Kosovo 1981 Demonstrations
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Provenance and cultural activities
The 1980s found Albanians in Kosovo in interesting social, political, and psychological circumstances. Two diametrically opposed dogmatic currents took shape: “illegal groups”, supported predominantly by students, demanded the proclamation of the Republic of Kosovo and/or Kosovo’s unification with Albania. On the other side of the spectrum were “modernists”, among others comprising the political and academic elites, pushing for improved rights of Kosovars (Albanians in Kosovo) guaranteed under the concept of “brotherhood and unity” advocated by the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY).
Stretching beyond simply academics, the demands for better food and dormitory conditions shown in the collection also points out the intense commitment of the students in the slogans often articulated in nationalist terms.
The demonstrations of March and April 1981 in Pristina started as student mobilization for better living conditions and ended up as a popular movement advocating for the cause of the Republic of Kosovo. However, the political demands of Kosovan Albanian students led to, in part, the heavy-handed reactions from the authorities. A report sent by Kosovo authorities at the time to the SFRY Presidency after the demonstrations specifies 9 killed (8 protesters and 1 police officer), 75 wounded as calculated on the basis of those who requested medical assistance (55 from automatic gunfire), 127 police officers wounded (three seriously), 1 police car burned, 4 damaged by fire, and 12 with broken glass. In addition, 28 people were formally indicted by the court, police reports were filed against 193 people, 807 persons were arrested, 689 were officially warned, 544 small arms were confiscated (noting 66 people who did not have permission to carry weapons), and 1,485 bullets of different calibers were seized.
The materials from this collection are kept in the Kosovo Archives (Arkiva e Kosovës). The materials are spread across different fonds, primarily the Pristina Archives, Central Committee of the League of Communists of Kosovo fond, year 1981 (Arkivi i Prishtinës, fodni Komiteti krahinor i lidhjes së komunistëve të Kosovës, viti 1981) and Pristina Archives, Rilindja newspaper fond, year 1981 (Arkivi i Prishtinës, fondi gazata ‘Rilindja’, viti 1981).
The abovementioned fonds contain items that the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Kosovo and the Rilindja newspaper provided to the Pristina Archives. Public institutions submit documents to the Kosovo Archives every 20 years.
Description of content
While the ‘Rilindja’ fond contains mainly newspaper articles and interviews of political and academic elites condemning the demonstrations, the largest part of the fond of Central Committee of the League of Communists of Kosovo (year 1981) consists of notes, documents, meeting minutes, and official reports regarding their monitoring of different localities in Kosovo. The archival materials in Kosovo are not clearly and systematically arranged either thematically or chronologically. This hampers research, but one can still access the collection and search each box individually. Some of the boxes might not possess material relevant to these student demonstrations.
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 10-99
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 10-99
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
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Important events in the history of the collection
- visits by appointments
Atdhe Hetemi (2017): Student movements in Kosova (1981): academic or nationalist?
Nationalities Papers, DOI: 10.1080/00905992.2017.1371683 To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/00905992.2017.1371683
Author(s) of this page
- Hetemi, Atdhe
Archive of Prishtina, fond Central Committee of the Kosovo’s Communist League [Arkivi i Prishtinës, fodni Komiteti krahinor i lidhjes së komunistëve të Kosovës]
Archive of Prishtina, fond fond Newspaper ‘Rilindja’ [Arkivi i Prishtinës, fondi gazata ‘Rilindja’]
Atdhe Hetemi (2017): Student movements in Kosova (1981): academic or
nationalist?, Nationalities Papers, DOI: 10.1080/00905992.2017.1371683
Panxha, Ruxhdi, interview by Hetemi, Atdhe, November 29, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection