By Ajshe Ahmeti
-ORGANIZATION OF THE DEMONSTRATION OF 1968, IN PODUJEVU-
Memorie.al / The demonstrations of November 27, 1968 in Podujevë, were planned for November 8 of that year, the day that a rally was scheduled to be held, on the occasion of the liberation of Podujevë. At that time, I was a student at the “8 Nõntori” gymnasium in Podujevë, I was only 16 years old. Every morning, I had the “household task” of going out to buy groceries for the family at least once a day. Every day, I returned at least once to the tailoring shop of my son-in-law, Avdullah Nishefci, who was more commonly called Avdullah Terzia. One day, as far as I remember, it was September 1968; I did not find Avdullah in the store, where he worked, but in the warehouse, behind the store. I was surprised when I found there, my aunt’s son, the professor and painter Selatin Ahmet. The first thing that caught my attention was a blood-red cloth, lying on a table.
On that red fabric, Selatini drew the double-headed eagle, while Avdullahu filled it with a black color and it was the first time I saw and touched the national flag. That moment can neither be forgotten nor described. This was the first flag, made in Avdullah’s workshop, and this flag, as far as I know, was used in the Podujeva demonstrations. I was young, 16 years old, even before that I respected Avdullah, as a son-in-law, but from this moment, I idealized Avdullah, together with my aunt’s son, the famous professor and painter, Selat Ahmet, and from this moment they became became an inspiration and a guide for me.
I was ready for me to participate in the making of the first flag, which even today I am convinced was probably the first flag that was made by a craftsman, and by a professor from Llapjan. It was as if they had read my thoughts. And at once, they answered me: “We will work on this flag ourselves, while we will work on the other flags together.” So it really happened.
Those were the happiest days for me, I felt myself growing up and doing a great and worthwhile job. Even today, after 40 years, when I go to my sister Sabria and my son-in-law Avdullahu, we could not leave the apartment without looking at and touching the flag of the Podujeva demonstrations, which was also carried by Hasan Shala, the martyr’s brother. , Shaban Shala, during the demonstrations of November 27, 1968, in Podujevë. After that day, I made my visits to Avdullah’s shop even more frequent.
I noticed that many people, known and unknown to me came there. Most were teachers. That I knew them. At first, when I enter the store, they stop talking. One day, after they left, Avdullahu addressed me a little as if seriously. After he was silent for a while, as if in doubt he said to me; “I know you’re a little young, but still, I think you can help us a little.” I was looking forward to being entrusted with a task.
Ever since I saw the red and black flag, it seemed to tell me; something is being prepared, but what I didn’t know and I didn’t have the courage to ask. The first question he asked me was: “Do you trust any friend or classmate, and are you ready to take on any task…”? The question, and the way of the question, that Avdullah asked me, very nice, touched me, Avdullah, I am able to accept any task that is given to me and I am ready and capable, it blows my mind, that I will succeed in every given task, I told him, and I counted some high school friends that he also knew.
After this conversation, Avdullahu began to confide in me some things, I realized that he and some friends were preparing to hold a demonstration on November 8, which was not organized. Why they were not organized, I do not remember in detail. But I remember some moments, which I will tell here below.
November 8 was the anniversary of the manifestation on the day of the liberation of Podjeva, but also the day of the high school “November 8”.
For the school day, at that time we prepared various cultural and sports programs. I was engaged in cultural activities, but due to the tasks that were entrusted to me by Avdullahi, and Hakif Sheholli, who was a friend of Avdullahi, about the organization of the demonstration which was planned to be held on the same date, I quietly withdrew from school activities for the day. In the center of Podjeva, it was decided to hold the popular gathering, on the day mentioned above. The organizers of the demonstration had made the preparations of which I was also informed, and I had the assigned tasks. I was in contact with Avdullah and Hakif Sheholli, I had the duty to signal to Sabit Syla and Bahri Shabani, when they should come to the meeting, with the banners with written slogans, and which were in Avdullah’s store, and that they should to bring them to the meeting, I also have the duty to keep the text – the letter, which had to be read at the meeting.
I also remember one detail: Avdullahu, he entrusted me with a secret and he ordered me to carry it out, he told me; “Ayshe, if they imprison me, or something happens to me, you should know that I wrote a letter and hid it under the oil stove, you should give this to Sabria, (Sabria, my sister, was also Avdullah’s friend), she was in the Hospital, because in those days she gave birth to your son, who was baptized with the name Arben.
After the rally ended, and since the demonstration was not held, I went to school and joined my school friends, who were celebrating with pre-planned festive activities for School Day. My classmate Adilja asked me where I was then; I answered and told her that I was at home because of some of my family obligations.
After that, preparations were made for holding the demonstration on November 27. I remember that later, in addition to me, many other high school students were engaged in the activity of organizing the demonstrations, which took place on November 27. We were all ready to give our maximum contribution, so that the organization of the demonstrations was as massive as possible. The departure for the demonstration was scheduled to take place from the courtyard of the Gymnasium. That was the order of the organizers.
I looked after them in the organization of the demonstration. A few days before the day of the demonstration, I was asked if I could hold the photo of Skenderbeu with Nazife Blaku during the demonstration. I immediately accepted, but Nazifja, I do not accept this task. I told you, since Nazifja is not agreeing to carry the photograph with me, give it to me, that she will carry it herself, but the aforementioned did not agree with this.
At that time, I went to school, on the afternoon shift. The demonstration was scheduled to start at 13.00, with the pretext of including the two honors of the school, the students before the day and after the day. I, like every day also that day, left home to go to school, but I was very worried that the demonstration would fail again. When I got closer to the school, I saw a pretty big movement of people. The organizers of the demonstrations came exactly at the appointed time to the gymnasium courtyard. The column starts from the school, which is preceded by the organizers of the demonstration, with the red and black flag, which was made by Avdullah Nishevci. The eagle was painted by Professor Selatin Ahmeti, as I mentioned above, while the transparencies were written by Hakif Sheholli, Sabit Syla and Bahri Shabani, in Teqe of the city, which they had preserved and taken care of for three days and three nights.
The bearers of the flag and the banners gave a charm and an unprecedented look to the streets of Podjeva. I had never experienced anything more magnificent. After them, we students also lined up, where we were all from my class and many other students and citizens of Llapi. The column with the organizers and others behind them, go towards the center of Podjeva, chanting: “We want self-determination, we want the Republic” and other slogans, and singing patriotic songs, where many voices were heard, but the most prominent of them were those of Esat Mehmet, Selatin Seta, Fatmir Sejdi, Ejup Sheholli, Adile Luta, Nexhmi Rexhepi, Mehmet Blakëqori and many others. The column was directed towards the center of Podjeva.
When we got close to the Commune, I separated from the column and went to the other side of the road, so that my Aunt, Danushi, wouldn’t see me, why was I scared, because she was scolding me. In those moments, I met a student of Serbian nationality, named Rada Marković, who asked me what this is, I answered that; I don’t know and I have no connection. After 2-3 minutes, I attached you to the column again and we continued the demonstration.
That same day, it was the departure day of some boys for military service. Some of them had organized to follow the march with tupana, even tupangjit, joined the demonstrators. That day turned into a big Llapjan wedding, in which many Llapjan citizens were involved, of different age groups, from the oldest to elementary school students.
The demonstration was carried out without incident. We students of the afternoon shift, after the demonstration, continued and went to school, but instead of the classroom, according to the order of the professors, we entered the Physical Education hall. There were several professors, the school director and some representatives from political structures. The leaders of the rally scolded us for participating in the demonstration.
After the meeting, we went to the classrooms. That day according to the lesson schedule, in that hour we had Albanian language, when Professor Nazmi R. entered the class, we were almost all standing, commenting on the course of the demonstration. The above-mentioned professor was very nervous; he threw the diary on the table with a great force and said: “Everyone sit in your seats and take out a clean sheet, to make a draft.”
Unfortunately, even today I do not remember the topic of the draft, but I know that it had a philosophical content and related to demonstrations. I and most of the students didn’t write anything, I know that I handed in the blank paper. Professor Nazmi, when he didn’t bring us that paper…! My greatest pleasure was when I went home and heard him commenting on the demonstrations, with great sympathy. Hearing how they spoke with such sympathy, I took courage and told them about it.
My aunt, Danushi, from whom I was very afraid, as I have emphasized above, (how I got out of the column, not my boss and my father), they gave me full support and fully agreed with my ideas, for the continuation of that path. After their support, I really regretted that I did not go to participate in the demonstrations that were organized that day in Pristina, about which I was also informed by my brother, Fatmiri, who at that time was a student.
The next day, as soon as I went out on the street, I met Rada Trajković, who addressed me with these words, in Serbian: “Where is Enver Hoxha, bre J…. Tebe i Envera”?! I answered you as you begged. “I have Enver well and good, but where are you Rankovic”?! I said some dirty words to her, her and me to her, then I followed her to teach her to beat her, scolded her and scolded her several times, then she ran away.
The next day when I went to school, I was immediately called to the meeting of the school’s Youth Committee, since I was a member of this forum. Ramadan Paqarada was Chairman, Nazife Blaku, Rada Markovic and Rada Trajkovic was members. In addition to the members of the Youth Committee, there were present at this meeting, the director of the Gymnasium, Selman Qerimi, and Rrahim Gashi, head of Youth in Podujevë, who has openly defended us, while many other politicians attacked us.
In that meeting, it was discussed about the participants, the members of the school committee, which had participated in the demonstration. There was discussion about the exclusion of the participants in the demonstrations, not only from the Youth Committee, but also from the school. I defended myself, after I had met with Rada Marković, at the moment when I was away from the column, as I mentioned above. The one mentioned persistently, mentioned about me, that I did not participate in the demonstration, therefore I also did not accept that I was in the demonstration. However, Rada Trajkovic had guided us through our time, the roads we had moved on. She said: “Ajsha has been in the demonstration and there are cheers; long live Enver Hoxha, I have seen and heard it with my own two ears”, while R. Markovic, with persistence, said that; “I have not seen Aysha, who was not in the convoy, even when I asked her, I noticed that she does not even know what is being done”!
As these controversies developed, between the three of us, at those moments, N. B. intervened and said: “Ajshe, how could you tell me that you did not participate in the demonstration, where you were side by side with me. It seems to me that I see him even today, talking and holding his arm with his other hand.” At that moment, I remember, both the President of the Youth, Rrahim Gashi and the Director, even very nervous, addressed us with these words: “When you do this to each other, then what do you say about others”, and in moment the meeting is interrupted.
Other members of the school’s Youth Committee also participated in this meeting, but I did not tell the others that this controversy has developed between us mentioned above! The next day we have another meeting, and the controversy has started again, between me and Rada Trajkovic. I presented the case, what had happened the day before, between me and her. After that, it was decided that; Rada Trajkoniqi and I were expelled from this Committee. Rada Trajkoviqi, after this decision, has complained widely in the Federation of Yugoslavia.
Due to Rada Trajkovic’s complaint, director Selman Qerimi has left the position of school director. I also remember one detail, director Selman Qerimi, you saw me they said; to write a written statement, how it came to the speech, between Rade and me. I had written three or four lines, but the director was not satisfied with this statement, and I told him that; I can’t write all those dirty and insulting words that Rada told me. The director called Zejnullah Rrahman to help me and together we wrote the statement. I remember that, together with Zena, we also added things that were not true, but with the intention of protecting the director. This was also Zena’s idea.
But this does not carry much weight, as the director was removed from both the school and Podujeva. I also remember this that the lesson was held in the afternoon, and many times the electricity stopped, and so we were allowed to go home. There was hardly a night when the Terri was not used and the Rada was not beaten. But the “culprit” was never known. Once again, I mentioned that those days were the happiest and most vigorous days of my youth. From the exit, from the school yard, along all the streets of the city, we sang and recited, as if with one voice, patriotic songs. The whole city was buzzing with our songs. The song that was sung the most were these verses adapted from another song, which I don’t remember who, the author was or whether it was the whole class:
“November 27 holiday.
It will go down in history.
That in Ksova and Metohi
They went on foot
Old and young
Old and young are gone
Looking for a REPUBLIC”
We also sang the songs:
“Murlani blows with a storm, the sky thunders
Mother Skanderbeg’s red and black flag was fighting
Hey brave Skanderbeg…………..
When was the dedication in Kosovo?
Towns and villages are also within walking distance of mountain ranges
Plavë and Gusi are on foot
Prizren, Prishtina, Ferizaj,
Llapi with Gkakova.
And the hills and mountains”
I also emphasize that, both in the faculty and during all the years of work, I have always been guided by UDB. For many years I worked at KEK, on one occasion I was assigned to go with the KEK Youth Forum in Belgrade, for the Tito Relay. The designated group, which had to go to Belgrade, in the mentioned manifestation, had to prepare in Deçan for a week (to practice), to participate in this manifestation. After returning from Deçan, I was not allowed to go to Belgrade, because when the verification was done of the candidates who had to travel to the mentioned manifestation, there was enough information (the verification was done) that I was the organizer of high school students, for participating in the 1968 demonstrations.
The biggest escort has been over the years, when several groups of dancers and sportsmen came from Albania, where according to my official duty, I was assigned to wait for them, just as the brothers are expected. During the 1981 demonstrations, I was constantly followed by an individual named Sabit. During the differentiation, when the differentiation was done, one of the first, I was differentiated. I have been excluded from work, since 1991, from the very beginning, when Albanian workers were excluded from work. Memorie.al