Friday, December 15, 2006

Montenegrin Police Refuse Albanians’ Constitutional Right to Assemble


PODGORICA, Montenegro, December 15, 2006 – A peaceful demonstration that was planned by the families of the prisoners was snubbed Thursday when the Montenegrin police stepped in and denied them access to the U.S. Consulate citing it would cause “security concerns” and contribute to “heavy traffic delays.”

The demonstration, which was organized by the families of the prisoners currently detained on illicit “terrorism” charges, was intended to heighten awareness of the cover-up operations that Montenegrin security forces are conducting during the discovery phase of the judicial proceedings. Since the formal charges were read on December 8th, the prosecutor’s office has mysteriously obtained more material evidence in the form of arms and explosive devices from locations unspecified. The evidence, which will undoubtedly be admitted during trial, has yet to be linked to the detainees, but family members fear the worst given that the conduct of the prosecutor’s office during discovery will go unregulated where any means of gathering “bogus” facts will be vigorously pursued to built the strongest possible case, without compliance to the rule of law.

In an attempt to underline these developments, the family members assumed their constitutional right to appeal to state and international agencies, but contrarily to democratic principles of assembly, were abruptly denied this freedom, which is a breach of Montenegro’s own constitution under several provisions:

Article 39 – Freedom of Assembly: “Citizens shall be guaranteed the right to peacefully assemble without prior approval, subject to prior notification of the competent authorities. Freedom of association and other peaceful assembly may be provisionally restricted by a decision of the competent authority in order to prevent a threat to public health and morals or for the protection of human lives and property.”

Article 17 – Right of Appeal: “Everyone is guaranteed the right to an appeal or some other legal remedy against the decisions deciding on his rights or interests based on the law.”

Article 38 – Freedom of Speech: “Freedom of speech and of public appearance shall be guaranteed.”

9 comments:

Mark said...

It's difficult to understand how/why Albanians can exhibit so much restraint while their constitutional and human rights are being stripped away from right under their noses.

A 3rd party will have to intervene here and put a stop to this free-wheeling behavior in Podgorica.

Tina Kalaj said...

NOT SO FAST -- There will be a demonstration tomorrow (Sunday) between 12-2:00 p.m. in front of the U.S. Consulate in Podgorica.

Family members of those in jail are calling upon everyone to join them.

They seem to have received permission to protest, now let's hope they don't get their asses beaten.

Free Malësia said...

the "Power in Movement," as Sydney Tarrow so eloquently put it, "...has an elusive power," where "ordinary people...exert power...[T]hey often succeed, but even when they failed, their actions set in motion important political, cultural, and international changes."

In his Introduction Tarrow provides a vivid example that many of us may be familiar with:

"International Heral Tribune, March 17, 1997. The lead story in today's 'Trib' covers the refusal of the European Union to send troops to Albania to deal with the consequences of the collapse of the financial scheme that bankrupted hundreds of thousands of citizens. The riots produced by the scandal sent hordes of protesters and thugs into the streets, emptying the armories of guns and tanks as the Albanian armed forces collapsed, and with them the government's legitimacy. The Trib's reporter notes the worrying parallel with the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. He might have also recalled that the Albanian collapse was triggered by a peaceful movement in Serbia earlier in the year, when hundreds of thousands of protesters forced the government to restore the opposition's local election victories" (p.1).

Although this may be a bit far-fethced in comparison to what we (or some of us) endeavor to happen in Podgorica, let us not be blindsided by the "power in movement." The only problem is the lack of collective action, which we are witnessing first hand in today's Malesia -- how to involve as high a proportion of a group as possible on behalf of its collective good (in this case the "collective good" is protesting the detention of the prisoners). A handful of people will not do it, and no one will notice if they are turned away. No press, no problem.

We know that the most important members of the group are the family members, who in this case have an inherent interst in the proceedings. The only problem is how to involve more members into joining the campaign to release the prisoners. Sadly enough there needs to be more incentives for others to join the "fight," as if there weren't enough already.

I recall a press release from the Albanian-American Association which quoted a State Department official (Charles English) when reflcting on the May Referendum and the input that Albanians had in it by saying, " Albanians had their opportunity to shape the Referendum as they wished and demand their rights be adhered to given the power of their vote...but they let it slip away." That must have been a shot in the heart, especially coming from the State Department.

It must be made clear, Montenegro wants as little press on this matter as possible. Without meachanisms to apply pressure on their actions and mangling of the processes, they will conduct their campaign as they wish. A protest brings attention to the issues at hand. Social movements of this kind are not only desired, but expected, and Balkan history as taught us that such movement always tend to make noice, one way or the other.

Tina Kalaj said...

I read Tarrow, excellent theory on social movements, I'm glad someone is making paralells with it and our movements.

I take that the reference to "collective action" is borrowed from Mancur Olson's "Logic of Collective Acton?" Another good reference, although a lot more can be applied to in this case.

Anonymous said...

Strategjia e Shqiptareve ndar Mal te Zi dohet gjindet mrrna nje Strategjia te Madhe (Grand Strategy) gjithe Shqiptare. Se pari, Shqiptaret rreth Tuzit ( Malesoret ) duhet me bashkpunua me Shqiptaret te tjere rajone (Ulqinit, Plav) nese mendojn me tregua forz politike. Atehere,dhe vetem athere bashkpunimi te Shqiptareve ndar Mal te Zi mund inkuadrohet me ne strategji te perbashket Shqiptare.

Rreth te burgosurit, Shqiptaret duhet me kerkua faktor nderkombetare rreth mbikyqres krejt proceses prej te dites te pare. Eshte ma se e sigurt, se malezesit kan gambua ne shume te menyra. Diaspora Shqiptare (Malesore) duhet me angaxhua advokatin nderkombetare jashte Mal te Zi e jo me mendua se advokatin malazese dohet te mbrojne vellazerit tone. Demonstrati jane plote te rregul por mesazhe eshte kryesor dhe ketu Shqiptaret po gjinden jopregaditur. Cka eshte mesazhe e demonstrateve te sotme? A pajtohen Amerikanet ne Konsulin e Pogorices me kyt mesazhe?

Tina Kalaj said...

Komenti tende esthte nje tautology

Anonymous said...

It's pathetic, but it's a start. The protest in front of the U.S. Consulate re the prisoners drew just a handful of people.

Why? Does Malesia consider the arrests legitimate?? Do they even care? If not, then why should the Diaspora?

Mark Juncaj said...

We talk about strategy, then talk more about "collective" action -- or better yet "bashkpunim" -- but when are we going to wake up and learn something, then make the appropriate adjustment while preventing the same recurring problems to re-surface again?

Albanians in other parts of Montenegro have not stepped-up and indicated that they are also exploits of the system; it seems that the Tuz region is the only sore spot where Albanians are suffering -- I say this because of the attention Malesia is getting from demonstrations, the prisoners issue and media coverage.

Where are the appeals from Ulqin, Plav, etc.? Most people don't even know what sociopolitical difficulties they are facing because nothing is filtering through the media, or worse yet, Albanians in these regions are showing no signs of persecution/discrimination, but more assimilation.

It would be an ideal situation if all Albanians unite, and with a single forward motion, present their grievances in a unified way, thus the results would be more effective.

To accomplish this feat has been made more difficult than it really is.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more Mark.