Message Orhan Rexhepi
yesterday I spoke with the President of the Council for Human Rights Belgzim Kamberi and next few days he will prepare an adequate report for human rights in the Presheva Valley.
What you think, would have been nice that this Council for Human Rights to address U.S. Congress (House Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats) that a delegation of their to visit Presheva Valley.Best
The response of Shirley Cloyes
Thank you for your update. I look forward to receiving the report that Belgzim Kamberi will prepare on human rights in the Presheva Valley.However, I must add that the information that we need goes beyond the status of Albanian human rights. It involves the political arena. In your recent email to me, you described how the three major parties in the Presheva Valley have been complicit with Belgrade and how they have divided the Albanian population into three parts. Meanwhile, I know that none of them have been in communication with the Civic League, and we are the only group, from the time that Joe DioGuardi was a Member of the US House of Representatives that has been able to get Congressional hearings conducted on Albanian issues. (The first hearing was achieved by hard work from Joe and assistance from the late Congressman Tom Lantos in 1987).
But to get a hearing takes an incredible amount of time and unpaid work on our part (which after almost 25 years is no longer possible). More important, lobbying members of Congress is critical to getting a hearing and US government support. Only one Member of Congress, Dana Rohrabacher, has responded to the situation in Presheva, as you know. And Presheva is not on the front burner of US government concerns (Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea are on the front burner). It took me a year to get the April 24th hearing on Kosova, which was possible because of the internationally publicized talks between Belgrade and Prishtina, and I know that Dana Rohrabacher will not be able to hold another hearing for some time to come unless something considered of great importance by the US government occurs in Albanian lands. For the same reasons, we cannot expect Congress to bring a delegation to the Presheva Valley.
It also takes money to bring people from overseas locations to testify before Congress. The Civic League, along with Joe and me personally, have donated money for years to make this possible. The diaspora has to be willing to help, and ever since I became involved in the Albanian dimension of the Balkan conflict in 1994, none of the people in the American diaspora from Presheva, Medvegje, and Bujanocv have been willing to do anything.
Meanwhile, too many Albanians have taken for granted the work that the Civic League has done to get independence for Kosova, and too many Albanian politicians throughout the Balkans have been busy lining their pockets with money rather than doing the work of public servants to help the people. In 2001, Senator Biden warned that Albanian lands would become a backwater for the Western world for another 100 years if Albanians failed to build on the NATO bombing that freed Kosova from Serbian occupation and genocide.
Albanians for the most part have failed to build on the kind of Congressional support that the Civic League achieved over almost 25 years. It is the Congress, not the State Department, that brought change to Albanian lands. (The State Department was completely pro-Belgrade until the 2005 hearing that we had on Kosova, and now they have given a backseat to Europe.) Tragically, two of the Members of Congress that the Civic League educated, and who both became Chairs of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Tom Lantos and Henry Hyde, died in 2008.
So now, whoever in the Presheva Valley can make a difference for the better has to develop a strategy and a plan of action. A report on human rights is a good contribution to this process, but it is only a first step. And members of the diaspora and Albanian politicians have to be willing to finance a plan and regularly exchange detailed information. People forget that it took from 1987 to 2008, with Joe in Congress and then with the lobbying work of the Civic League, to achieve independence for Kosova. Unfortunately Kosova is now independent in name only—not just because of Serbia’s efforts to turn the clock back but the failure of Albanians to do the hard work over time to free Albanians from oppression and repression once and for all.
I need to close here.
Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi
Balkan Affairs Adviser
Albanian American Civic League