Sunday, October 01, 2006
Albanians in Detroit Protest Against the Brutality and Torture of Albanians in Montenegro!
DETROIT, MICHIGAN, September 29, 2006 – Today the Albanian-American Association “Malёsia e Madhe” in conjunction with the Albanian communities of Greater Detroit, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and New Jersey came together to protest the cruel and inhumane treatment of the ethnic Albanians of Montenegro, where just three weeks ago, in the Albanian-dominant region of Malёsia, Albanians became victims of brutal state aggression that has not been witnessed since the conflict in Kosova.
In the early morning of September 9th masked gunmen from the Montenegrin special police units were ordered, without warning, to break into the homes of several Albanian families while they slept, and arrest individuals that according to P.M. Milo Djukanovic “posed a threat to national security.” In fact, before the arrests were made and without examining one piece of evidence against them, Podgorica had already labeled these people as “terrorists”, an accusation that has caused havoc throughout the country.
During their round-up procedures, police severely punished those who questioned their motives by beating them in their own homes where no one was spared – the victims included the elderly and women. Included in the arrests were three U.S. citizens that were in the country visiting family.
In prison, the detainees were beaten and tormented on a daily basis. No access was given to family or outside sources, Montenegro controlled all the media reports, which continue to stress to this day that those arrested were planning to participate in terrorist acts against the state.
However, no evidence has been brought forth to this point, no witnesses to these accounts have been named, and every Albanian detained continues to deny their involvement in these fallacious accusations.
In the mean time, the detainees continue to be harassed and persecuted for crimes they did not commit.
The following is a list of the innocent prisoners being wrongfully charged for crimes they did not commit:
1. Lek Bojaj
2. Malot Bojaj
3. Mark Ivanaj
4. Gjergj Luca Ivezaj
5. Nikoll Lekocaj
6. Anton Pjetri Sinishtaj
7. Viktor Pjetri Sinishtaj
8. Viktor Luli Dreshaj
9 Gjon Nika Dreshaj
10. Kole Toma Dedvukaj, US citizen
11. Rrok Gjergji Dedvukaj, US citizen
12. Sokol Luca Ivanaj, US citizen
13. Pjeter Frani Dedvukaj
14. Gjon Frani Dedvukaj
15. Zef Kola Dedvukaj
What we do know is this – most of the suspects were either party supporters or candidates to the up-coming national and local elections that were held the very next day.
Most political polls and media forecasts were predicting a sweeping victory for the Albanian parties where they are the majority, and losses to the Montenegrin party in Malёsia would threaten the authoritarian grip Podgorica had on Albanians for so long.
As a result, and immediately following these polls, the vicious arrests took place and most analysts of the events agree were politically motivated.
With victory in the local elections of Tuz, Albanians for the first time will control their own political, social and economic affairs. This created a threat for Podgorica, because up until September 10th, the state controlled all local affairs that Albanians engaged in, for the most part denying Albanians social and political freedoms that are customary throughout Europe. This, according to local analysts, was an opportunity for Podgorica to generate chaos where the state would re-establish its control and influence on all aspects of life in Malёsia.
How soon Podgorica has forgotten that it was the Albanian vote that brought independence to this tiny country. In fact, the number of pro-independence votes in Malёsia alone made all the difference to secure Montenegro’s fate as an independent country.
Today Montenegro has carelessly accused these same people of terrorism, BUT realizes that these allegations are only as true as the motives behind those detained. There are no such motives, for if there were, then the recent visit of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday would have brought some of these incidents out.
However, in an effort to prove itself as an ally against the war on terror, Djukanovic mentioned nothing to Rumsfeld that Montenegro is undergoing any threats itself, leading to conclude that these accusations may have been premature and unjustifiable.
What Djukanovic did say is that Montenegro was prepared to "accept all responsibilities of a nation to join Europe".
One responsibility that he is not prepared to accept is following international standards on human rights and the protection of ethnic Albanians.
Any chance that Montenegro has to join the family of Europe and make strides toward Euro-Atlantic integration can only be achieved through incorporating its ethnic minorities into the socio-political mainstream and stop what Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA) recently referred to as “Quiet Ethnic Cleansing” in Montenegro.
By following the historical events in Montenegro throughout the 20th Century and into the 21st, it is clearly apparent that Podgorica has a vision for Albanians, the same vision that guided Slobodan Milosevic all through the 1990s:
1. Montenegro has made the political, social, economic and civil conditions for Albanians so deploring that they are forced to leave their homeland for opportunities abroad. (it should be no wonder why there are more Albanians in Detroit from Montenegro than in all of Montenegro).
2. Any opportunity that Albanians have to advance in society is coupled with their willingness to shed their ethnic culture and assimilate to the Slavic way of life.
This is a dangerous model for building a nation, one that the EU should recognize and address, especially now where we have witnessed a 3rd vision of Montenegro – to brutalize and intimidate an ethnic minority in an effort to introduce fear, confusion and chaos where the state portrays itself as the protector and legitimate actor for the people.
Along with Milosevic, Djukanovic has become the only president to have ever labeled Albanians as terrorists, thus introducing fear within this tiny state where the threat of inter-ethnic conflict and discrimination is all but evident.
The Albanian-American Association “Malёsia e Madhe” of Detroit has done its part and continues to lobby Congress to assess the volatile situation in a region that has been tabooed with ethnic wars, and now with the recent oppression of Albanians in Malёsia, Montenegro is threatening to bring back these ghosts of the past.
The US Congress has taken notice. In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and Congressman Sander Levin (D-MI) appealed that…
- “The United States must make clear to Podgorica that we expect them to abide by international standards of human rights, especially the treatment of ethnic minorities”;
- “We urge the Department of State and the new Ambassador to press the government of Podgorica to take concrete steps to ensure the equitable treatment of ethnic Albanians”;
- “The United States has a special responsibility to be an advocate for the rights of Albanians who are subject to discrimination and oppression in their native lands”.
On this day in Detroit, the Albanian-American Association “Malёsia e Madhe” along with 1500 supporters in attendance demand the following:
We appeal to the US government to keep its pressure on Montenegro and demand that theses innocent victims be immediately released and allowed to return home to their families.
We appeal to the European Union to seriously assess the inter-ethnic relations in Montenegro prior to any negotiations on associating Montenegro with the family of Europe.
We appeal to the Montenegrin government to stop tormenting its ethnic Albanians and respect the diversity of its minority population, and a reminder that without its vote would not have become the sovereign state it is today.
We also appeal to Milo Djukanovic to remember the lessons learned from the past 15 years in the Balkans, and that although a peaceful minority brought stability and independence, a disturbed minority can challenge that same stability if not respected.
And finally we appeal to YOU… Albanian-Americans and human rights activist throughout the Diaspora to take a stand and let yourselves be heard, that you will not tolerate the repressive behavior any longer and that we will continue our efforts to rightfully proliferate as an ethnic group and demand that our ancient homeland be free from oppression once and for all!
The Albanian American Association “Malёsia e Madhe” is committed and determined to work diligently and tirelessly until the Montenegrin government stops its discriminatory policies aimed at Albanians and their families, and demand that all imprisoned Albanians be immediately freed.
Posted by Conference Organizer at 2:13 PM