Colonisation and Serbianisation of Kosova
(by Kosta Novakovic)
By the end of April I happened to be in Durrs, when the Serbian soldiers got on ships and left for Serbia. Albanian small boys saw off the columns of Serbian soldiers, singing the popular national song:
We aren't Serbs, nor Bulgarians,
We're courageous Albanians....
Instead of the word Greeks the boys put the word Serbs'.
Serbian villagers who constituted the Serbian soldiery, got on ships singing gladly, that finally ended the expedition against Albania, an expedition that they did not understand why it took place. The scolding words of the Albanian boys were not taken badly by Serbian soldiers at all, as they knew quite well they deserved them, and they were quite a weak revenge for their barbarism they had displayed to the Albanian population during six months of Serbian occupation. But behind these Serbian peasants, tired of the war and illnesses, it was the official Serbia that was leaving Albania gnashing its teeth of anger and only because they were forced to by the Ultimatum of the Great Powers and the guns opposite the port of Durrs on the Austria-Hungarian and Italian ships. War operations were finished some time ago. Crushing Albania by the Serbian military was an attempt of Serbian imperialism to take the ports of Shkodra, Durrs and Shn-Gjin. Even though Serbian imperialists were forced to draw back from Albania, the conquest of Shkodra and North Albania is still one of the principal goals of their imperialistic programme. In the Serbian book of military instructions What must I know as a soldier?, appreciated and praised by the Ministry of War by decree I.P., No. 1161, on 23 August, 1912, it reads, All our provinces have not yet been united in our kingdom,... Shkodra, and part of North Albania... The rural Serbia did not exist any more. It lost itself in several tens of years, and in 1912 it disappeared completely. Instead of it, an imperialist Serbia, pan-Serbian, showed up, with its pan-Serbian dynasty and pan-Serbian militarism. This new imperialism, crude, brutal, merciless, dreams of the return of King Duzan's kingdom, and tries to reach within next ten years the imperialist powers that have existed for hundreds of years. The Serbian farmer has been a blind tool of pan-Serbian imperialism, flesh for a gun, an animal without its tail - as the Serbian officers called him - that was forced under the cudgel of the officers to attack with bayonets... and burn and harass the occupied regions.
Serbian imperialist government did not leave anything undone to the Albanians during the occupation. It ordered the rope to rise in dozen of regions of Albania. It massacred, killed and plundered the poor population. It bothered only the poor. The rich, beys, landowners and their property were protected by soldiers, so that farmers could not rise up, and it shared the land with beys and agas...
The first victims of Serbian imperialism were Macedonia and Kosova. However, pan-Serbian imperialists, although forced by the more powerful imperialists to draw back from the Albanian coast, have kept the best and more fertile place of Albania: Kosova. We call Kosova the whole region inhabited by Albanians: Kosova, Metohia and the south part of the old Sanjak to Novi Pazar. More than 500,000 Albanians became slaves of a new ruler. Besides them, there are aditional 150-200 thousand Albanians in Macedonia. That is, there are altogether 650-700 thousand Albanians in Yugoslavia.
Serbianisation of Kosova is the wildest example of a nation in the time of the Balkan War and the Second World War. The wildest terroristic and inquisition methods that were used in Kosova have not been seen either in Eastern Ukraine, or in Bjelorussia that are under Poland, or in Besarabia and Dobrudza that are under Rumania... Only Macedonia can be close to Kosova from this aspect.
When Serbian imperialists invaded Kosova, they informed the world that they would return again their historical rights they had in 1389 (before the battle of Kosova). Basing themselves on these historical rights', either Italy, or France, or Greece, or Turkey could rise and request to get half of Europe, as they had once these regions in their hands. Furthermore, France could request a part of Russia, as Napoleon went once to Moscow in 1812.
But the historical rights' of Serbia on Kosova are still stranger. When the Turkish military in the middle ages arrived to the borders of Austria, the Serbian patriarch Cernojevic and Serbian landowners went on their expense to fight to the benefit of Austria and to defend the rivers of the Danube and Sava. The landowner patriarch had taken with him 170,000 Serbian families from Kosova, mostly farmers and settled them on the land given Austria in Banat and Backa. The place in Kosova that had remained vacant, was gradually occupied by the Albanians that had lived there around, and together with a small number of the Serbs that had remained they worked out the land and made it fertile again! Now after so many hundred years, pan-Serbian imperialists claim that they have their historical rights', both in Backa and Banat where the Serbs of Kosova live, and also in Kosova, which they left that time. This is called historical right! On the basis of such historical rights, Serbian imperialists want to take pan-Serbian Kosova' without Serbs. Kosova is a merely Albanian region, and has only 10 to 15% Serbs settled there in older times.
The first means that Serbian imperialists put in effect were medieval military means, or means of colonial invaders: extermination of population, military operations, disarmament of population, crushing the armed resistance, etc.
In 1912 and 1913, 120,000 Albanians were exterminated - men, women, boys, old men and women, children - hundreds of villages were shot by heavy guns, a large number of them were burned down, more in Kosova and less in Macedonia.
It is to observe that the representative of Russian imperialist tsarist politics, minister of Russia in Belgrade, Hartvig, blessed this policy of extermination that was carried out by Belgrade. The Russian Orthodox Tsar extended his assistance to the Orthodox Serbian brother, king Petar and his son Aleksandar, to exterminate a whole people and expand the Orthodox religion in the Balkans. At least 50,000 Albanians were forced to emigrate to Turkey and Albania and become immigrants, in order to save their lives.
The extermination of the Albanians rarefied Albanian masses in Kosova to a certain degree, but it could not change the Albanian character that Kosova has had. The intention to exterminate the Albanians in Kosova was to settle Serbs instead of them, to colonise Kosova by Serbs, serbisianation of Kosova. Nevertheless, until the end of 1912, owing to great resistance on the part of the Albanians, colonisation made a relatively slow progress. Only a small number of Serbs were settled in the region of Kosova in the first stages.
Here we shall provide some official statistics of Serbian government, that indicate the Albanian character of Kosova. Out of 25,407 rural houses, only 6,311, i.e., only 17% were Serbs in the province of Kosova in 1919. In Kaanik, there were totally 2.5% Serbs in 1924, the rest were Albanians. In the district of Prizren, there were 17% Serbs in 1921. This proportion was similar in the districts of Prishtina, Mitrovica, Gjilan, Peja, and Gjakova, and in some other districts the proportion of the Serbs was even smaller. In 1921, there were mostly 17% Serbs in whole Kosova. The Albanian national resistance was put up in two ways: in the legal way, by the Muslim organisation Cemiyet, and in the revolutionary way, by fighting with arms by Albanian national detachments that are called kaak' (outlaws). We shall speak of Cemiyet later. The Serbian government attempted to present Albanian kaaks' as robbers and put them out of the law. Every governmental service and every Serbian fascist has the right to kill them. Kaaks' in fact are not robbers at all, but they are good Albanian guerrillas. There are people that can sacrifice everything, their houses, property and goods, and go to mountains, form guerrilla detachments and fight against the misdeeds and barbarisms of Serbian military and police. Kaaks' believe they can dislodge the Serbian regime from Kosova in that way.
These national warriors have fought a great fight, a fight that ought to be admired, against very big forces of Serbian gendarmerie and military. The names of Bajram Curri, Azem Bejta and hundreds of other brave men that have fallen at that war, have been carved in the hearts of the Albanians of Kosova.
In 1920 more than 10,000 kaaks' were on the mountains of Kosova. There were 2,000 of them in Llab only. In 1920, in the time of the uprising of Llab, the Serbian military, under the command of colonel Radovan Rodovic, bombarded the big Albanian village of Prapashtica, and all the houses were ruined.
Similar to Llab, Albanian national movements were organised in many other regions of Kosova, and were crushed by great Serbian forces in 1919 and 1924. We can mention here the movements of Plava, Gucia, Rugova in 1919, of Prishtina in 1921, Drenica in 1923, Mitrovica in 1924 and again of Drenica in 1924. By quelling these uprisings, the Serbian military killed 2,600 Albanians.
National resistance in this way was limited to the fights of detachments of kaaks'. According to an official report of Serbian government, there were 1,200 organised kaaks' in detachments in 1924. In 1927, the Serbian police published a report: 310 Albanian kaaks' were killed, 175 caught as prisoners and 626 surrendered.
In 1927, the movement of kaaks' ceased to act, but the spirit of kaaks' lives in every village and will never cease to exist until Kosova is free. The pan-Serbian regime knows this quite well. That is why it has decided to denationalise Kosova totally, not only by crushing wildly the Albanian movement, but also by grabbing their land and colonising Kosova by Serbs. I am going to discuss this matter in the next issue of Liria Kombtare.