|Former leader of Self-Determination|
2004 – 29 February 2015
|Succeeded by||Visar Ymeri|
24 March 1975 |
|Spouse(s)||Rita Augestad Knudsen|
|Alma mater||University of Pristina|
Albin Kurti (born 24 March 1975 in Prishtina, Kosovo [a]) is the leading activist and former leader of Vetëvendosje!, and Deputy at Assembly of Kosovo. He came to prominence in 1997 as the vice-president the University of Pristina Student Union, and a main organiser of non-violent demonstrations in 1997 and 1998. When Adem Demaçi became the political representative of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), Kurti worked in his office.
In April 1999, during the NATO's air strikes on Yugoslavia he was arrested and beaten by Yugoslav forces. Later that year he was charged with "jeopardizing Yugoslavia's territorial integrity and conspiring to commit an enemy activity linked to terrorism", which carried a maximum penalty of 20 years' imprisonment, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. During the trial he refused to recognise the legitimacy of court
"This trial has nothing common with the truth and with the justice. This trial serves to the daily politics of Milošević, who occupied Kosovo". When convicted he said, "It is not important if you convict me or how long. Everything I have said and done I did voluntarily and with dignity, I'm proud for this and if I would have the chance I would do it again."
He was freed in December 2001 by Yugoslavia's post-Milošević government amid international pressure. Since his release, he has worked outside party politics in Kosovo but has been a severe critic of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and of corruption. He organised non-violent protests in support of the families of those whose relatives disappeared in the war, and in favour of Kosovo's self-determination. On 23 April 2003 he graduated with a degree in Computer and Telecommunications Sciences from the Universiteti i Prishtinës (University of Pristina). He was an activist for the Action for Kosovo Network (AKN), which was formed in 1997, and is a movement whose mission focusing on human rights and social justice; education; culture and art.
On 12 June 2005 AKN activists wrote the slogan "No negotiations, Self-Determination" on the on walls of UNMIK buildings. The police with the help of UN Police, arrested, jailed and convicted hundreds of activists, including Kurti. The Self-Determination Movement demanded a referendum on the status of Kosovo, stating "only with a referendum as a use of international right for self-determination, we can realise a democratic solution for Kosovo instead of negotiations which compromise freedom".
In February 2007 when UN police from Romania killed two unarmed protesters and injured 80 others with plastic and rubber bullets at a Vetëvendosje! rally, Kurti was arrested. He was detained until July, and then kept under house arrest. Amnesty International criticised the irregularities in his prosecution. He was eventually sentenced to nine months. Kurti remains an advocate of "active nonviolent resistance".
In 2010, Albin Kurti appeared in the feature documentary film My Blood My Compromise as a key activist describing the events that lead to Kosovo's declaration of independence which was adopted on February 17, 2008.
On 31 December 2011, he was voted "Personality of the Year" on Albanian Television Network's Top Media. On 14 January 2012, Vetëvendosje! organised a peaceful demonstration but the police again used force, allegedly with orders from Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi and Minister of Internal Affairs Bajram Rexhepi.