By Sali BOLLATI/First and foremost I want to salute Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj and NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman together with the Staff of the Museum of the Jewish Heritage; as Initiators of this very important and meaningful event in the Recognation the role of the Albanians in saving the Jewish Population from the Nazi regime during the WWII
Want to salute the presence of H.E Prime Minister E.Rama, and all those present and want to welcome in discussing this Issue of the Human Right.
My name is Sali Bollati, born in the Albanian Region of Chameria.
The Albanian Region of Chameria comprises the Southern part of the Albanian ethnic territories, inhabited by Albanians since the ancient times (Pellasgo-Illyrian times), until today. Even the ancient historians Strabony and Plutarch, wrote that the inhabitants of Epir -Chameria spoke a “barbarian” language, because their mother tongue wasn’t Greek. The Cham Dialect is one of the oldest of the Albanian language
Due to the High Level of Protesting and the Determination of this Region to Initiate a Military Resistance; the International Congress of Berlin at 1879 revoked its earlier Decision to give this region to Greece. Dispute this, under the Florence Protocol following the unjust decision of London Conference in 913 the Chameria Region was annexed to Greece
Starting 1913 until the year 1945 the Greek authorities used persecution, confiscation of the properties, forced population movement, mass killing and denial of schools and teaching in the Albanian language. Due to the continuous protests from this region and the support od the Albanian Government at the League of Nations in the period 1920-1030, the Greek government was forced to stop the replacement of Albanians with the Greeks expulsed from the Asia Minor in 1923-1924.
In 1944-1945, this Albanian-inhabited Region, became the theater of premeditated series of mass killing, rapes, tortures and expulsion by the
Regular and irregular Greek forces commanded by the general Zerva; so began a campaign of ethnic cleansing by initially attacking on the my town, Paramithia on 27 June,1944. The campaing lasted until March 1945 with massacres of Filati. Incomplete figures indicate that at least 5.000 innocent Albanians, in majority women, children and elder people were massacred, 745 women were raped, 88 villages were destroyed and 102 mosques and centers of worship were burned. In the end over 30.000 Albanian Chamis were forcefully expelled to Albania.
A document of the U.S. Department of State Nr. 84/3, Tirana Mission 1945-1946; reports that: “ According to all information I have been able to gather on the Cham Issue, in 1944 nd during the first months of 1945, the Greek authorities in north-western Greece perpetrated savage brutality by evicting 30.000 Chams, residents of Chameria, from their homes, where they have been living for centuries, chasing the across the border after having robed them of their land and properties. Most of the young people were killed because the majority of the refugees were old folk and children”.
Today, Chamis population is about 300.000; more than 200.000 live in Albania. A part of them, who were born in Greece, still have their houses an properties there.
Can anyone believe nowadays that exist a government ,like Greek “democratic” government that doesn’t permit Chamis at least to visit their lands, to put a bunch of flowers to the places where their grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters died; to watch an olive or orange tree they planted themselves?
Chameria is not a phantasm to obscure friendship between Albanians and Greeks; on the contrary, when nations relieve their souls from the old burdens-the Greek nation must feel ashamed for the tragedy that happened to Cham population-only in this manner those people would respect and love each other more. Politicians in Albania and Greece to be more comprehensive about the past, in manner to build friendly bridges with the spirit o understanding between Albanians in general, including Cham Albanians, with the Greek people.
Dear friends, I want to apologize for my long discussion, but to say the truth, this opportunity created today by honorable dear friends Mr. Mark Gjonaj and Mr Eric Schneiderman together with the Staff of the Museum of the Jewish Heritage; to meet and discuss together as real friends, gives me Hope that one day in this path we can discuss and help to resolve the Cham Albanian Issue.
We as AAO Chameria, last years prepared a short color film “ The Chamerias Dream” in English language, that is liked and highly estimated. If the staff of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, please have the kindness to reveal this film here, will be a greatest gratitude for the Massacred Chamis people, the same as our Jewish brothers
As AAO CHAMERIA, if is a possible, together with Staff of the Museum of the Jewish Heritage, to be held a common Commission; we thanks God are American citizens and to discuss with Foreign State Commission of State Department and Greek Embassy in Washington
Thank you all, very much for your SPIRIT of UNDERSTANDING, THANK YOU!!
New York, Monday April 11, 2016.