Gjilan, 17 January 2022
“January is the month of pain in the Albanian history”, Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Albin Kurti began his speech, at the Academy of Flaka 2022 in the framework of the 31st anniversary of the national manifestation of culture “Flaka e Janarit”. He mentioned the death of the national hero Skanderbeg in 1468, the assassination of Isa Boletini in 1916, the death of Ismail Qemajli in 1919, the fall of Rexhep Mala and Nuhi Berisha in 1984, the Recak massacre in 1999, all of which took place in January.
However, Flaka e Janarit is not only a reminder of the grief for the loss of our heroes in the fight for freedom, it is also the light of the fire illuminating the path of our generation and the generations to come to a bright future of our Homeland, stated said Prime Minister Kurti.
“As descendants of entire generations of the Albanian National Movement in Albanian lands, we constantly get energy from the fire that was kept burning with the life, work and death of the likes of Gjon Sereçi, Metush Krasniqi and the great Adem Demaçi with friends and many leaders of the Albanian National Movement, a light is shed upon our path from Flaka e Janarit of Jusuf, Kadri, Bardhosh, Rexhep, Nuhi, Zijah, Bajram, Afrim, Fadil and thousands of activists who fell in different eras until the Liberation War of Adem Jashari and the KLA and thousands of martyrs for the Freedom of Kosovo”, he added further.
Taking the activity of Jusuf and Bardhosh Gervalla and Kadri Zeka as an example in the democratic outside world through which the international public was informed regarding the oppression of the Albanians in the former Yugoslavia, he spoke about the important role of the Albanian diaspora which was becoming a force of great political, economic, and intellectual potential for the Albanian National Movement. This movement culminated in the crucial role of preparing, supplying and organizing the liberation war in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999.
The legacy of the Albanian Renaissance that only bringing pens and rifles together will bring freedom to the people, for the first time was turned into a reality in the Albanian lands by Jusuf, Kadri and Bardhosh with their friends, stated Prime Minister Kurti. Along with the remembrance of Jusuf, Kadri and Bardhosh, today and forever, we remember and honour all daughters and sons, men and women, girls and boys, who with their lives, kept the flame of Freedom burning for centuries. We must learn from their life, deeds and vow for the homeland, therefore all ordinary citizens and bearers of state functions, all of us must be united to carry out the legacy of our martyrs and heroes, emphasized in the end Prime Minister Kurti.
Afterwards, Prime Minister Kurti, accompanied by the Mayor of Gjilan, Alban Hyseni, visited the collective exhibition of visual art within the national manifestation of culture “Flaka e Janarit”.
The full speech of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Albin Kurti
Honourable families of heroes Zeka, Gervalla, Malaj, Berisha and Shemsiu,
Honourable families of the heroes and martyrs of the War for Freedom,
Honourable comrades-in-arms and accomplices of the heroes of the War for Freedom,
Honourable fighters and veterans of the Kosovo Liberation Army,
Honourable Mayor of Gjilan,
Honourable Ambassador of the Republic of Albania,
Honourable Director of the Albanological Institute,
Honourable Rector of the University of Gjilan,
Distinguished colleagues – members of the Government of the Republic of Kosovo,
Honourable members of the Assembly of the Republic,
Honourable citizens present,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear sisters and brothers,
January is the month of pain in the Albanian history. The death of the national hero Skanderbeg on 17 January 1468, the assassination of Isa Boletini on 23 January 1916, the death of Ismail Qemajli on 24 January 1919, the fall of Rexhep Mala and Nuhi Berisha on 11 January 1984, and the Recak massacre on 15 January 1999.
As descendants of entire generations of the Albanian National Movement in Albanian lands, we constantly get energy from the fire that was kept burning with the life, work and death oof the likes of Gjon Sereçi, Metush Krasniqi and the great Adem Demaçi with friends and many leaders of the Albanian National Movement, a light is shed upon our path from Flaka e Janarit of Kadri, Jusuf and Bardhosh, Rexhep and Nuhi, Zijah, Bajram, Afrim and Fadil and thousands of activists who fell in different eras until the Liberation War of Adem Jashari and the KLA and thousands of martyrs fallen for the Freedom of Kosovo.
The path of unity paved by Jusuf, Kadri and Bardhosh with friends, changed the course of the fight for freedom. Therefore, 17 January marks one of the most important days in the recent history of Kosovo.
17 January marks the 40th anniversary of the murder of three heroes of the people in Kadri, Jusuf and Bardhosh. However, this murder of the three sons of the people revived the patriotic spirit of an entire people. The Yugoslav UDB really hit the Albanian National Movement hard but revived the fighting spirit and raised our people to their feet.
The legacy of the Renaissance activists that only bringing pens and rifles together will bring freedom to the people, for the first time was turned into a reality in the Albanian lands by Kadri, Jusuf and Bardhosh with friends.
Organizing and leading of demonstrations and expatriates in the democratic outside world by Jusuf, Kadri and Bardhosh, through which the democratic world was informed regarding the oppression of Albanians in the former Yugoslavia, especially in Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro, overthrew the propaganda of the Yugoslavs of that time for the good and free life of the citizens, for the self-government of the constituent units, and the unity-brotherhood between the peoples. The Albanian diaspora was becoming a major force with political, economic, cultural and intellectual potential for the Albanian National Movement, which culminated with the crucial role of preparing, supplying and organizing the liberation war in Kosovo in the last two years of the past century.
Their uppermost work of uniting all political groups of national character, which operated at that time and before that in Kosovo and in all Albanian lands in the former Yugoslavia, for many years and decades, thus, turning all this into a single National Movement with extraordinary potential unknown until then, terrified the UDB. This spirit of all-Albanian unity in an Albanian National Movement in the former Yugoslavia was carried in all phases of later developments, until the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia and the Kosovo Liberation War.
Serbia and former Yugoslavia had realized that the hand and mind of these activists was filled with patriotic power for unification, since they dreamed and showed, wrote and acted for freedom. Together they showed and proved that Freedom, our future and our destiny, for all of us, for our people, are common, inseparable, thus they dreamed of freedom and equality of Albanians in their lands that remained outside the Republic of Albania.
They were staunch idealists, but also objective realists, convinced that we cannot fight separated and alone, but only united and together many friends we deserve and win Freedom. Therefore, as Jusuf said, they consciously lived free knowing that the moment of sacrifice would come for Kosovo, Albania and Albanianism.
The murder of the Movement’s three tribunes continued with the widespread campaign of arrests of members of secret patriotic organizations operating in Kosovo, and this could not have been a coincidence. Other murders and eliminations followed, Rexhep Mala and Nuhi Berisha the son of Kadri’s uncle, Afrim Zhitia and Fahri Fazliu, Ali Ajeti and Bajram Bahtiri and many others.
Therefore, we should never forget that before the last three wars in Kosovo, Macedonia and the Presheva Valley, there was another war, during the ’80s, there are more than 200 martyrs, Albanians engaged in Kosovo liberation organizations and those of other lands in the former Yugoslavia. In that decade over 80 percent of political prisoners throughout Yugoslavia were Albanians.
We, together with the remembrance of Jusuf, Kadri and Bardhosh, today and forever, will remember and honour all those daughters, men and women, girls and boys, who by sacrificing their lives kept the flame of Freedom burning for centuries.
We can do all the best for us, but that all can be lost if we don’t restore the trust of the people for a free and happy life in Kosovo. We must restore the spirit of unity and the strengthening of the state. This was the dream; this was the ideal and this is the life message of our heroes.
In one of Kadri Zeka’s many writings and speeches, he stressed the importance of general unity. I quote: “The difficult moments that our people are going through and the dangers that are posed to them make the need for the unification of all honest and patriotic Albanians even more urgent. Thus, only the unification of all Albanians regardless of religion, class or political views can save our homeland from the bloody claws of the enemies. Let us join our forces and hearts in this holy war, to fulfil the legacy of our ancestors. We cannot betray the blood and the message of our prominent patriots who did not spare even their last drop of blood for the freedom of the Arber land. But our people cannot forget and betray the blood of thousands of our brothers and sisters who these days are shedding profusely in the clashes with the Yugoslav chauvinists. They closed the University of Kosovo, which we had established with so much effort and sacrifice, and fired the vast majority of its professors, annulled all previous agreements between Albania and Kosovo that were related to the cooperation in the field of culture, art and education. They are firing many Albanian workers from the companies, as well as many secondary and primary school teachers. They have decided to change all textbooks related to language, history and other topics and they plan to take many more reactionary measures against our people”, these were said and written by Kadri Zeka.
Many funds were invested to prevent the broadcasting of Albanian Television from Tirana in Kosovo.
I was a child at that time, but I remember how the frequency of the Albanian Television showed a curtain on the screen, one resembling a chessboard with white and black square boxes and no picture. Whereas, the official policy led by Belgrade trumpeted across all news editions, threatening everywhere and anyone with the order to condemn the demonstrations.
Thus, this was the political and social context, in which after the demonstrations of 1981, Kadri, Jusuf and Bardhosh acted. It was very dangerous, very difficult but they were unstoppable.
If they could see and hear us, they would now certainly advise us and maybe even scold us for various issues, many works, but of course they would insist that we protect the territory and the sovereignty of Kosovo at all costs and by all means; and certainly, they would be at the forefront of the war to prevent the fragmentation and exploitation of Kosovo.
Therefore, we must keep these in mind during our daily work.
In his poem “I will return mother” Jusuf Gervalla closes with the following verse:
“Let my grandchildren build their homes
in the hearth where my voice was first heard”
Jusuf Gervalla knew that due to the path he was following it would be very difficult to return alive to his mother and motherland. We, the grandchildren of Jusuf Gervalla, Kadri Zeka, Bardhosh and many others like them, would have to build our common home.
Perhaps we can say that in this sense, you are not born grandson but you become a grandson by setting up home in the motherland and hearth where you return. This is the voice that echoes for the grandchildren who raise Kosovo as a loving home, as a Kosovo with justice for its people, a Kosovo that develops its productive potential, for a Kosovo free of corruption and crime, for a Republic of Kosovo with democracy, and freedom and union.
We must learn from their lives and deeds, from their vow for a better life in our free Homeland. They have taught us how to love the Homeland, they have taught us how to create and nurture the spirit of freedom and progress. Therefore, all of us, as ordinary citizens and holders of state functions, must be united in carrying out the legacy of our martyrs and heroes.
Flaka e Janarit is not only a reminder of the grief for the loss of our heroes in the fight for freedom, but also the light of the flame that illuminates the path of our generation and the generations to come for a bright future of our homeland.
Eternal glory to the life and work of Jusuf, Kadri, Bardhosh, Rexhep and Nuhi!
Glory to the heroes and martyrs of Freedom!