and on 10 April 1994, when 2 Albanian officers were killed in a border post on the Greek-Albanian border, responsibility was claimed by a far-right paramilitary organization which had the same name.
However, there is no clear link between the two organizations. According to press reports the World War II resistance organization, probably disbanded during the 1940s.
- Ruches 1965: 156
- Ruches 1965: 156 "The villages of Polytsani and Malesiovon were in Epirote hands long enough to establish a headquarters and receive a British mission".
- Ruches 1965: In March 1943, 160 inhabitants of Korytsa were sent to concentration camps for suspected underground activities connected with the Northern Epirote resistance".
- Ruches 1965: 159 "Having to dislodge effectively the Northern Epirote guerillas... tha were independent of the beys".
- Archaeology, Anthropology, and Heritage in the Balkans and Anatolia: The Life and Times of F.W. Hasluck, 1878-1920. David Shankland. Isis Press, 2004. University of Michigan. ISBN 975-428-280-3
- Ruches 1965: 161 "As arranged 150 Northern Epirote representatives of the resistance...and would join FNC in attacks against the Axis forces only if the latter and its allies recognizes the future dispotition of Northern Epirus under the Atlantic Chapter's principles of self-determination"
- Ruches 1965: 161 "these terms were formalized in the Konispolis agreement... of the albanian worker party".
- Ruches 1965: 162 "In spite of this uneasy agreement... The FNC secretly marked Sachines for liquidation".
- Ruches 1965: 161 "The Ballist campaign of extermination...", 162 "fierce battles took place between Northern Epirotes and a mixed force of Balli chetas, Albanian fascist militia units and Germans.
- James Petiffer. The Greek minority in the aftermatch of Communism. July 2001: "It was destroyed in vicious fighting with the German occupiers and the Albanian nationalist forces of the Balli Kombetar,"
- Ruches 1965: 163 In the presence of German officers... had passed that way."
- Ruches 1965: 163 "It was not until October... complete extinction".
- Ruches 1965: 132 "...as well as for the attrocities at Leskoviki and Tserka was the Ballist band of Safet Butka..."
- Pearson 1965: 305-306.
- Ruches 1965: 166 "Thus, when the Northern Epirotes were cleared out of the region of Chimarra, Valona and Santi Quaranta, the Partisans were able to take their places"
- Ruches 1965: 167 "Ten Germans among them the German colonel in command, fell into the hands of the Northern Epirotes..."
- Ruches 1965: 166-167
- Ruches 1965: 172 "The entire carnage , arson and imprisonment suffered by the hands of Balli Kombëtar...schools burned".
- James Pettifer - The Greek Minority in Albanian In the Aftermath of Communism (Conflict Studies Research Center)
-  On 10 April several gunmen crossed into Albania from Greece and stormed a border guard facility, killing two persons and seriously wounding three others before returning across the Greek border. A group calling itself the "Northern Epirus Liberation Front" (MAVI) claimed responsibility for the incident. It accused the Albanian Government of violating the rights of the ethnic Greek minority in Albania and berated Athens for not doing enough to support the minority. MAVI also issued a pamphlet last fall announcing the commencement of an "armed struggle" against Tirana and demanding, inter alia, the cessation of the alleged "colonization" of "Northern Epirus" -- the Greek name for southern Albania, which has a large ethnic Greek population -- by Albanians from the north. MAVI was the name of an ethnic Greek resistance group in Albania during World War II that operated first against the invading Italians and then against the Communists. Press reports state that the group was disbanded in the 1940s, although responsibility for the 1984 bombing of the Albanian Embassy in Athens was claimed in its name.
- http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/terror_94/euro.html#Albania ...press reports state that the group probably disbanded during the 1940s.
- Pearson, Owen (2006). Albania in Occupation and War: From Fascism To Communism 1940-1945. I.B.Tauris. p. 512. ISBN 978-1-84511-104-5.
- Ruches, Pyrrhus J. (1965). Albania's captives. Chicago: Argonaut. p. 213.