Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Albanian-American Association rebukes Freedom of Press restrictions in Montenegro


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


Anonymous said...

Të drejtat tona janë të zhdukur. Ne jemi të pafuqishëm

Anonymous said...

Yes, we need more letters, more protest and more of everything. Montenegro is determined to either assimilate Albanians or force them to flee their homelands: this is their ultimate goal!

Anonymous said...

I hope Montengrein authorities read this letter.

Anonymous said...

Duet me be me shume per shqiptaret ne Mal te Zi!

Anonymous said...

Mali Zi nuk mund të mbyllë shpirtërore tonë

Anonymous said...

Wow, are you all serious? They want to cut the only paper Albanians have to nothing?

What ever happened to equal rights and freedom of the press? This is clearly an attempt to shut down the media and strip Albanians of all means to communicate free press to its constituents.

What a damn shame. Shame on Montenegro! What do they want, all Albanians to read Slavic only?

This should lead to a revolt/rebellion!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Mali i zi nuk mundet te shkoj ne Evrope duke shkele nje popull.
Mirpo ne duhet te bejme me shume. Koha eshte ne favorin tone, vetem se kerkohet pune, bashkepunim dhe perkushtim.

Anonymous said...

E vetmja zgjidhje është LUFTA!!!

Ne nuk do të ulen më të qetë, ne duhet të bashkohena dhe të kërkojm më të madhe të drejtat e Zotit

Anonymous said...

As a friend of Albanians everywhere who currently lives in Tirana and travels to Podgorica regularly, I'd like to encourage you all to take a more active role in preserving the rights you claim to hold so dear. If Koha Javore is so important, fund it. As part of the transition from failed communism to open markets, the Montenegro government is getting out of the business of producing newspapers. A great idea. I've been to Troy, MI and seen the huge achievements of the Montenegrin Albanian community there. The unveiling of the Skanderbeg statue in the presence of President Moisiu was fantastic. You can achieve far more with a little hard work and investment than you can with your empty rhetoric of war. There is no quicker way to cause the Montenegrins to discriminate even more against you than to advocate or engage in violence. Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Good point Tirana! Those aggressive tactics is exactly what Podgorica wants to hear. And believe me; they use that to their advantage every time. I like the funding thoughts, but with any state proclaiming to be adhering to democratic principles and that has considerable minorities within its borders, the state is obliged to fund programs in efforts to sustain ethnic cultures, traditions, language, etc. And this goes along the lines of media.

KJ is the only Albanian-Montenegrin newspaper in that country, and it is a sister-paper of the Montenegrin Pobjeda (The NY Times of Montenegro). I can understand limiting production of the paper due to economic reasons, but to totally eliminate it would be contrary to what Podgorica claims it is – a country equal on all fronts. Shutting the paper down would be shutting Albanians up, plain and simple.

Funding needs to come from the state institution, otherwise the Urban municipality of Tuz could have contributed, but because the budget is disproportionally distributed, there is no money for such action. And this all comes full circle – rights being violated on several levels affect the other. I assure you that pensions and teacher’s salaries are next.

Tom said...

Isn't Koha Javore a STATE-sponsered newspaper? That doesn't exactly scream "freedom of the press" anyway, so why all the fuss?

Albanians should pool their money together and start their own independent daily, or weekly, newspaper. Key word: independent.

Anonymous said...

Yes, they did/do get funding from the state, and that is why the state can taketh away.

No Albanian individuals/groups have the means of supporting newspaper in Montenegro, and even if they did, they would spend the money on other matters I am sure.

The Diaspora should support/fund an Albanian newspaper in Montenegro. I completely am for this. What better way to donate money than to expand literature in your mother-tongue throughout Albanian-populated regions?

What do you all think?

Anonymous said...

I, Simon Lulgjuraj, donate $100 US dollars.

Anonymous said...

“[t]he right to establish newspapers and other public information media, without approval, ….shall be guaranteed.”

I believe Albanians HAVE a right to establish newspapers ... their own, and fully funded by themsleves. This is a state paper (in essence) and I agree with the blogger above, "the state can taketh away."

“[e]veryone shall be obliged to preserve natural and cultural heritage of general interest. The state shall protect the national and cultural heritage.”

The state protects their freedom to have these inherent rights, but I am certain that it doesn't extend to mean state-sponsored newspapers.

In short, Albanians are afforded these rights, they just have to get off their asses and get them.

By the way, how independent is this freedom of speech/expression if the state control what you print? And there have been many occasions that Koha Javore could not publish news that did not meet Podgorica's guidelines.

I say we follow the Obama blueprint: Let Koha Javore file for bankruptcy and restructure (using private funds from Albanians, by Albanians, for Albanians!!!!!)

~ Tina

Tom said...

"I say we follow the Obama blueprint: Let Koha Javore file for bankruptcy and restructure (using private funds from Albanians, by Albanians, for Albanians!!!!!)"

Market capitalist fundamentals is HARDLY a blueprint of the Obama administration.

The best case scneario here would be for an independent group to buy out the government's stake in the newspaper. Like the poster stated previously, the diaspora should get together and do something. After all, it's not the government's responsibility to provide every ethnic group with their own newspaper, so instead of begging them to continue funding it, take matters into your own hands.

Anonymous said...

"Market capitalist fundamentals is HARDLY a blueprint of the Obama administration."

Perhaps we would have benefitted more by defaulting to the wits of a Palin administration...?


Anonymous said...

statement by FORCA ...

"We Have to defend Koha Javore"

Representatives of Forca appealed to their colleagues from Albanian political parties, the civil sector and intellectuals to raise their voices against the abolishment of weekly Koha javore.
This party believes that the decision to stop the issuing of the only weekly in Albanian language as a separate edition and to start its issuing as an appendix to daily Pobjeda is discriminating. They believe that reducing the weekly Koha javore represents an attack to Albanians’ right to free informing and opposes democratic standards.

Anonymous said...

Why don't those of you with your exceptional ideas call the reporters at Koha Javore and express your ideas directly to them?

Tel: 081/247-799, 247-734
fax: 081/247-674
e-mail: kohajavore@cg.yu

Or contact the sister-paper POBJEDA:

Predsjednik borda direktora
Radoica Luburić
Izvršni direktor
Dragoljub Šarović
Odgovorni urednik
Andrija Racković
Zamjenik odgovornog urednika
Zoran Darmanović
Dežurni urednik
Podgorička hronika
Sektor za marketing
Gorica Vojinović
020/409-501, 020/409-590
Odjeljenje prodaje i distribucije tiraža
Služba oglasa
Internet odjeljenje

Anonymous said...

If the State of Montengro has funds for many slavic newspaper, why are they so stingy about a few $$$ that Koha Javora needs to be published? Or maybe is something esle in question here?1?

Anonymous said...

Your latter thoughts are better suited

Shut down a paper while/because you can (because you own it).

Muffle their mouths, twist their words, and fuck with their minds.

Why, who's going to stop them?

Anonymous said...

People in remote third world villages manage to start their own newspapers. They had private newspapers in colonial America in the early 1700s!

You're telling me Albanians in Montenegro can't publish their own paper if they want one?

Why would we want a state-sponsored newspaper anyway?