Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Albanian-American Association rebukes Freedom of Press restrictions in Montenegro
ALBANIAN AMERICAN ASSOCIATION “MALËSIA E MADHE”
SHOQATA SHQIPTARO-AMERIKANE “MALËSIA E MADHE”
May 18, 2009
United States Representative United States Senator
The Honorable Sander M. Levin The Honorable Carl M. Levin
1236 Longworth House Office Building 269 Russell Office Building
Washington, DC 20515 U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510-2202
Dear Messrs. Levin:
As president of the “Malesia e Madhe” Association (a/k/a the “Great Highlands”), a non-profit Michigan entity organized to assist the ethnic Albanian population in Montenegro, I write this letter to express my objections regarding certain actions taken by the government in Montenegro in connection with recent plans to reduce or eliminate the only state sponsored Albanian language periodical named “Koha Javore” (the “Weekly Times”) published in Montenegro. As you maybe aware, Albanians consist of 7 % of the total population of Montenegro.
The Montenegrin government recently proposed either to (1) reduce the Koha Javore’s edition from approximately 15 pages to four, or (2) to completely eliminate Koha Javore’s publication. This proposal can only amount to censorship. In our opinion, this proposal is in violation of, inter alia, the Montenegrin Constitution and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Specifically, it is our opinion that this proposal violates Article 49, 78 and 79 of the Montenegrin Constitution. Article 49, in pertinent part, states that “[t]he right to establish newspapers and other public information media, without approval, ….shall be guaranteed.”
Articles 78 and 79 in principle pertain to minority rights. Albanians are classified as a minority in Montenegro’s Constitution. Article 78 states that “[e]veryone shall be obliged to preserve natural and cultural heritage of general interest. The state shall protect the national and cultural heritage.” Article 79, in pertinent part, states minorities have “the right to exercise, protect, develop and publicly express national, ethnic, cultural and religious particularities; . . the right to information in their own [Albanian] language.”
As you can imagine, the Albanians in Montenegro are rightfully alarmed and disturbed with this proposal as it acts to restrict, and infringes upon Albanian’s rights. The Albanians will be forced to read newspapers written in Montenegrin or a language they are not fluent in. It is our belief that the Montenegrin government is using this proposal as a vehicle to “assimilate” Albanians into being “Montenegrin,” which is in direct violation of the aforementioned Constitutional provisions.
As might be expected, Albanians have come to trust Koha Javore for objective news reporting, opinions and periodicals that affect the life of daily Albanian Montenegrin citizens. Thus, the lack of an Albanian language newspaper will act as a direct censorship of the Albanians “right to information in their own language.”
As you are keenly aware, Albania and Albanians are America’s staunchest and strongest supporters throughout the globe because of, among other things, the United States’ commitment to democracy, the rule of law, and support of minority rights.
In closing, we kindly request that you investigate and apply pressure on Montenegro to rescind these proposals and ensure that Albanians in Montenegro are guaranteed fundamental rights, including the “right to information in their own language.” The Albanian Americans of Michigan, as always, appreciate your unbridled support for these causes.
Thank you for your attention.
Gjergj (George) Ivezaj
Council of Europe
Amnesty International USA
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF)
U.S. Department of State
Ministry for Human and Minority Rights Protection, Montenegro
Posted by Conference Organizer at 9:24 PM