Bajram Curri

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Statue of Bajram Curri.
This page is about the Albanian national hero - for the town named after him, see Bajram Curri (town).

Bajram Curri (1862[1] or 1866[2] – March 29, 1925) was an Albanian chieftain, politician and activist who struggled for the independence of Albania, later struggling for Kosovo's incorporation into it following the 1913 Treaty of London. He was posthumously given the title Hero of Albania.

Early life[edit]

Bajram Curri was born in 1862 or 1866. Most of the sources place year of birth as 1862, while more recent sources based on his recently discovered passport state 1866.[2] His family originated in Krasniq (present Tropojë), then region of Gjakova, Kosovo.[3] At his birth, the Curri family was led to the Ottoman prison in Krushë e Madhe, Rahovec; his father Shaqir Aga had led a rebellion in Krasniq against the Ottomans due to heavy taxes and military recruitment, and had been interned by them.[4] Shaqir Aga Curri was a trusted man of Abdullah Pasha Dreni of Gjakova, and apparently had become instrumental in tax-collection procedures and punishing expeditions of Pasha Dreni in the area. He aided Pasha Dreni during the Attack against Mehmed Ali Pasha, and was killed in the skirmish by the forces of the League of Prizren.[5][6][7]

Career[edit]

Whilst the present-day regions of Albania and Serbia were under Ottoman control, Curri represented the interests of the Albanians.

Between 1885-1886, he got into a feud with Riza Bey Gjakova that lasted for a decade and was only ended through an envoy sent by the sultan who conferred upon each man a military command and rank with Curri becoming a captain of the gendarmerie in Pristina.[8] To govern, Sultan Abdulhamid II used patronage networks by awarding privileges and government positions to co opt local leaders such as Curri into the Ottoman system.[9] In 1893 he participated in a revolt in Kosovo led by Haxhi Zeka, which was quickly suppressed by the Ottoman army.[10] During 1899 he became a founding member of Zeka's League of Peja.[11] In 1906 he became one of the founders of the Gjakovë branch of the Secret Committee for the Liberation of Albania.[12][13]

Like many educated Albanians at the time, Curri initially supported the public aims of the Young Turks including their promises to respect Albanian traditions and right to bear arms, and for this reason Curri together with Nexhip Draga assisted them in the Young Turk Revolution. During the Ottoman countercoup of 1909, among the 15,000 volunteers assisting the larger Ottoman army Curri along with Çerçiz Topulli mobilized 8,000 Albanians that put down the revolt in Istanbul.[14] The repressive activities and broken promises of the Young Turks, however, led Curri to resume militant activities against the Ottoman authorities.[15] In 1912, due to the deteriorating situation between Albanians and Ottoman authorities, Curri alongside other Albanian leaders were present at a meeting in Junik on 20 May where a besa (pledge) was given to wage war on the Young Turk government.[16][17] He had an active role in the Albanian Revolt of 1912, fighting alongside Hasan Prishtina, Isa Boletini, Themistokli Gërmenji and others against the Turks.[18] On August 18, the moderate faction led by Prishtina managed to convince Curri, and other leaders Idriz Seferi, Riza Bey Gjakova and Isa Boletini of the conservative group to accept the agreement with the Ottomans for Albanian sociopolitical and cultural rights.[19][20] He successfully fought in 1912 against the Young Turks. During the 1912 uprising, while waiting for an Ottoman response to the demands of the rebels, Curri and other leaders of the rebellion ordered their forces to advance toward Üsküb (modern Skopje) which was captured during August 12-15.[21]

During World War I, he organized a guerrilla unit as part of the Kachak movement through the Committee for the National Defence of Kosovo which he was a member.[22] On 20 October 1914, 1,000 Albanians, led by Bajram Curri, Isa Boletini, Bulgarian komitadjis and Austro-Hungarian officers, attacked a Montenegrin base near Gjakova, and took two hill artillery pieces with them. The Montenegrin army then surrounded and defeated them, and pushed them into Albanian territory.[23]

In 1915 he became a founding member of the Committee for the National Defence of Kosovo.[24] This organization later established relations with the Comintern (which gave support for the self-determination of nations), with Curri later saying in December 1921 to the Soviet minister in Vienna that, "The Albanian people await impatiently the determination of their frontiers not on the basis of brutal and bloody historical considerations, but rather on the basis of the situation which actually exists today. With the firm conviction that Soviet Russia will be able in the near future to determine the boundaries of Europe, especially in the Balkans, in a just manner, I pray that the great Soviet government will grant our just requests at that time."[25]

Following the Congress of Lushnja in 1920 he became a minister without portfolio in the Albanian cabinet.[11] In Albania's politics he identified himself with the left-wing forces of Fan Noli against Ahmet Zogu.[26] In December 1921 he became Minister of War in the unstable government of Hasan Prishtina, replacing Zogu. Within days, however, Zogu assembled his fellow Mati tribesmen and overthrew the government, forcing Prishtina, Curri and others to flee northwards.[27] In March 1922 Curri and Prishtina began a revolt against Zogu which failed to succeed. The revolt was crushed, 8 March 1922, by the captain Prenk Pervizi, owing to the efforts of the British ambassador to Albania, Harry Eyres, who convinced one of the rebel commanders to surrender.[28] Two years later, having stayed in the meantime in the mountains in order to evade Zogist forces, he issued the call to arms which began the Bourgeois-Democratic Revolution of June 1924 against Zogu.[29][30]

Following the defeat of the revolution Curri continued his opposition to Zogu. On March 29, 1925 he was surrounded by Zogist troops while hiding in a cave near Dragobia. Rather than face capture he committed suicide.[11] Years later Dragobia was renamed after him.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Paul G. Partington (1979), Who's Who on the Postage Stamps of Eastern Europe, Scarecrow Press, Incorporated, p. 79
  2. ^ a b Një foto e rrallë, Bajram Curri i vrarë te shpella e Dragobisë [A rare photo, Bajram Curri killed at Dragobi cave] (in Albanian), Koha, 2013-08-02
  3. ^ foto e rrallë e heroit Article in Shekulli3
  4. ^ Aleks Buda (2000), Shkrime historike, 4, Shtëpia Botuese "8 Nëntori", p. 171, ISBN 978-99927-1-274-0, Bajram Curri lindi më 1862 në rrugën për në burg në Gjakovë, ku po e shpinin familjen e tij nga Krasniqja turqit si hakmarrje kundër të atit, që kish udhëhequr një nga kryengritjet e shumta të malësorëve kundër taksave të rënda dhe rekrutimit ...
  5. ^ Shukri Rahimi (1969), Vilajeti i Kosovës më 1878-1912, Enti i Teksteve dhe i Mjeteve Mësimore i Krahinës Socialiste Autonome të Kosovës, p. 61, OCLC 3878952
  6. ^ Recherches albanologiques: Folklore et ethnologie, Instituti Albanologijik i Prishtinës, 1979, p. 28, ISSN 0350-7998, OCLC 260175827
  7. ^ Ali Hadri (1976), Kosova, 5, Enti i Historisë së Kosovës, p. 240, OCLC 4032760
  8. ^ Gawrych 2006, pp. 133-134.
  9. ^ Gawrych 2006, p. 139.
  10. ^ Malcolm, Noel. Kosovo: A Short History. New York: New York University Press. 1999. p. 232.
  11. ^ a b c Elsie, p. 93.
  12. ^ Vickers, Miranda. The Albanians: A Modern History. New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd. 1999. p. 51.
  13. ^ Skendi 1967, p. 209.
  14. ^ Gawrych 2006, p. 167.
  15. ^ Elsie, p. 93, Malcolm pp. 237-238.
  16. ^ Skendi 1967, p. 428.
  17. ^ Gawrych 2006, p. 192.
  18. ^ Pollo, Stefanaq & Arben Puto. The History of Albania: From its Origins to the Present Day. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd. 1981. p. 144. Vickers, pp. 65-66.
  19. ^ Skendi 1967, p. 437.
  20. ^ Gawrych, George (2006). The Crescent and the Eagle: Ottoman rule, Islam and the Albanians, 1874–1913. London: IB Tauris. p. 195. ISBN 9781845112875.
  21. ^ Skendi, Stavro (1967). The Albanian national awakening. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 436. ISBN 9781400847761.
  22. ^ Jacques, Edwin E. The Albanians: An Ethnic History from Prehistoric Times to the Present Vol. 2. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. 1995. p. 383. Elsie, Robert. A Biographical Dictionary of Albanian History. London: I.B. Tauris. 2012. p. 93.
  23. ^ "Наше бојиште: Борба са Арнаутима", Стража (276), p. 3, 22 October 1914
  24. ^ Vickers, p. 91.
  25. ^ Pano, Nicholas C. The People's Republic of Albania. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Press. 1968. pp. 27-28.
  26. ^ Vickers, p. 101. Pollo & Puto, pp. 187-188.
  27. ^ Vickers, pp. 104-105.
  28. ^ Vickers, p. 106. Malcolm, p. 277.
  29. ^ Pollo & Puto, p. 192. Vickers, p. 111.
  30. ^ Pjeter Hidri, Gjeneral Prenk Pervizi, Toena, Tirana, 2002.