Bajram Kelmendi

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Bajram Kelmendi (1937–1999) was an ethnic Albanian lawyer and human rights activist in Kosovo, Yugoslavia.


He was born into an ethnic Albanian family near Peć, part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. His surname is derived from an ancestor hailing from the Kelmend region in northwest Albania. At the age of eighteen (in 1955), he was sentenced to one year in prison for criticizing the forced expulsion of Albanians to Turkey. Later he studied law.

Kelmendi was among the founders of Council for Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms in Pristina and on 3 May 1998 filed charges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague against Slobodan Milošević for crimes committed in Kosovo. At the beginning for the bombing campaign of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), on 24 March 1999, the Serbian police broke into his home and arrested him and his two sons, Kastriot and Kushtrim. When his wife Nekibe asked the policemen about their location, they responded by telling her "to ask NATO".[1] The next day their bodies were found shot dead in a gas station near Prishtina.[2] An eyewitness of the murder reported that Kelmendi before his death was asked to kill one of his sons and vice versa. As the orders of the policemen were refused they killed Kastriot and Kushtrim and about thirty seconds later Bajram Kelmendi.[3] Before his death Kelmendi had defended many political prisoners as well as an Albanian-language newspaper closed by the Serbian police.

After the war Nekibe Kelmendi (1944-2011) was elected a deputy of the Democratic League of Kosovo and served as Minister of Justice of Kosovo from 2008 to 2010.


  1. ^ Human rights watch world report, 2000. Human Rights Watch. 1999-12-01. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-56432-238-8. Retrieved 14 January 2012. 
  2. ^ Amnesty International, PUBLIC STATEMENT
  3. ^ Krieger, Heike (2001). The Kosovo conflict and international law: an analytical documentation 1974-1999. Cambridge University Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-521-80071-6. Retrieved 14 January 2012. 

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