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How Myths and Truths Started a War

Julie A. Mertus (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 400 pages
ISBN: 9780520218659
August 1999
$31.95, £26.95
Julie Mertus provides one of the first comprehensive looks at the explosive situation in Kosovo, where years of simmering tensions between Serbs and Albanians erupted in armed conflict in 1998. In a profound and detailed study of national identity and ethnic conflict, Mertus demonstrates how myths and truths can start a war. She shows how our identity as individuals and as members of groups is defined through the telling and remembering of stories. Real or imagined, these stories shape our understanding of ourselves as heroes, martyrs, conquerors, or victims. Once we see ourselves as victims, Mertus claims, we feel morally justified to become perpetrators.

Based on a series of interviews conducted in Kosovo, Serbia proper, and Macedonia, this book is one of the first extended treatments of the years leading to war in Kosovo. Mertus examines the formation of Serbian national identity, and closely scrutinizes the hostilities of the region. She shows how myth and experience inform the political ideologies of Kosovo, and explores how these competing beliefs are created and perpetuated. This sobering overview of the region provides a window into a complex struggle whose repercussions reach far into the international community.
Preface: Understanding Kosovo Through "Truths"
1. The 1981 Student Demonstrations
2. "Impaled with a Bottle": The Martinovic Case, 1985
3. "A Shot Against Yugoslavia: The "Paracin Massacre," 1987
4. The Poisoning of Albanian School Children, 1990
5. Step One for NGOs: The Root Cause of Conflict
Postscript, 1997: A Wall of Silence
Postscript, 1998: Kosovo in Conflict
Julie A. Mertus is Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at American University. She is the coeditor of The Suitcase: Refugees' Voices from Bosnia and Croatia (California, 1997), coauthor of Open Wounds: Human Rights Abuses in Kosovo (1994), and the author of Local Action/Global Change (1999). Mertus's articles on the Kosovo crisis have appeared in major newspapers.
"Julie Mertus has written the most informed, sophisticated, and convincing account of the struggle over the future of Kosovo. Anyone who wants to understand the ongoing Kosovo ordeal, or for that matter the whole class of ethnic conflicts, cannot do better than to read and study this fine book."—Richard Falk, Princeton University

"An important and original contribution to the literature about the break up of the former Yugoslavia. Julie Mertus reveals the competing narratives, the storytelling by which ethnic Serbs and Kosovo Albanians define themselves and their relationship to one another."—Eric Stover, Director, Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley

"Julie Mertus leads us on a fascinating journey through history, myths, identities, and ideologies deep into the thickets of ethnicity and politics that have led to the bloody conflict between Albanians and Serbs. Yet the author leaves us not with despair over the fatality of ethnic conflict, but rather with an understanding of possible ways to resolve what seems unresolvable. This is the clearest and most affecting account of the Kosovo war."—Ronald Grigor Suny, University of Chicago


The initial version of this book was completed in August 1998 and revised in the fall and winter of 1998-1999--before the NATO bombing of Kosovo in March 1999. The "hot spring" of 1999 might not have occurred if the international community had heard the voices in the stories that appear in this book.

As of this writing, the international community faces a terrible quandry. Milosevic has not moved one step closer toward signing a peace agreement. The very people NATO wants to help, Kosovo Albanians and anti-Milosevic Serbs, have been placed in great danger. Many have been murdered, tortured, or disappeared, including leading human rights and humanitarian activists and independent journalists. Many more have fled the country or are in hiding.

The absence of international monitors in Kosovo has given a green light to Serb "cleansing" of Albanians. A sea of humanity is headed toward Kosovo's borders. They are nearly all Albanians. When Kosovo Albanians cross the border, Serbs force them to leave their passports and identity papers behind. They will probably be unable to return without proof of citizenship. If bombing ends, the ethnic cleansing will only intensify. But if bombing continues and no other action is taken, the door-to-door slaughter of Albanians in Kosovo will also continue.

This book explains how the international community created this untenable situation by failing to support the Albanians in their initial passive resistance to brutal Serbian repression. Only after the world community failed to respond to their nonviolent quest for freedom did Albanians take up arms. Although the social movement that supports this quest comprises diverse ideologies, it is united by a single drive—the quest for freedom from oppression. Even defeated, Kosovo Albanians will never give up this dream. Unless an acceptable solution is found soon, Albanian efforts to achieve autonomy or independence for Kosovo will destabilize the region for years to come.

For over ten years, Serbian authorities brutally repressed Kosovo Albanians. The vast majority of Albanians responded with a campaign of "passive resistance." Only after the world community failed to respond to their nonviolent attempts at reform did Albanians take up arms. Plans for armed resistance in Kosovo came to the fore as a desperate attempt of Albanians seeking world recognition of their plight. Ultimately, however, the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA) was propelled by the center of the Albanian social movement, not by the radical fringes. Even when many Albanians still wanted to believe in passive resistance, by the middle of the summer of 1998 nearly every Albanian in Kosovo supported the KLA.

This is the main point most analysts miss: The war in Kosovo is propelled by a social movement with diverse ideologies but one main drive—the quest for freedom from their oppressors. Even if defeated today, Kosovo Albanians will never give up this dream. Serbs cannot simply make them go away. Unless an acceptable solution is found today, the Albanian efforts to achieve autonomy or independence for Kosovo will destabilize the region for years to come.

--Baltimore, March 29, 1999

Chapter One

The 1981 Student Demonstrations

Laying the Foundation: 1971-1981

When reforms against repression begin, repression becomes less tolerable: so goes the Machiavellian proposition.(1) Nowhere does this maxim hold more true than in Kosovo. From 1971 to 1981, Albanians in Kosovo progressively gained rights and, in the process, experienced unparalleled progress in the fields of education, science and culture. With the opening of the University of Pristina in 1969, Kosovars had access to Albanian-language instruction in primary, secondary and university classes;(2) institutes for Albanian literature and culture were opened; and cultural ties between Albania and Kosovo were permitted, leading to an influx of books from Albania to Kosovo, the exchange of visiting professors and even the planning of joint film productions.(3) Although not perfect, the national "key" system--akin to proportional affirmative action--assured Albanian representation on managerial boards of state enterprises, in civil service and in provincial and federal government. During 1978-79, the vice-president of the federal Presidency (which after the death of Tito became a collective body) was a Kosovo Albanian, Fadil Hoxha, making him the highest-ranking Kosovo Albanian ever in Yugoslavia. Within the framework of Yugoslavia, then, Kosovo Albanians had never achieved so much in such a short time.

At what appeared to be the zenith of Kosovo Albanian achievements, those who seemed to be benefiting the most from the reforms, the young intellectuals, decided to take action to push for even greater change. The improved conditions for Albanians in Kosovo had created a better educated, healthier and more ambitious population. But also, by opening the door for hope, the improvements had tapped discontent.(4) As a result, the decade of 1971-1981 was characterized by "a growing confidence among local Albanian leaders, who felt uneasy under Serbian 'paternalism,' as well as an increasing number of mass protests, demonstrations, and riots that rejected it unconditionally."(5)

The staging of Albanian demonstrations at this time period confounded Serbs. After all, things seemed to be going so well. "Minority rights of Albanians in Kosovo until 1989 were guaranteed beyond and in excess of international standards," legal scholar Vladan Vasilijevic notes.(6) The sentiment among Serbs was along the lines of: "We had given them everything, even their own university, their own government."(7) But Albanians did not want to be in the position of being given anything. Despite the reforms, notes Sami Repishti, a U.S.-based academic originally from Kosovo, "the feeling of dependency on Serbia . . . remained a major source of friction and deep dissatisfaction."(8) Moreover, Kosovo Albanians felt a personal affront at not being considered a "nation" but only a "nationality," a lower status under the nomenclature of Yugoslavia. The insult of Yugoslavia not considering Albanians a "nation" could not be compensated with a university, nor with a provincial government.

In 1981, Yugoslavia was composed of six nations--Slovenes, Montenegrins, Croats, Serbs, Macedonians and Muslims--and all the rest of the groups of people were considered "nationalities" or "ethnic minorities." "Muslims"--ethnic Slavs who had converted to Islam during Ottoman rule--were the last group to be given the status of a nation (in 1968), having been allowed the appellation on the federal census in 1961. The term "Muslim" did not refer only to religion; the practicing of Islam was neither necessary nor sufficient for inclusion in this group. (For example, Muslim Albanians were not considered to be part of this national grouping of Muslim.) Rather, "Muslim" referred to a group defined by a bundle of markers of a distinctiveness: language, culture, economic life, real and imagined history and a sense of territoriality.(9) Albanians living in Yugoslavia pointed out that they had all those markers. There were more Albanians in Yugoslavia than there were Montenegrins; why should the latter be a nation while the former were not? The only reason, it seemed, was that they were considered to have a nation elsewhere--Albania--and thus they could not "have two." Some feared that the promotion of an Albanian nation within Yugoslavia would challenge the country's territorial integrity. Promotion of a Muslim identity in Bosnia-Herzegovina was thought to help serve as a buffer against territorial claims from Croatia and Serbia and, thus, promote the continued existence of Yugoslavia, but promotion of an Albanian Kosovar identity was viewed as a threat to Yugoslav unity. Some Albanian commentators suggest that Yugoslavia, being at its core a Slavic country, would never give a non-Slavic population, such as the Albanians, the status of a "nation."(10)

As a mere "nationality," Kosovo Albanians did not have the right to their own republic. The heart of the political tensions in Kosovo rested in this denial of republic status.(11) Nevertheless, constitutional changes introduced in 1969, 1971 and 1974 gave Kosovo greater autonomy and the ability to forge direct links with federal authorities.(12) Under the 1974 Constitution for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Kosovo was considered an "autonomous province" of Serbia.(13) This made Kosovo a "quasi-republic," with a government, constitution, police, courts, school system, industry and economic institutions--almost everything except the right to secede from the federation, a right that the full-status republics possessed. As Albanian political leader Azem Vllasi has observed, "Kosovo functioned as a republic in the federal state of Yugoslavia and we were not [a republic] only by name."(14) But for Kosovo Albanians, almost was not good enough. The rights of the territorial unit known as "the Autonomous Province of Kosovo" were still at least formally tied to the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia.(15) Shedding every trace of dependence on Serbia became Kosovo Albanians' primary goal.

Albanian national consciousness, like other forms of national consciousness in the Balkans and elsewhere, was formed in large part in relationship to a real and imagined historical past, as written, told and shared. In Yugoslavia, the line was thin between permissible exploration of culture and condemned "counterrevolutionary" behavior, "hostile propaganda," or acts deemed to be "incitement of national hatreds." Still, by and large, the rules of the game were well known.(16) Kosovo Albanians pushed the envelope when in 1978 they held a series of festivities commemorating the League of Prizren centennial. The League, the primary symbol of the Albanian "national awakening," had called in 1878 for a unified Albanian state and full autonomy for all Albanian-inhabited territories in the Ottoman empire.(17) To mark this seminal event, nearly every predominately Albanian town in Kosovo held celebrations of Albanian literature, song and history. Local and federal authorities tolerated the gatherings, hoping that they would provide some kind of catharsis. However, leaflets printed and distributed in connection with these events were condemned as illegal, and in some places verbal confrontations erupted between Albanians and police.(18)

The League of Prizren events, the blossoming of Albanian literature and folk festivals, and the flying of the Albanian flag alongside the Yugoslav (at a time when the flying of a Serbian or Croatian flag would have been met with a jail sentence)--all of these steps were seen by many Yugoslavs as unwise indulgence of Albanian nationalism. Indeed, some commentators have described Yugoslavia's attitude toward expressions of national sentiment by Kosovo Albanians during 1971-1981 as "laissez-faire."(19) However, a review of arrest records at the time show that the authorities were far from indifferent. The treatment of nationalist demands in Kosovo, Sabrina Ramet notes, "exemplifie[d] conflict resolution in communist Yugoslavia: jail the troublemakers but grant their non-disintegrative demands."(20)

>From 1971 to 1981, public expression of political dissent was suppressed in all parts of Yugoslavia,(21) but the greatest percentage of political prisoners were Kosovo Albanians.(22) The decade began with a stiff warning to those with national or "reformist" sentiments: the silencing of dissent in Croatia in 1971, when Tito removed the reformist leadership of the League of Communists.(23) Taboo subjects included nationalism (and any criticism of the unity of different ethnic groups), criticism of the structure of government of Yugoslavia, including the operations of the League of Communists and its leadership, and any challenges to basic domestic or foreign policies.(24) Although some national cultural events were tolerated, such as the League of Prizren events, the authorities maintained discretion to control and prosecute anything deemed to be organized national activity and, in particular, any acts considered separatist.

During the 1970s, several trials were held in which Albanians were convicted for plotting the secession of Kosovo from Yugoslavia.(25) Yugoslav security forces announced at this time that they had discovered at least seven underground Albanian separatist organizations operating in Kosovo and two in Macedonia; the purported leaders, usually students at the University of Pristina, were arrested and given lengthy prison sentences. Student demonstrations in Pristina in 1974 led to at least 100 arrests.(26) According to official Yugoslav reports, between 1974 and 1981, at least 618 Albanians were accused of nationalist and irredentist activities in Kosovo; of these, 89 received prison sentences ranging from one to fifteen years, and another 503 were charged for the lesser offense of making nationalist statements.(27)

Many of the Albanians who were arrested, like other political prisoners at the time, were harshly treated: "Albanians were beaten into insanity, had their arms and legs broken under torture, were forced to conduct prolonged hunger strikes and were shot inside solitary cells. The worst case was registered in the Idrizovo prison [Skopje, Macedonia] . . . , when 'six Albanians were beaten by prison guards with twisted whipcords for refusing to go to solitary cells.' Two prisoners died; the other four, badly maimed, saw their jail sentences increased."(28) In the Idrizovo case, a federal investigation resulted in the imprisonment of the prison director and five guards.(29) Albanian prisoners staged massive riots in 1978 to protest alleged mistreatment of Albanian prisoners and discriminatory behavior by Serbian prison guards.(30)

The rising expectations of Kosovo Albanians concerning the strengthening of their national rights were both helped and hindered by publicity surrounding state retaliation against Albanian political expression. Any Kosovo Albanian who voiced any political opinion whatsoever risked being branded as an "irredentist," a person who sought to unite all the members of his or her ethno-national group in an autonomous state. Arrests of Kosovo Albanians served to create martyrs for the Albanian community. Many of those fined or arrested were not in fact irredentists but rather small time graffiti writers or fourth-hand readers of underground publications who happened to get caught.(31) Nevertheless, these unlucky ones took their place among real and imagined Kosovo Albanian leaders as the emerging heroes.

On the other hand, repression drove the Albanian national movement, like other national movements at the time, underground. Organized in highly secretive cell-like structures, with "webs" of individuals reporting to each other in a fashion that minimized their knowledge of even each other's identity,(32) the movement could hardly be populist. Cells were intentionally kept small to minimize the possibility of infiltration, so "recruitment" was not a key goal; communication among movement members was limited; movement propaganda of any type, from crude fliers to the hand-to-hand circulation of mimeographs, was considered risky and thus restricted. Under such conditions, planning a strike or demonstration was extremely difficult and entailed great risk.(33)

In addition to political crimes, Kosovo Albanians were increasingly accused of other crimes against Serbs and Montenegrins, such as breaking up Serbian and Montenegrin gravestones, defacing the property of the Orthodox church and physically assaulting Serbian priests, nuns and farmers. With accusations far outnumbering investigations or convictions for crimes, Serbs accused the local Albanian police and other Kosovar authorities of failing to prosecute crimes against Serbs and Montenegrins.(34) While not agreeing with all of the accusations, even today's leader of Albanians in Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova, has admitted that Albanians did not "behave as they should have" and that "some people were out of control" during thisperiod.(35)

ational tensions in Kosovo, accusing Kosovar politicians of withholding information from them. Some commentators have alleged that Kosovo Albanian party leaders were operating in concert with the accused separatists, or that at the very least they had sympathy for their actions. Others suggest that provincial leaders quieted any news of Albanian-Serb conflict for fear that publicity would lead to a crackdown and a lessening of their power. And still others suggest that no cover-up existed at all: If Belgrade did not know, it was because Belgrade did not want to know. Indeed, information did exist about the purported separatist groups and their leaders. Provincial leaders and the Albanian-language daily Rilindja (an organ of the provincial party) had explicitly warned about the growing problem posed by Albanian separatist groups.(36) The Belgrade dailies continually quoted Kosovo's provincial party chief Mahmut Bakali as saying that Kosovo was under control--that "the efforts of the enemies have not found wide support among the masses . . . [and] that devotion of the Albanians to Tito's Yugoslavia is durable and indestructible."(37) Yet the same dailies also ran articles warning about separatist activities and impending doom in Kosovo.(38)

The international press also began speculating about the fate of Kosovo. In April 1980, Agence France Press quoted Tito as saying that "Kosovo is now the biggest problem confronting Yugoslavia," and Le Monde in May 1980 speculated, "Whatever the future may be, the mere existence of a Yugoslav Albania in Kosovo, bordering on Tirana's Republic of Albania, will, as a matter of course, present serious problems in the not too distant future."(39)

Dissatisfaction among Kosovars was compounded by the dire economic situation in Kosovo. Although development aid was pumped into Kosovo through a federal fund for development of underdeveloped areas at a rate far higher than in any part of the country (see table 1.1),(40) the economic ventures in the province had little impact on the quality of people's lives. Instead of boosting the province's industrial output and creating jobs for workers, the funds had been directed disproportionately into the administrative sector of the bureaucracy and to heavy industry dinosaurs. As a result, while the pockets of the well-connected had been lined with federal cash, the general population of Kosovo saw little improvement in everyday life. One quarter of all employed Kosovars were government employees,(41) but few jobs existed outside the government sector. The unemployment rate in Kosovo was the highest in the country--27.5 percent--compared to a mere 2 percent unemployment in Slovenia, the most prosperous republic, the same year.(42)

Meanwhile, conditions in other federal units improved, widening the development gap between Kosovo and all other republics. The per capita income in Kosovo declined from 48 percent of the Yugoslav average in 1954, to 33 percent in 1975, to 27 percent by 1980.(43) According to calculations by Serbian economists, Albanians continued to earn less than members of other ethnic or national groups; moreover, Albanians earned far less in Kosovo and in Serbia proper than in any other part of Yugoslavia (see table 1.2).

The regional disparities were related to "a complex interplay of economic, political, social, cultural and historic factors, which made the officially declared goal of reduction of the enormous inherited economic disparities and social inequities among Yugoslav nations very difficult to achieve."(44) The gaps between the more developed federal units (Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia) and the less developed units continued to widen, and within the group of "less developed" units Kosovo progressively slipped farther and farther to the bottom. In 1947, the level of development of the more developed parts of Yugoslavia was twice as high as that of Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 1980, the level of development for Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina had grown to two-and-a-ha lf times that of Kosovo, while the level for Yugoslavia as a whole was four times Kosovo's.(45)

The discrepancies between more and less developed regions in Yugoslavia can be seen in a comparison of basic indicators for regional development, as measured by GMP (Gross Material Product), GMP per capita and average growth of GMP. Kosovo lagged behind the country average in all of these measures. (See table 1.3.) In addition, although Kosovo and the other less developed areas significantly increased their fixed assets per worker, the return on the investment was low. In her analysis of data from this period, Vesna Bojicic has found that although the investment ratio was higher in Kosovo than the Yugoslav average, "in order for less developed parts of the country to achieve the same economic performance as more developed republics, the investment input had to be significantly higher." Once the data on population growth is added to the equation, "a vicious circle of poverty emerges, with per capita income in poorer areas growing only slowly, from a low base."(46) Some analysts point to the uneven regional development in Yugoslavia as a critical factor in the country's disintegration.(47) With respect to Kosovo, these disparities constituted one of several factors fanning national tensions.

Another aspect of the economic situation that exacerbated national tensions was the inferior position of Kosovo Albanians in comparison with the Kosovo Serbian minority, whose proportion of the total population in Kosovo had fallen from 23.6 percent in 1961 to 13.2 percent in 1981. Fred Singleton has observed a colonialist phenomena at play in Kosovo. Within Kosovo, Serbs still held a disproportionate share of the senior positions in the professions, especially in technology, medicine and law. "The situation bore a resemblance to the position of many newly independent Third World countries," Singleton notes, "where posts requiring high technical qualifications were still held by expatriate Europeans whilst the new universities became centers for the propagation of the national culture."(48)

The discrepancies Singleton mentions are not readily discernible from employment statistics. In 1980, the number of Albanians among the employed population of Kosovo (64.9 percent of total employed) was 12.6 percentage points lower than their share of the population (77.5 percent), while the number of Serbs in Kosovo with jobs (25.6 percent of the total employed) was 12.4 percentage points higher than their share of the population.(49) On the other hand, because more Serbs were seeking jobs, the Serbs' share of the unemployed in Kosovo was consistently higher relative to their share of the population. In sum, the economic situation in Kosovo was bad for everyone. (See also table 1.4.)

Who is to blame for Kosovo's economic woes of unemployment, inflation, food shortages, housing crises, weak infrastructure and poverty? The highest ranking Kosovar economist, Riza Sapunxhiu, who in 1981 was vice-president of the economy, contends that any criticism about the state of economy in Kosovo in 1981 was unwarranted. "We were doing everything we could," he says. "People were impatient."(50) Similarly, although he believes that economic reforms could have been improved, Dragomir Vojnic attributes much of the developmental difference between the regions to a "historical inheritance" that could not easily disappear.(51) The people who lived in Kosovo, however, looked for a target for their frustrations. Kosovo Albanians were most likely to blame federal or republic officials for historically neglecting the region and for pursing poor economic plans. In particular, as some economists have pointed out, "the developed regions had more manufacturing industry, with less developed regions predominately basic-industry oriented."(52) For three decades, Kosovo had produced raw materials that were then processed in Serbia proper and elsewhere, making Kosovo dependent on other parts ofYugoslavia for finished goods.(53)

In addition to the economic planning, many Serbs pointed to the waste, inefficiency and incompetence of the Albanian bureaucrats who took over in the 1970s, as well as the large Albanian family structure that greatly taxed social resources.(54) Commentators on both sides say the situation was made worse by the "exodus of experts" from Kosovo, mainly Serbs and Montenegrins who moved to other parts of Yugoslavia in the late 1960s and early 1970s after Rankovic's reign ended.(55) Serbs most often contend that the experts had been forced out due to the discriminatory policies of Kosovo Albanians.(56) Albanians contend that the emigration resulted from "the loss of privileges they had enjoyed and their reluctance to accept the equality of the Albanians."(57)

Instead of combating the economic disparities, the University of Pristina offered only a palliative and ultimately destructive alternative. Instead of immediately joining the ranks of the unemployed, the best and brightest of Kosovo could attend the university, where their expectations would increase and sense of self would develop; but upon graduation they would still not find a job in their field. University graduates could find little work in Kosovo apart from "the inflated administrative machine and in the cultural institutions which had also been the recipients of [federal] funds which ought to have been spent on projects of greater economic relevance."(58) Opportunities in the rest of Yugoslavia were even worse, especially for those who were educated only in the Albanian language. Meanwhile, the resentment of the Serb and Montenegrin population toward the numerous Albanian students grew; the students were accused of monopolizing the few opportunities that did exist and of overburdening republic and federal coffers that had to foot the bill for their education.(59)

The problem was compounded by the chosen courses of study at the university. Instead of training students for technical careers in a modern age, the university specialized in liberal arts, in particular in Albanian literature and culture.(60) Competition for the few jobs that existed in this field was fierce. Also, lacking a sufficient supply and breadth of Albanian-language textbooks in these subjects, the high schools and universities imported texts from Albania. Given Albania's different ideological bent, these texts necessarily included ideological and philosophical undercurrents contrary to those produced in Yugoslavia. Tito had originally envisioned the cultural exchange between Kosovo and Albania as a bridge along which Yugoslavia would be able to exert influence over Albania. For the most part, however, there was only one-way traffic from Albania to Kosovo, and the young Kosovar students were "like a very parched sponge, immediately avid to absorb anything that helped to illuminate their past history and made sense of their contemporary situation."(61) Those who were university students in 1981 contend that they looked beyond the ideological leanings of the books to the cultural content.(62) Nonetheless, the books, the students and the educational system would later be blamed for the growing discontent at the University of Pristina.

By 1981, the student population in Pristina had ballooned to over twenty thousand--nearly one in ten adults in the city.(63) Kosovo had the dubious honor of having the highest ratio of both students and illiterates in Yugoslavia. The Albanian nationalist movement in Kosovo found its most vocal supporters and leaders among the young, educated unemployed. Tito was aware of this growing danger during his last visit to Kosovo (and one of his last pubic experiences) on October 16, 1979. He warned members of the party that "Kosovo must truly be the concern of all our peoples of the entire Yugoslav union," and that "more development is in the interest not only of Kosovo, but all of Yugoslavia."(64) Kosovo did not need just more development funds, it desperately needed more efficient social and economic strategies that were more attentive to the region's national tensions. These improvements never came. Instead, within a year of Tito's death, the University of Pristina would erupt in the worst violence in Yugoslavia since the end of the Second World War.(65)

The Truths of the 1981 Demonstrations

Those who were university students in Kosovo in 1981 remember the initial demonstrations as small-scale protests for better food in the school cafeteria and improved living conditions in the dormitories.(66) These protests, on March 11, 1981, involved an estimated two thousand students. Some say they lasted a couple of hours, others that the demonstrations lingered for nearly two days. According to interviews with participants, there was little advance knowledge of the action--nor could there have been, as police would have disrupted the protest before it began. Most students who joined in the demonstrations say that they just happened to be at the university when they heard and saw fellow students beginning to gather.(67) Before long, the protesters had expanded their concerns to demand better conditions for Albanians in Kosovo.(68) Police dispersed the demonstrators. The next day, Tanjug, the official Yugoslav press agency, described the demonstrations as having been provoked by "hostile elements . . . attempting to exploit the discontent of certain students over the quality of food at the school cafeteria."(69)

After two weeks of calm, the protests resumed in Prizren (southern Kosovo) on March 25, and again in Pristina on March 26, when Albanian students occupied a dormitory. This time, the demonstrations grew violent. The Pristina daily Rilindja reported that thirty-five people were wounded and twenty-one students arrested in this second wave of protests.

No longer a student protest but a mass revolt, the unrest moved across Kosovo. Six cities erupted on April 1 and 2, bringing tens of thousands of miners, workers, teachers, students, civil servants, Albanians from all walks of life onto the streets. Rioters allegedly marched with young children in front, as shields, as they moved against police, throwing rocks and smashing store windows. The federal government declared a state of emergency, bringing in federal troops and helicopters to patrol cities, major roadways and borders. Paratroopers occupied an airfield strip in Pristina; the entire province was sealed off; a curfew was imposed;(70) schools and factories were closed and all signs of normal life came to a standstill. At one point up to thirty thousand federal troops patrolled the province; Kosovars experienced their presence as a "military occupation."(71)

A news blackout and a near-total ban on foreign journalists kept the world ill-informed about what was happening. According to the Albanian protestors, police used excessive force to control the crowds, turning on civilians with batons, tear gas and firearms. Reportedly, some Albanian members of the police and army turned coat and joined the demonstrations. The crowd shouted slogans and carried placards demanding "Kosovo Republic," Stop the Exploitation of Trepca [a mine in Kosovo]," "Protect the Rights of Albanians Outside Kosovo," "Improve Living Conditions for Students and Workers," "Stop Repression, Free Political Prisoners," "Down with the Greater-Serbia Chauvinism."(72) Some demonstrators also were reported to have boasted pro-Albania messages, such as: "We Are Enver Hoxha's Soldiers," "Down with Revisionism, Long Live Marxism-Leninism,"(73) "We Are Albanians, Not Yugoslavs," and "We Want United Albania!"(74) Kosovar protestors argue that the pro-Albania themes were not supported by the majority of people who took to the streets.(75) Regardless, once the media blackout was lifted, local journalists would zero in on these more controversial signs, presenting them as the demonstrators' key political demands.(76)

In an effort to squelch the demonstrations, the police moved quickly to arrest those they suspected of being ringleaders. Witnesses contend that people were arrested at random merely for participating in the demonstrations.(77) The arrests backfired, as they provided another reason for further protest: demanding the release of those arrested.(78) On April 3, demonstrations spread to Kosovska Mitrovica, Vucitrn and Urosevac from there to nearly every municipality within Kosovo. Yugoslav authorities accused the protestors of being armed. The Yugoslav press reported that by the end of April eleven people had died; Amnesty International reported that the number may have been as high as three hundred;(79) some Kosovars claimed that almost one thousand were killed.(80)

Despite intense police pressure and numerous arrests, the protestors would not leave the streets. The second week in May, thousands of students and supporters once again occupied the dormitories at the University of Pristina, and police once again used tear gas and clubs to disperse the crowd.(81) Elementary and public schools, which had been closed during the first wave of unrest and reopened two weeks later, were declared closed for the summer.

The events in Kosovo had a tremendous impact on Albanians living in other parts of Yugoslavia. Demonstrations broke out in Tetovo, in northwestern Macedonia. Protestors there called for the establishment of an Albanian-language university and, alternatively, for the inclusion of "Albanian parts" of Macedonia into Kosovo.(82) A number of "incidents" were also reported in Montenegro, from graffiti writing to the formation of unauthorized, purportedly separatist organizations. Similar unrest was reported in towns in southern Serbia and Zagreb.

The Yugoslav press approached the 1981 demonstrations with unusual caution. The local press had run independent, on-the-spot reports of the 1968 Kosovo demonstrations, but in 1981 they ran only the official statements provided by provincial, republic and federal leaders.(83) The first statement to come out of the Kosovo League of Communists Provincial Committee, which was later approved by the Serbian and Yugoslav League of Communists, labeled the demonstrations "a component of the organized actions by domestic and foreign enemies working for Albanian nationalism and irredentism, a component of the counterrevolutionary struggle against the socialist self-managing system."(84) According to the Yugoslav press, the demonstrations were against everything Yugoslavia stood for: "The demonstrations and the disturbances, organized by hostile, anti-self-managing and irredentist elements, are aimed at causing instability in Kosovo, provoking confrontations between Albanians and members of other nations and nationalities in Kosovo and Yugoslavia, and breaking the brotherhood and unity achieved in their common struggle during the National Liberation War and the period of socialist development. They are also aimed at overthrowing the political system of socialist self-management."(85) Calling the demonstrations counterrevolutionary served to hide the larger national, social and economic issues behind the unrest. Instead of addressing the root causes of conflict, the public was invited to speculate about the "organized work of internal and external enemies."(86)

Who were the domestic and foreign enemies? Conspiracy theories abounded, and in the new post-Tito era the press and the public were more free to explore them. Conspiracy theories fall on particularly fertile ground in the Balkans. Mihailo Crnobrnja has noted the intransigence of such theories in post-Tito Yugoslavia: "Though such a theory can be challenged, it is extremely difficult to refute partial and individual statements by its adherents. When faced with an individual statement by a conspiracy-theory zealot, a rational person runs the risk of appearing naive or uninformed, especially if the conspiracy theory comes from such authoritative sources as academies of science, the leadership of political parties, or individual political leaders who have a considerable following."(87) For these reasons, history as myth in the Balkans--as opposed to history as fact--is often colored by theories of conspiracies. The theories about the 1981 demonstrations all sounded at least a little possible, especially when presented in a piecemeal fashion and when delivered to audiences looking for anything that could help them make sense of their lives.

The spread of the conspiracy theories about the 1981 demonstrations helped to unleash nationalist sentiment, convincing many that there was indeed an identifiable "enemy" who was being helped by someone else (either from "inside" or "outside"), as well as diverting attention from political quarrels and shifting responsibility for the failures of economic and social policies onto someone else. Two kinds of Truths were to emerge from the 1981 demonstrations: Truths about Kosovo Albanian participants and Truths about the "outsiders."

Truths about the Kosovo Albanian Participants

Many commentators believe that the 1981 demonstrations, with perhaps the exception of the first protests on March 11, were in no way spontaneous student rallies but rather organized political events. While some believe that "outsiders" (such as the secret police of Serbia, Albania and/or the Soviet Union--see discussion below) instigated or even orchestrated the unrest, other commentators believe that Kosovo Albanian groups played a role as well. Zachary Irwin has summarized the three Albanians groups most often said to have been involved: "(1) those desiring Kosovo be granted greater control and formal republic status; (2) those who desired a regime inspired by Albania's 'Marxism-Leninism' [and who wanted to unite with Albania]; (3) and those whose anti-Communist or militant Islamic stance was equally hostile toward Belgrade and Tirana [the capital of Albania]."(88) This characterization is only partially supportable. Placards carried by the demonstrators and interviews with participants suggest that at least the first two groups were included, although those supporting a Kosovo republic far outnumbered those with Marxist-Leninist goals. To some extent "anti-Communists" were involved as well. Within the group seeking republic status, ideological differences existed, pitting those self-identified as communists with those who questioned communist ideology--so-called anti-Communists.(89)

As for the third grouping in Irwin's list, however, there is little evidence that groups with a "militant Islamic" stance were participating in any way. Although the vast majority of Kosovo Albanians are Muslim only an estimated fifty thousand are Catholic and a handful other denominations, Islam has never been a basis of organization for political action in Kosovo. Albanians identify themselves primarily as Albanians, not as Muslims or Catholics. Common history, myths, traditions and language (with different dialects) hold them together, not a common religion.(90) Moreover, most Kosovo Albanians, like other residents of then-Yugoslavia, are not dogmatic adherents to any faith. It is not uncommon in Kosovo for communities that are mixed Muslim, Catholic and atheist to respect both Islamic and Christian holidays. Furthermore, with respect to the 1981 demonstrations, some khojas (Islamic leaders) in Kosovo had explicitly refused to support the protests.(91)

Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, the Truth for some Serbs--and for westerners similarly fearful of the "Oriental Other"--is that Islamic fundamentalism must be at the heart of Albanian actions in Kosovo. Pushing the "Muslim terrorist" button in the 1990s is easy. In a book on Kosovo published in Belgrade in 1992, Dusan Batakovic says that Kosovar Albanians set fire to the Pec Patriarchate in March 1981, and that the event brought to the "surface again the religious intolerance that remained the deepest layer of [Albanians'] obsession against Serbs."(92) Samuel Huntington's "clash of civilizations" thesis attracts adherents like Batakovic who warns: "A deep driving force of all tectonic disturbances in Kosovo and Metohija emerged from layers beneath the deceptive communist reality and the inheritance of centuries long conflict of different nations: a class of two civilizations, the Christian and the Islamic . . . "(93) This characterization of the conflict ignores the fact that Kosovo Albanians are both Muslim and Christian and that Kosovo Albanians have never identified themselves in terms of religious identity. Resistance against the Serbs was just as much a part of Kosovo Albanian Catholic culture as of Kosovo Albanian Muslim culture.

In contrast, the Truth for most Kosovo Albanians is that the participants in the first set of demonstration were in fact students, who above all wanted better economic conditions--and then also republic status for Kosovo. Although the March 11 organizations were planned by someone, most Albanians believe that someone to be a group of students. Kosovars remember people taking to the streets in the second wave of demonstrations, in the last week of March, to protest economic, social and political conditions in Kosovo; most protestors say they wanted republic status for Kosovo, not Kosovo's unification with Albania. The massive April demonstrations, Kosovars suspect, were more carefully planned, perhaps by Kosovar groups working with outsiders.

Analysts have identified at least five major Kosovo Albanian underground groups active in the early 1980s.(94) Groups that purportedly called for the unification of Kosovo with Albania included the Movement for a National Liberation of Kosovo (MNLK), the Group of Marxist-Leninists of Kosovo (GMLK) and the Red Front. Groups seeking republic status for Kosovo within Yugoslavia included the Communist Party Marxist-Leninist of Yugoslavia (PKNLSHJ) and the Movement for an Albanian Republic in Yugoslavia (LRSHJ). The last organization appears to have been formed after the demonstrations, by a unification of the first three organizations.(95)

Whether these any of these organizations had a part to play in the 1981 demonstrations (and if so the extent of that role) is unclear. Association with these organizations was never taken lightly. The mere mention of the name of any of these organizations in Kosovo was and is dangerous. The leaders in exile of the MNLK, Jusuf and Bardhosh Gervalla, and the leader of the GMLK, Kadri Zeka, were shot in Germany in an incident that has been attributed to Yugoslav hit men. The founder of LRSHJ, Nuhi Berisha, was shot by police in Pristina in January 1984, reportedly during a shoot-out.(96)

Today, most Albanians who took part in the demonstrations strongly deny an association with any of these groups. Some Albanians who stayed away from the 1981 demonstrations did so precisely because they had heard Marxist-Leninist groups were involved.(97) "I am not and have never been Marxist-Leninist," said one woman who was arrested and sentenced to prison following the demonstration, "They said that I am, but I am not!"(98) "I wanted a Kosovo Republic," said a man who had been sent to jail at the same time. "I was not for the goals of any of those organizations."(99)

Even those who admit to being leaders of separatist groups deny primary responsibility for the organization of the 1981 demonstrations. Hydajet Hyseni, for example, reportedly a founder of the GMLK, was sentenced to fifteen years in prison on November 17, 1982, for involvement in nationalist activity, including purported leadership of the 1981 demonstrations. Hyseni had been in hiding, however, and was not in the country during the time of the first demonstration (March 1981). He says he returned to the country and spoke at the second demonstration, but that the demonstration had been organized by others.(100)

The conflicting statements of participants and bystanders to the 1981 demonstrations, as well as those made by federal, regional and provincial authorities, have produced multiple Truths. The identities of the Kosovo Albanians who played the largest role in the demonstrations may never be known.

Truths about the Role of Outsiders

Serbs, Albanians and other commentators inside and outside the region also have speculated about the involvement of outsiders--thatis, people outside Kosovo Albanian communities--in the 1981 demonstrations. Many Kosovo Albanians now attribute the second wave of demonstrations to the Serbian secret police and/or other Serbian "elements" who wanted to create the pretext for a crackdown against Kosovo Albanians. Two additional theories also gained broad appeal: either Tirana or pro-Soviet elements had a role in the demonstrations, acting alone or, more likely, working with either local Albanians or Serbian police.(101) Interestingly, versions of these theories (though vastly different) are accepted among both Serbs and Albanians.

The Tirana Conspiracy

The most mild version of this theory speculates that propaganda from Tirana fostered the conditions that led to the unrest. But some charge that the government of Albania had a direct hand in the 1981 demonstrations. Serbs and Albanians have been attracted to two very different strains of this theory: Some Serbs believe that Tirana was working directly with Kosovo Albanians in order to promote Albanian goals, while some Kosovo Albanians believe that Tirana was working with Serbs in order to crush Albanians in Kosovo.

There is no direct proof of Albanian involvement. Instead, those who accept this theory point to the behavior of the demonstrators (that is, waving pro-Albania placards), the Marxist-Leninist orientation of some Kosovo Albanian underground organizations,(102) and Tirana's unusually loud and prolonged response to the 1981 events, which was in marked contrast to its silence following the 1968 demonstrations in Kosovo. In 1981, leaders in Albania lashed out against the "response of the Yugoslav leadership to the lawful demands of the people of Kosova," terming it "repression with fire and steel" and attributing it to the "savage terror of the Great-Serb chauvinists."(103) According to Zeri i Popullit, the main Albanian press and an organ of the government, in Kosovo "streets were running with blood," "hundreds of people were wounded and killed" and "several thousand were arrested."(104) In order to make sure that its positions was heard, the Albanian government even assembled a collection of articles from Zeri i Popullit, translating the collection into English and distributing it to the foreign press.

According to the Albanian officials, the demonstrations had nothing to do with Kosovo Albanians wanting to join Albania. Rather, the editors of Zeri i Popullit asserted: "Any objective person, any unbiased observer, can see and immediately understand that the basic causes of the recent events in Kosovo are the great backwardness of the region, the poverty and the suffering of its people, and the lack of democratic freedoms and political rights. The demonstrations had erupted as the result of a[n] intolerable situation which has been going on for tens of years and the increasingly gloomy prospects of ever emerging from this situation."(105) Apart from the economic demands, Zeri i Popullit said, "the demonstrators made political demands for greater freedom, for democratic rights as well as for the granting of the status of a republic within the Yugoslav Federation to Kosova."(106)

In other articles, Zeri i Popullit explicitly endorsed Kosovo Albanians' demand for the status of a "nation" and a "republic" under the Yugoslav system of government, asking:

Why does the leadership of the Federation [of Yugoslavia] not study the demands for a republic . . . in a fair way, why does it not interpret them as demands which stem from the Constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia itself, but rush in to describe them as "hostile, counter-revolutionary demands which ruin the stability and destroy Yugoslavia"? Do not the Albanians of Kosova have all the features and characteristics that constitute a nation, do they not live in a compact territory, do they not have their common language, culture, spiritual make-up, are they not capable of governing themselves, but need the tutelage of someone else, are they so few in number that they are not worthy of being raised to the rank of a republic . . . ? . . . Those who are really to blame for the situation must be found, but they are not in Kosova, nor in . . . Albania, as is being hinted and implied in some quarters. To find them one must probe deeper into the policy pursued by the Yugoslav leadership.(107)

The Albanian paper suggested that those to blame can be found by reading the memorandum of Vasa Cubrilovic on the expulsion of Serbs from Kosovo, addressed to the royal Serbian government in 1937--in other words, Serbian Chauvinists.(108) The editors emphasized that they spoke out about events in Kosovo out of concern for injustice toward fellow Albanians, much as others support or criticize the Solidarity movement in Poland, but not because of any greater meddling in the internal affairs of Yugoslavia.(109)

Despite these strong disclaimers, Yugoslav and Serbian authorities saw Albania as interfering with an "internal matter." In particular, Belgrade perceived Tirana to be questioning the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia when Zeri i Popullit boldly wrote: "The Treaty of London, the Treaty of Versailles, or any other imperialist treaty cannot be imposed to the detriment of the Albanian people."(110) In response to criticism from Yugoslavia, the editors of Zeri i Popullit saved its harshest accusations for Serbian leaders: "Leading Serbian personalities in particular, and certain organs of the press which are run by them, set up a furious propaganda campaign against [Albania] full of the most monstrous slanders and lies, distort the character of the relations between our two countries and even go so far as open provocations."(111)

If Albanian was, as some Serbs suggest, helping Kosovo Albanians in 1981, that move would have been against Albanian policy. Albania had worked hard at isolationism, creating its own form of ideological purity. Kosovo Albanians, with their free practice of religion, ownership of property and bourgeois notions of life, would certainly have disrupted this purity. Albania had indeed beamed its television and radio programs and sent books over the border to Kosovo, but it did little more to encourage Kosovo Albanians to "unite with the motherland." Indeed, never wanting to create tensions with Yugoslavia, Albania had even returned members of illegal Kosovar groups who had sought shelter within its borders.(112)

At the time of the demonstrations, Kosovo Albanians also publicly denied that the demonstrations had any political connections with Albania. In 1981 very few Kosovars supported unification with Albania.(113) Although Kosovo had adopted the literary language used in Albania rather than one based on its own dialect, Kosovars were content to read the books published in their own "Kosovo Republic" in Yugoslavia, not Albania. Before the doors had opened to Albania, Kosovars could fancy romantic visions of their "motherland," but by 1981 these dreams had been deflated by the stories brought back by tourists who had witnessed the poverty of Albania firsthand. Kosovars also were not thrilled with the condescending attitude of Enver Hoxha, the ruler of Albania. A widely heard saying in Kosovo, Miranda Vickers has observed, was: "Enver Hoxha should remember that he is head of state and head of a party, but not head of a nation."(114) Given the prevailing skepticism toward Albania, the number of Kosovars who carried placards in the 1981 demonstrations reading "We Are Enver Hoxha's soldiers" was likely to have been extremely small.

Recently, however, Kosovo Albanians have started to talk openly about Tirana's probable involvement, but not according to any scenario put forth by the Yugoslav or Serbian leadership. According to one thesis popular among some Albanians (living both in Kosovo and Albania), at least the second wave of demonstrations was part of a conspiracy between supporters of Enver Hoxha and Serbs. Under this theory, Hoxha was displeased with the opening of relations between Kosovo and Albania because Albanians visiting Kosovo were bringing back word that the economic situation in Kosovo was not as bad as portrayed in Albanian propaganda. Hoxha wanted nothing more than to see Kosovo isolated. Thus, he conspired with the Serbian secret police in order to ensure that an unsuccessful demonstration would be held, one that could be easily crushed.

In an interview with Serbian journalists that was printed in Belgrade in 1995, this theory was supported by none other than Azem Vllasi, one of the leading Albanian politicians, who had held high federal posts until his ouster in 1990. Vllasi says:

One thing is for sure: what happened in 1981 was not growing or was not prepared or organized all in Kosovo. . . . It is undeniable that there was a certain role of the Albanian secret service Sigurimi, who were in connection with that smaller part of our ÈmigrÈs abroad who supported the position of the regime of Enver Hoxha. Actually, before the demonstrations, more and more information had reached Albania about Albanians in Kosovo and their significant advancement, their education in the mother tongue, the existence of the university, the academy of sciences, Albanian-language TV programs, that they had achieved a high cultural level and also that their living standard was significantly higher than the one in Albania. . . . Knowledge such as that was shaking the positions of the Albanian regime of that time until 1981, when the propaganda in Albania started to feed on information on Yugo-repression in Kosovo and on Serbian pressures against the autonomy of Kosovo and the national freedoms of Albanians, which was unfortunately was actually happening. There are some indications about . . . cooperation of certain circles of the state security from Belgrade and Sigurimi around discovering and arresting people from Kosovo who were involved in the happenings [in 1981].(115)

The cooperation with Sigurimi backfired. Vllasi says that some of those who had been imprisoned for organizing the 1981 demonstrations told him that one of the members of their group went to Albania after the demonstrations to "get instructions" from Sigurimi. Following this person's return, the entire group was arrested, apparently having been double crossed. Vllasi and others who support this thesis underscore that those cooperating with the Sigurimi were a minority, but that their influence doomed the protest. If the demonstrators had not protested in favor of Albania, Vllasi contends, the local political leadership of Kosovo would have supported them.(116) Vllasi's allegations in this regard appear to be a transparent piece of misinformation, as the political leadership of Kosovo in 1981 still strongly supported the official Yugoslav line.

After Enver Hoxha's death in 1982, Albanian television reportedly ran a special report on the 1981 demonstrations supporting a variant of the thesis that Hoxha's men had held the reins. Given the timing of the broadcast--just after the purges in Kosovo following revocation of Kosovo's autonomy--an especially large number of Kosovo Albanians were in Albania to watch the report. Their reactions were various: "We already knew," "We suspected," "That's just propaganda to discredit Hoxha," or, most commonly, "Even if that happened, I was there at the demonstration for another reason."(117)

The Soviet Conspiracy

One popular version of this theory, believed by many both inside and outside the region, attributed the demonstration to Cominformists--pro-Soviet, anti-Tito communists.(118) Following the 1981 demonstrations, public policy circles in Washington and elsewhere warned, "There is concern that 'Cominformist' (pro-Soviet) elements in Kosovo and Albania have attempted to exploit Albanian dissent in order to forestall a rapprochement between Belgrade and Tirana, and provoke a restoration of Serbian dominance."(119) This theory draws on the belief, popular in some circles, that within Serbia an underground political movement was hard at work that included ex-Cominform supporters, ex-Chetniks and Rankovic supporters (Serbian hard-liners on Kosovo), sharing a common platform of "Serbian Chauvinism."(120)

The idea is that pro-Soviet elements, working either independently or with various Serbian "opposition actors," encouraged or even staged one or both sets of demonstrations. There is no agreement on who these opposition actors were. At that time, "opposition" could mean anything against the policy of the Yugoslav League of Communists at the time, such as unitarists in a time of decentralization, or those opposed to economic reform in a time of liberalization.

Among the most vocal supporters of the Cominform theory was Albania, which speculated that Moscow's silence on events in Kosovo exposed the existence of a "secret Soviet-Great-Serb collaboration."(121) The escalation of an Albanian-Yugoslav quarrel would serve Soviet interests by shaking the existing stability of the Balkan Peninsula and further weakening Yugoslavia, which, Zeri i Popullit said, was already falling apart. In what would prove to be a chillingly accurate political estimation, the Albanian press wrote:

They are saying nothing about what is occurring in Kosova because they want the Great-Serb clan to operate there without any hindrance, to go to the limit in its adventure, to play all its cards and reach the point from which there can be no turning back, when they are left with only one option--to fall back into the lap of the Soviets. Moscow has calculated that the Serbian "iron fist" which is striking at Kosova at present, will be raised against Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia tomorrow. When this time comes, and it is already obvious that it will not be long delayed, the Serbian clan will be in dire need of the aid of the Soviets.(122)
Whether a Soviet-Serb (or Russian-Serb) conspiracy over Kosovo ever actually existed, the accuracy of the Albanian prophecy has won adherents to this theory today.

Following the Truths

The attempts of the Communist Party to suppress information about the unrest in Kosovo proved futile. Eventually, "the dam burst and a torrent of articles soon flooded the Yugoslav press, criticizing party behavior in Kosovo, exposing the depths of inter-ethnic friction between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo, and upbraiding those [provincial] party figures who had endeavored to withhold information from the party."(123) The Yugoslav press eventually reported that "a wave of 'hostile activities'" swept Kosovo, Serbia proper, Macedonia and Albanian-populated parts of Montenegro, as young Albanians went on a rampage. According to Sami Repishti, these activities included defacing government buildings, desecrating communist monuments and Serbian cemeteries, writing slogans on walls, throwing stones at passing trains and government cars, and especially distributing antigovernment material.(124) The Kosovo state president, Ali Shukria, appealed for Kosovars to act honorably and with restraint. He asked, "How would Albanian families feel if their graves were desecrated and their religious objects damaged?"(125) Relations between Serb and Albanian neighbors and workers became increasingly strained. According to both Kosovo Serbs and Albanians, 1981 was the year in which many previously harmonious relationships between members of different groups grew sour or broke off completely.(126)

The backlash against Albanians began immediately. In Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia proper and Kosovo, Slavs began to boycott Albanian owned stores and bakeries, cutting their sales by as much as 85 percent.(127) Cooperation between Albania and Kosovo came to a standstill,(128) as the movie deals, exchange of visiting professors and booming tourism between Albania and Yugoslavia came screeching to a halt. The University of Pristina was prohibited from using textbooks from Albania; from then on, the university texts were to be books translated from Serbo-Croatian.

Emigration from Kosovo, by all groups, increased after the 1981 demonstrations. Estimates of migrations vary widely. Many believe that thirty thousand Serbs and Montenegrins left Kosovo during 1981 through 1987, although even these figures are contested.(129) During the 1980s a large number of Albanians left as well, usually young men looking for work in other parts of Yugoslavia and abroad.(130) Albanians who left during this period attributed their migration to poor economic conditions;(131) in contrast, Serbs who left frequently blamed the party for failing to protect them from discrimination and harassment by Albanians.(132)

Mandatory party meetings were held throughout Kosovo in which Albanians were to pledge their support for the party. Tanjug, the press agency, accused local Albanian party leaders of conspiring with the protestors, claiming that "the inescapable conclusion is that much of the Kosovo party is either implicated in the unrest in some way or is sympathetic to the growing secessionist movement. The Kosovar Party organization and the security apparatus are permeated with Albanian counterrevolutionaries and irredentists."(133)

Kosovar leader Mahmut Bakali, the head of the League of Communists of Kosovo, was accused of misleading Belgrade about the extent of the unrest in Kosovo and forced to resign. He was replaced by his predecessor, Veli Deva, a man thought to be harder on Tirana. Federal authorities also purged many Albanians from other government posts, removing the secretaries for education and culture, international affairs, economics, information; the president of the university and two rectors; the Pristina party secretary; and several minor officials, all of whom were ethnic Albanians. One Serb was forced to resign as well, the Province Council chairman, for inflammatory statements. All of those purged were replaced with members of the old guard, some of whom had held high positions during the Rankovic era.(134)

The demonstrations led to severe "preventative measures," that is, the arrest and containment of those suspected of being likely to protest again. On June 9, 1981, Interior Secretary-General Herljevic reported to the federal Assembly that the situation was coming under control:

During these past days, preventative and repressive measures were taken against 1,700 people . . . 506 persons were sentenced for petty offenses.(135) For participating in the demonstrations, 287 persons; 38 for assisting; 31 for attempting to organize demonstrations; 46 for spreading hostile slogans; 104 for openly hostile attitudes. Criminal procedures were initiated against 154 persons. Among them, there are 39 members of illegal organizations; 29 are main organizers of demonstrations; others have demonstrated tendencies for vandalism. The majority of those against whom criminal procedures were initiated are intellectuals. . . ."(136)
Many young Albanians were arrested for taking part in the demonstrations and for various "verbal offenses" or minor vandalism following the disturbances. The trials, which rarely lasted more than a few hours, were expedited during the summer months, with no independent observers present to ensure that the charges of irredentism were proven at a fair trial.(137) From July 1 to September 9, 1981, 226 students and workers, most of whom were under the age of twenty-five, were tried, convicted and sentenced to up to fifteen years in prison.(138) One could receive up to six years in prison for the mere writing of the slogan "Kosovo Republic" or for penning pro-Albanian poetry. The severity of the sentences was harshly attacked. Eventually, 60 percent of the sentences for "verbal crimes" were reduced on appeal by the Supreme Court of Kosovo, but the lengthy sentences for "organized activity" were not disturbed.(139)

In 1982, Amnesty International's newly adopted prisoners of conscience list included eight youths sentenced in Pristina for advocating republic status for Kosovo; three university students and a high school pupil charged with irredentism in Vranje (southern Serbia proper); and two Albanian men charged with sellingtape-recorded Radio Tirana broadcasts and writing poems in praise of Albania.(140) The extreme youth of those arrested after the demonstrations had a tremendous impact on Kosovo Albanians, shaping the future of not only the arrested but also their relatives and friends, who would forever mark time in relation to the 1981 demonstrations.(141) The age of the arrested would also become an issue for Serbian nationalists, who would argue that the state had intentionally failed to arrest the real leaders and that "Even the deliberately draconian sentences handed down against young offenders have been designed to incite and spread ethnic hatred."(142)

Accompanying the arrests and trials of student demonstrators were a series of arrests of those suspected of taking part in underground Albanian organizations. On February 3, 1982, the provincial Secretary for Internal Affairs, Mehmet Maliqi, claimed to have uncovered thirty-three illegal groups, describing the support of Albanians for even the most radical groups as "massive."(143) Although these groups may have claimed left-wing, Marxist-Leninist ideology, their ideology was based more on Albanian nationalism, and their goal was republic status for Kosovo and/or unification with Albania. Their methods were usually the peaceful distribution of propaganda. As noted above, Hydajet Hyseni, the purported founder of one of the illegal organizations, GMLK, was sentenced to fifteen years in prison in 1982. The authorities had hunted Hyseni down alone. More typically, the accused were arrested en masse. Usually the accused were young intellectuals who lived in the same town, attended the same university or had other connections; relatives were often accused together. Often a similar collection of people would be arrested in another town and accused of being a "branch" of the same organization. In July 1982, for example, a court heard the case of a school teacher, Nazmi Hoxha, and fifteen of his fellow teachers, students and friends. They were convicted of belonging to the GMLK and of producing and distributing leaflets calling on Albanians to take part in boycotts and strikes, of writing "subversive slogans" (such as "Kosovo Republic") and of distributing "subversive literature" (originating in Albania or Albanian ÈmigrÈ circles).(144) Nazmi Hoxha received a fifteen-year prison sentence, and his codefendants received various sentences of up to thirteen years.

Whether Kosovar Albanians were writing nationalist graffiti and passing around propaganda from Albania is not in dispute. Whether those convicted were members of Albanian separatist and/or Marxist-Leninist organizations is less clear. Some of the young people accused of belonging to Marxist-Leninist organizations credibly testify that they were never Marxist-Leninists and they simply wanted to use their right to assembly and speech (guaranteed not only in international conventions but in the Yugoslav Constitution) to "do something for [their] people."(145) Even if some of the accused were Marxist-Leninist separatists, the mass roundups, mistreatment during detention and speedy trials virtually assured that some people would be convicted for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or for knowing the wrong people. For most Kosovar Albanians, these trials simply demonstrated injustice against Albanians. For many Serbs (and to a lesser extent Yugoslavs), the trials exposed deep and dangerous Albanian conspiracies that, if not extinguished, might explode.(146)

The Yugoslav governments' response to the phenomena known as the "1981 student demonstrations" changed political discourse in Yugoslavia in four ways that would prove critical to the ability of the country to sustain itself in the future.

First, by defining the demonstrations as counterrevolutionary,(147) Yugoslavia could dodge having to see the underlying social, economic and ethno-national concerns, and in doing so upped the stakes over Kosovo--and Yugoslavia itself. As Mahmut Bakali explains, "It became a Yugoslav problem because of the wrong decision of Yugoslavia to label it 'counterrevolutionary.' In Communist logic, the counterrevolution is doomsday. I thought at that time not to call the demonstration counterrevolutionary, but to give it a more logical explanation. My suggestion was to make a peaceful bypass, to address the students' concerns and continue."(148) Federal officials were perhaps writing the future of Yugoslavia when they equated the demands for a Kosovo republic within Yugoslavia with the call for a Kosovo republic outside Yugoslavia. Less drastic solutions to ethno-national conflict were effectively cut off.

Second, as Miranda Vickers has observed, "The fact that the problem could only be contained by force played into the hands of government hard-liners."(149) Within Serbia a new measure for political acceptability was set: those who were "hard" on Kosovo (which meant hard on Albanian nationalism) had a possibility of being in; those who were perceived as "soft" were out. Anyone who called for improvement of the economic situation in Kosovo as the solution had a limited political life span, unless he or she also somehow "spit on Kosovo."(150)

Third, the demonstrations sparked criticism about the previous policies of Tito and the party. After the 1981 demonstrations, Serbs talked of the "past mistakes" of the party and, implicitly, of Tito (usually without mentioning him by name).(151) Tito's liberal attitude toward Tirana was seen as one "mistake" that had to go. Milos Minic, a party leader in Serbia, went so far as to blame Tito for permitting Kosovo Albanian students to be misled: "Tito was always his own foreign minister and Enver Hoxha used this soft line of Tito's so that an open flirtation was possible in Kosovo. We should have explained this Albanian variant of Socialism, we should not have left our people so completely uninformed about it. If we had done so, there would be fewer misled people in Kosovo. We have to correct this without turning everything into a campaign against Albania and the Albanian people."(152) Some Serbian leaders were less forgiving than Minic. In any event, this statement was among the very first to be critical of Tito's legacy.

Finally, all of these changes encouraged Serbian politicians to begin exploiting the Kosovo issue to their gain. Nationalists were encouraged to speak more openly. Sensing the popularity of the nationalist appeal, would-be nationalists were encouraged to follow along. Although much of the Yugoslav press was still trying to assuage national unrest, blatantly nationalistic articles began to appear in books and in less mainstream publications. In 1981, for example, Stevan Moljevic wrote of a "homogeneous Serbia that had to embrace the whole ethnic territory on which Serbs live."(153) These words would never have appeared in Tito's day.

"The 1981 demonstrations had a tremendous impact," Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova has noted, "but the course of history was already changing."(154) Long before the 1981 student demonstrations, political life in Yugoslavia was characterized by national tensions, regional economic disparities, and ideological and political differences between republics. Controlling these problems had led the government to adopt what were seen at the time to be creative reforms: decentralization of political and economic institutions and encouragement of certain forms of cultural pluralism.(155) The 1981 demonstrations were not the beginning of the problem, but rather the start of serious examination of the shortcomings of these reforms. Each failure would be explained differently and exploited by politicians from every nation and nationality, in each republic. While the other republics pushed for greater decentralization of political and economic institutions and enhanced cultural pluralism, Serbian politicians demanded centralization, the unity of Serb lands, a decrease in cultural pluralism for Albanians and an increase in the protection and promotion of Serbian culture.

In time, Albanians would lose more than they ever imagined. Looking back, Kosovar Albanians would wonder whether the 1981 demonstrations should have occurred at all. "The demonstrations were our handicap," Mahmut Bakali would say in 1995. "They were not needed at the time."(156) Azem Vllasi, an Albanian politician who would appear close to Milosevic until their falling out in 1989, would agree, "We weren't ready. The 1981 demonstrations did more harm than good."(157) On the other hand, the demonstrations would be endorsed in retrospect by Albanian leaders who had held high posts in 1981 but failed to offer support to the protesters. The man who would be the last Kosovo Albanian member of the Yugoslav Presidency (until his ouster in 1991), Riza Sapunxhiu,(158) would reflect, "The 1981 demonstration caught me by surprise. I thought things were going well . . . I was surprised then, but now I see the need for the demonstrations."(159) Sevdie Ahmeti, an academic turned activist, would point to the one undisputed "achievement" of the demonstrations: "Only after 1981 did the world find out that Albanians existed in Kosovo."(160)

Still, over the next eight years, 584,373 Kosovo Albanians--half the adult population--would be arrested, interrogated, interned or remanded.(161) Albanians would not only lose their demand for a Kosovo republic--they would lose their status under the 1974 Constitution. And Yugoslavia would be lost altogether.

Notes to Chapter 1:

1. Sabrina Ramet has applied this proposition to Kosovo. See Sabrina P. Ramet, Nationalism and Federalism in Yugoslavia, 1962-1991, 2d ed. (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1992), 190.

2. Serbs have tended to attribute many problems in Kosovo to Albanian-language instruction, from Albanians' preservation of a strong national identity to Kosovo's low development rate. Kosovo Knot, the independent study conducted in 1990 by Belgrade liberals, found that "the weak cultural integration of Albanians in Yugoslavia" can be explained by "the influence of traditionalism, . . . customary law, attachment to property, the mother language and religion, which are leading to the isolation and are limiting integration [of Albanians] within the Yugoslav boundaries." Srdja Popovic, Dejan Janca and Tanja Petrovar, Kosovski cvor: Dresiti ili seci? (Belgrade: Kronos, 1990), 14.

3. Miranda Vickers, The Albanians: A Modern History (London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 1995), 204.

4. For discussions of the origins of this dissatisfaction, see Elez Biberaj, "Kosovo, The Struggle for Recognition," Conflict Studies, no. 137 (London: Institute for the Study of Conflict, 1982); and Steven K. Pavlowitch, "Kosovo: An Analysis of Yugoslavia's Albanian Problem," Conflict Studies, no. 138 (London: Institute for the Study of Conflict, 1982). For Biberaj's update on the problem, see Elez Biberaj, "Kosova: The Balkan Powder Keg," Conflict Studies, no. 258 (London: Institute for the Study of Conflict, 1993).

5. Sami Repishti, "Human Rights and the Albanian Nationality in Yugoslavia," in Human Rights in Yugoslavia, eds. Oskar Gruenwald and Karen Rosenblum-Cale (New York: Irvington Publishers, 1986), 255.

6. Vladan A. Vasilijevic, "Kosovo: Exercise and Protection of Human Rights," in Conflict or Dialogue: Serbian-Albanian Relations and the Integration of the Balkans, eds. Dusan Janjic and Shkelzen Maliqi (Subotica: Open University, 1994), 82. The rights that were granted to Albanians, Vasiljevic suggests, were a mistake, because Albanians, "[b]y availing themselves of the rights they were granted," became "collaborators in a mass movement of non-Albanian populations out of Kosovo . . ."

While "minority rights" may have been in line with international standards, many laws and practices throughout Yugoslavia violated international law, such as prosecution of "verbal offenses," the holding of prisoners for prolonged periods without charges and without counsel, torture and mistreatment in custody. These laws and practices were applied not only to Kosovo Albanians but to all dissenters.

7. Quote drawn from interviews by author with Serbian university students in Belgrade in 1994 and Pristina in 1995. Statements such as "What more did they [Albanians] want from us?" were the most common responses given by Serbs when asked about the 1981 demonstrations.

8. Repishti, "Human Rights and the Albanian Nationality," 255.

9. For the failure of the "Yugoslav" identity to catch on in Bosnia and the need to recognize the Muslim nation, see Fritz Hondius, The Yugoslav Community of Nations (The Hague: Mouton, 1968), 341, and for a discussion on the origins of Muslim identity, see Sabrina Ramet, "Primordial Ethnicity or Modern Nationalism: The Case of Yugoslavia's Muslims Reconsidered," The South Slav Journal 13, nos. 47-48 (spring-summer, 1990), 1-20. See generally Noel Malcolm, Bosnia: A Short History (New York: New York University Press, 1994); H. T. Norris, Islam in the Balkans: Religion and Society between Europe and the Arab World (London: Hurst, 1993).

10. On the question of the national status for Albanians, Muhamedin Kullashi asks: "Why should Macedonians, Montenegrins or Muslims be recognized as nations while Albanians should remain the status of a national minority? Does it imply the usual difference in Yugoslav legal-political ideology between Slavic peoples (Serbs, Croats, Montenegrins, etc.) who are 'state-building' and those who are not, e.g. Albanians, as they are not of Slavic origin?" Muhamedin Kullashi, "Kosovo and the Disintegration of Yugoslavia," in Conflict or Dialogue: Serbian-Albanian Relations and the Integration of the Balkans, eds. Dusan Janjic and Shkelzen Maliqi (Subotica: Open University, 1994).

11. See Milos Misovic, Ko je tra'io Republiku: Kosovo 1945-1985 (Belgrade: Narodna Knjiga, 1987).

12. Anton Logoreci, "A Clash between Two Nationalisms in Kosova," in Studies on Kosova, eds. Arshi Pipa and Sami Repishti (Boulder, Colo.: Eastern European Monographs, 1984), 189.

13. For the history of this development, see Kurtesh Salihu, The Origin, Position, and Development of the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosova (Pristina: Center for Marxist Studies, 1982). For one of the most concise analyses of the 1974 Constitution and its contribution to the collapse of Yugoslavia, see Vojin Dimitrijevic, "The 1974 Constitution and Constitutional Process as a Factor in the Collapse of Yugoslavia," in Yugoslavia: The Former and the Future: Reflections by Scholars from the Region, eds. Payam Akhavan and Robert Howse (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institute, 1995), 45-74, and for a thorough examination of the constitution's framework for negotiating conflict, see Steven Burg, Conflict and Cohesion in Socialist Yugoslavia (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), 242-300. The constitution itself is published asUstav Socijalistiicke Federativne Republike Jugoslavije [The Constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia] (Belgrade: Dopisna Delavska Univerza, 1974).

14. Interview with Azem Vllasi, Pristina, April 1995, in Kosmet ili Kosova, eds. Bahri Cani and Cvijetin Milivojevic (Belgrade: NEA, 1996), 93.

15. For an elaboration on the differences between the status of a republic and a that of a province, see Sami Repishti, "The Evolution of Kosova's Autonomy within the Yugoslav Constitutional Framework," in Studies on Kosova, eds. Pipa and Repishti, 216-25.

16. Thanks to Sabrina Ramet for this insight.

17. See Derek Hall, "Albanian Identity and Balkan Roles," in Reconstructing the Balkans: A Geography of the New Southwest Europe, eds. Derek Hall and Darrick Danta (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996), 122.

18. Repishti, "Human Rights and the Albanian Nationality," 256.

19. Zachary T. Irwin, "Law, Legitimacy and Yugoslav National Dissent: The Dimension of Human Rights," in Human Rights in Yugoslavia, eds. Gruenwald and Rosenblum-Cale 182.

20. Ramet, Nationalism and Federalism, 192.

21. See Nikola R. Pasic, "Political Persecutions in Yugoslavia: A Historical Survey," in Human Rights in Yugoslavia, eds. Gruenwald and Rosenblum-C ale, 49-106; Amnesty International, Yugoslavia: Prisoners of Conscience (London: Amnesty International, 1982).

22. See Amnesty International, Yugoslavia: Ethnic Albanians--Victims of Torture and Ill-Treatment by Police (New York: Amnesty International, 1992).

23. Ivo Banac, "Serbia's Deadly Fears," The New Combat (autumn 1994), 40.

24. U.S. State Department, Country Reports for Human Rights Practices 1981 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1982), 925.

25. See Repishti, "Human Rights and the Albanian Nationality," 255.

26. Ramet, Nationalism and Federalism, 193.

27. "Report to the Federal Assembly," Tanjug (Yugoslav press service), June 8, 1981; Rilindja, June 9, 1981.

28. Repishti, "Human Rights and the Albanian Nationality," 253-54 (citing "Albanian Prisoners in Idrizovo Appeal for Help," Der Spiegel, April 22, 1978, p. 18).

29. Ibid.

30. Ramet, Nationalism and Federalism, 194.

31. The author interviewed some of those arrested who described themselves in these terms.

32. Descriptions of operations of Albanian national movements in 1971-1981 are drawn from author's interviews. See chapter one for an interview in which a man describes the formation of such movements.

33. See interview with man arrested as a leader of the demonstrations, chapter one.

34. This position is represented in Alex N. Draganich and Slavko Todorovich, The Saga of Kosovo: Focus on Serbian-Albanian Relations (Boulder, Colo.: Eastern European Monographs, 1984), 170-73.

35. Interview by author in Pristina, spring 1995.

36. Ramet, Nationalism and Federalism, 195. Some Serbian leaders complain that this information was deliberately issued in the Albanian language in order to keep them Serbian speakers ill-informed.

37. Ibid. (citing Politika, March 30, 1980, p. 8).

38. Ibid. (citing Tanjug, November 1, 1980).

39. Quoted in Repishti, "Human Rights and the Albanian Nationality," 257.

40. See Bozidar Jovanovic, "Poratni drustveno-ekonomski koreni nacionalizma," in O albanskom i drugim nacionalizmima, Sveske (Sarajevo), January 12, 1985.

41. Vickers, The Albanians, 204.

42. On Kosovo, see Dragan Avramov et al., Demografski razvoj i populaciona politika SAP Kosova, (Belgrade: Institut drustvenih nauka, Centar za demografska istrazivanja, 1988), 82. On Slovenia, see Dennison Rusinow, Yugoslavia: A Fractured Federalism (Washington, D.C.: Wilson Center Press, 1988), 71.

43. Rusinow, Yugoslavia, 70.

44. Vesna Bojicic, "The Disintegration of Yugoslavia: Causes and Consequences of Dynamic Inefficiency in Semi-Command Economies," in Yugoslavia and After: A Study in Fragmentation, Despair and Rebirth, eds. David A. Dyker and Ivan Vejvoda (New York: Longman, 1996), 40.

45. Peter Prifti, "Kosova's Economy: Problems and Prospects," in Studies on Kosova, eds. Pipa and Repishti, 1984), 147.

46. Bojicic, "The Disintegration of Yugoslavia," 41. The economic plan announced at the start of 1981 set investment activity in Kosovo at 35.7 percent lower than in the year before, giving little hope for improvement. Prifti, "Kosova's Economy," 135.

47. See, e.g., Dijana Plestina, Regional Development in Communist Yugoslavia: Success, Failure and Consequences (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1992); Dragomir Vojnic, "Disparity and Disintegration: The Economic Dimension of Yugoslavia's Demise," in Yugoslavia: The Former and the Future, eds. Akhavan and Howse, 75-111. According to Vojnic one of the greatest sources of friction leading to the disintegration of Yugoslavia was the tension between less developed parts of Yugoslavia, which favored a more centralized economy, and the developed parts (in particular Slovenia and Croatia), which favored decentralization. Pp. 102-3.

48. Fred Singleton, A Short History of the Yugoslav People (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 273.

49. Prifti, "Kosova's Economy," 142.

50. Interview by author.

51. Vojnic, "Disparity and Disintegration," 111.

52. Bojicic, "The Disintegration of Yugoslavia," 42-43.

53. Hivzi Islami, "Demographic Reality in Kosova," in Conflict or Dialogue, eds. Janjic and Maliqi, 33.

54. Darko Hudelist quotes an interview with Shkelzen Maliqi in which he suggests that Albanian graduates of universities in Yugoslavia were being passed too easily and with little skills to prepare themselves for their jobs. Darko Hudelist, Kosovo, bitka bez iluzija (Zagreb: Center for Information and Publicity, 1989), 140. In addition to demographic reasons, Alex Draganich and Slavko Todorovich write that "other explanations given are Albanian backwardness, lack of management skills, corruption, investing in unproductive prestige enterprises, unrealistic and over-ambitious planning, and growing unemployment." Draganich and Todorovich, The Saga of Kosovo, 162.

55. Prifti, "Kosova's Economy," 148.

56. See, e.g., Milan Vuckovic and Goran Nikolic, Stanovnistvo Kosova u razdoblju od 1918. do 1991. godine (Munich: Slavica Verlag, 1996), 126-32.

57. Islami, "Demographic Reality in Kosova," 49.

58. Singleton, A Short History of the Yugoslav People, 272.

59. According to the federal government, twice as much was spent on education per pupil in Kosovo than elsewhere in Yugoslavia.. Miranda Vickers, "The Status of Kosovo in Socialist Yugoslavia," Bradford Studies on South Eastern Europe, no. 1 (1994), 28.

60. Prifti, "Kosova's Economy," 148.

61. Logoreci, "A Clash Between Two Nationalisms," 190.

62. Interviews by author.

63. The original figures for the academic year 1981-82 set the number of students at some 45,000, but that figure was changed to 20,434 currently enrolled students at the University of Pristina and 8,174 enrolled in other institutions of higher learning in Kosovo. Hugh Poulton, The Balkans: Minorities and States in Conflict (London: Minority Rights Group, 1991), 61. Poulton observes, "Whatever the actual figure, it was a far higher percentage than for other areas in the country.

64. Josip Broz Tito, Borba za novi svet (The Struggle for a New World) (Belgrade: Pres kliping, 1982), 234.

65. Crampton, R. J. Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century (New York and London: Routledge, 1994), 387.

66. Interviews by author with numerous participants in the demonstrations.

67. See remembrances of former students in chapter one.

68. A minority of people interviewed recall that at these early demonstrations some students even called for Kosovo to become a republic within Yugoslavia. Most of the interviewees thought that the cry for a "Kosovo Republic!" was not heard until the next wave of demonstrations.

69. Tanjug, March 12, 1981.

70. Young Serbs and Albanians alike say that the long-lasting curfew had a profound influence on their development by disrupting their childhood and adolescence. See remembrances of Kosovo Serbs and Albanians in chapter one.

71. Vickers, The Status of Kosovo, 30.

72. Repishti, "Human Rights and the Albanian Nationality," 259.

73. Ibid.

74. NIN, April 12, 1981.

75. Interviews by author.

76. See, e.g. Tanjug, October 29, 1981.

77. Indeed, the author has interviewed many people who were arrested even though they were not the organizers of any demonstrations.

78. For one account, see Christopher Bennett, Yugoslavia's Bloody Collapse: Causes, Course and Consequences (New York: New York University Press, 1995), 89.

79. Amnesty International, Yugoslav Prisoners of Conscience (London: Amnesty International, 1985), 12.

80. Vickers, The Albanians, 205.

81. Interviews by author.

82. Such a change, some commentators have warned, would not only have disrupted the operations of Macedonia but also destabilized Yugoslavia's relations with Greece and Bulgaria, countries that have long disputed the boundaries of Macedonia. See Peter Prifti, The Kosovo (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Center for International Studies, 1972), 267.

83. Repishti, "Human Rights and the Albanian Nationality," 258.

84. Rilindja, April 7, 1981. Emphasis added.

85. Ibid. Note that self-management was one of the unique components of the Yugoslav system. See the 1974 constitution. Vojin Dimitrijevic has described the system of self-management as "atomized and incomprehensible and, as such, unable to influence political decisionmaking." Dimitrijevic, "The 1974 Constitution and Constitutional Process," 71.

86. Vjesnik, April 16, 1981.

87. Mihailo Crnobrnja, The Yugoslav Drama, 2d ed. (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1996), 125.

88. Irwin, " Law, Legitimacy and Yugoslav National Dissent," 181.

89. This conclusion is drawn from author's interviews with members of these groups.

90. As one Kosovo Albanian leader explained, "The issue isn't religion. Serbs think of religion as a 'second level ethnic difference'--in other words, an important signifier of ethnicity. Albanians have always been defined by language, history and a common way of life--not by religion." Risa Sapunxhiu, a former World Bank official and Kosovo's representative on Yugoslavia's federal collective Presidency until his forced resignation in March 1991. Interview by author in Pristina in 1995.

91. Gzime Starova, "The Religion of the Albanians in the Balkan European Context," Balkan Forum (Skopje) 1, no. 4 (September 1993), 201-4.

92. Dusan T. Batakovic, The Kosovo Chronicles (Belgrade: Plato, 1992), 212.

93. Ibid., 213. See also Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York : Simon & Schuster, 1996). A critique of this thesis is beyond the scope of the present project.

94. Dusan Janjic offers a longer and slightly different list in "Socialism, Federalism and Nationalism in (the Former) Yugoslavia: Lessons to Be Learned," Journal of Area Studies, no. 3 (1993), 116, n. 14. See also Radovan Petrovic, "Kontrarevolucionarne akcije nacionalista i iredentista na Kosovu--Napad na bratstvo-jedinstvo i integritet SFRJ," Bezbednost (Belgrade) 1-2 (1982), 191.

95. Poulton, The Balkans, 62. The author's own interviews indicated the existence of all of these organizations except for the Red Front, and also the existence of other pro-Republic cliques (not large enough to be called groups) that either did not have names or that had names that the members do not wish to reveal. As the goals of Kosovo have shifted, these groups have been transformed as well.

96. Poulton, The Balkans, 62.

97. Interview by author. See chapter one, stories of the demonstration.

98. Interview by author.

99. Interview by author.

100. Interview by author.

101. Mahmut Bakali is one of the those who has said that the Serbian secret police was involved. Interview by author.

102. Ivo Banac, With Stalin Against Tito: Cominformist Splits in Yugoslav Communism (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1988), 267.

103. About the Events in Kosova: Articles from "Zeri i popullit" and Other Press Organs (Tirana: The 8 Nentori Publishing House, 1981), 3. An earlier collection of articles from Tirana can be found in The Truth about the Plight of the Albanians in Jugoslavia (Tirana: Zeri i Popullit, 1961).

104. Ibid.

105. Ibid., 5-19 (translation of "Why Were Police Violence and Tanks Used Against the Albanians in Kosovo?" Zeri i Popullit, April 8, 1981).

106. Ibid., 3.

107. Ibid., 13 (Zeri i Popullit, April 8, 1981).

108. Ibid.

109. Ibid., 20-41, 26 (citing "Who Incites Hostility Amongst the Peoples of Yugoslavia?" Zeri i Popullit, April 23, 1981).

110. Ibid., 13 (Zeri i Popullit, April 8, 1981).

111. Ibid., 4.

112. Vickers, The Albanians, 213.

113. Out of the fifty-some people the author interviewed about their participation in the demonstrations, none said they wanted unification with Albania. Gale Stokes has similarly observed that "from the initial riots in 1968, through the second wave of the demonstrations in 1981, right up to the civil war of 1991, the leaders of every major Albanian movement stoutly denied any interest in joining Albania and demanded only that Kosova become a republic in Yugoslavia." Gale Stokes, The Walls Came Tumbling Down: The Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 232.

114. Vickers, The Albanians, 204.

115. Bahri Cani and Cvijetin Milivojevic, Kosmet ili Kosova (Belgrade: NEA, 1996), 96. In 1981, Vllasi was president of the Socialist Youth of Yugoslavia. Later he would be president of the Provincial Conference of the Socialist League of Working People of Kosovo.

116. Ibid.

117. Interviews by author. These Kosovar Albanians either had emigrated "permanently" or, more likely, were temporarily staying in Albania while studying or simply waiting for the wave of repression to pass.

118. Cominform was the International Communist Movement orchestrated from Moscow. Following Tito's break with Stalin in 1948, Cominformists in Yugoslavia were arrested en masse, tortured and imprisoned under extremely harsh conditions. See Ivo Banac, With Stalin Against Tito; Mirko Vidovic, "Tito's Gulag and Human Rights," in Human Rights in Yugoslavia, eds. Gruenwald and Rosenblum-Cale, 118. See also Hamilton Fish Armstrong, Tito and Goliath (New York: Macmillan, 1951), and Milovan Djilas, Tito: The Story from the Inside (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980). The Cominformists became active again in the 1970s, holding a secret meeting in Bar in 1974 where they announced the creation of a new "Yugoslav Communist Party." Pasic, "Political Persecutions in Yugoslavia," 82.

119. Prifti, The Kosovo, 267 (citing Louis Zanga, "The Meaning of the Latest Demonstrations in Kosovo," RFE Research Report 115 (January 3, 1975), 3-7).

120. Dennison Rusinow, The Yugoslav Experiment: 1948-1974 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977), 224.

121. "The Events in Kosova and the Secret Soviet-Great-Serb Collaboration," Zeri i Popullit, June 5, 1981 (as translated and reprinted in About the Events in Kosova, 104-12).

122. Ibid., 107.

123. Pedro Ramet, "Yugoslavia 1982: Political Ritual, Political Drift, and the Fetishization of the Past," South Slav Journal 5, no. 3 (17)(autumn 1982), 15.

124. Repishti, "Human Rights and the Albanian Nationality," 260.

125. ATA (Tirana), 6 January 1991, trans. in FBIS Daily Report (Eastern Europe), 9 January 1981, 16.

126. In interviews with over one hundred Kosovo Serbs and Albanians, most people point to 1981 as the time in which their personal relations with members of the other group soured.

127. Ibid.

128. Vickers, "The Status of Kosovo," 206.

129. Vickers, The Albanians, 206, citing Steven K. Pavlowitch, The Improbable Survivor: Yugoslavia and Its Problems: 1918-1988 (London: Hurst, 1988), 87). See also chapter 2, note 78. For historical analysis, see also Vuckovic and Nikolic, Stanovnistvo Kosova, 47; B. Peruncic, Pisma srpskih konzula iz Pristine, 1890-1910 (Belgrade: Narodna Knjiga, 1985).

130. Prifti, "Kosova's Economy," 144; Vuckovic and Nikolic, Stanovnistvo Kosova, 147.

131. See Hivzi Islami, Demographic Reality in Kosova (Pristina: Kosova Information Center, n.d.). Hivzi Islami has written that after 1981 Albanians left due to police pressure and thus were political refugees. In 1996, he estimated that 400,000 Albanians from Kosovo and from other parts of the former Yugoslavia were working in Europe, with about 120,000 in Germany, 95,000 in Switzerland and 35,000 in Sweden. Hivzi Islami, "Demographic Problems of Kosova and Other Ethnic Albanian Territories," in The Kosova Issue: A Historic and Current Problem (Tirana: Institute of History, 1996), 143.

132. The thesis that Serbs and Montenegrins suffered from a "system of discrimination" that forced them to leave was developed in a sociological study completed for the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. See Ruza Petrovic and Marina Blagojevic, Migracije Srba i Crnogoraca sa Kosova i Metohije (Belgrade: SANU, 1989). An English summary can be found in Marina Blagojevic, "Serbian Migrations from Kosovo from the End of the '60s: Social Factors," reprinted from Serbs and Albanians in the 20th Century (academic conferences of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, vol. LXI, Department of Historical Sciences, no. 20) (Belgrade, 1991).

133. Tanjug, June 23, 1981.

134. Repishti, "Human Rights and the Albanian Nationality," 263.

135. The Code for Petty Offenses allowed for fines or imprisonment for up to sixty days. Poulton, The Balkans, 61.

136. Repishti, "Human Rights and the Albanian Nationality," 262-63 (citing Rilindja, June 9, 1981).

137. Logoreci, "A Clash Between Two Nationalisms," 191.

138. "More Than 300 Persons Were Sentenced," New York Times, October 19, 1981, A4.

139. Poulton, The Balkans, 61.

140. Oskar Gruenwald, "Yugoslavia's Gulag Archipelago and Human Rights," in Human Rights in Yugoslavia, eds. Oskar Gruenwald and Karen Rosenblum-Cale (New York: Irvington Publishers, 1986), 19.

141. See chapter one for one story.

142. See Kosta Mihailovic and Vasilije Krestic, Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts: Answers to Criticisms (Belgrade: Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 1995), 127.

143. Branka Magas, The Destruction of Yugoslavia: Tracking the Break-Up, 1980-1992 (London: Verso, 1993), 12-13.

144. Poulton, The Balkans, 63.

145. Interview by author.

146. Interview by author.

147. See Popovic, Janca and Petrovar, eds., Kosovskicvor, 16.

148. Interview by author.

149. Vickers, "The Status of Kosovo," 32.

150. Interview with Serbian opposition politician in 1994: "To be in politics today, you must spit on Kosovo."

151. Vickers, The Albanians, 206.

152. Vickers, "The Status of Kosovo," 35 (citing Vjesnik, May 8, 1981).

153. Stevan Moljevic, "Homogena Srbija," Zbornik dokumenata i podataka o narodnooslobodilackom ratu naroda Jugoslavije (Belgrade) 14(2) (1981), 1-10.

154. Interview by author.

155. U.S. State Department, Country Reports for Human Rights Practices 1981, 920.

156. Interview by author.

157. Interview by author.

158. Riza Sapunxhiu is also one of Kosovo's most accomplished economists. In 1981, he was vice-president of the economy. In 1982, he became an official at the World Bank.

159. Interview by author.

160. Interview by author.

161. Mark Thompson, A Paper House: The Ending of Yugoslavia (London: Vintage, 1992), 128.

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