From Kole Bib Mirakaj
-THE ASSEMBLY OF MEN IN IBALLE-
Memorie.al / Precious time was wasted. That time was lost that probably, there was a strong possibility, that it would have changed the course of the history of our nation… I decided to hold the meeting in Iballe! I set the date for October 12, 1944, because it could not be reached earlier, due to the remoteness of the places and the lack of traffic. You knew that it was too late, but there was no other way, except: Oh, give up on me completely, or try my uncertain fate. I extended the call all over the Northern Highlands. I met with Halil Alina and other leaders of Dibra in Shkodër, where they also gave me their own representation, spoke to them, and gave me the adhesion for union and action, if they could not come in person (Dibra was occupied by the communists for some time). They had several hundred people with them, and they were willing to raise the occupied Dibra as well, as soon as the march in that direction started.
The meeting was held in a meadow near my house in Iballe, on the morning of the appointed day. A total of fourteen bajraks were represented, out of four hundred men and letter representatives, who had entrusted me and others. The captain of Mirdita, Gjon Markagjoni, got stuck in the war with the communist brigades that had attacked and destroyed Mirdita, he sent me a letter covering himself, Krentë and Mirdita, as well as Muharrem Bajraktari’s mother, you authorized me to take on the obligations of the case, in their name, for every decision that would be taken for the war against communism.
I opened the meeting with a deeply touching speech, tue vue apparently the danger, and ended with these words: “Men of the Mountains! You know without me repeating it to you today, that life has value, until it is lived with honor and with the sacred customs of our Ancestors. Whoever does not know, they give this meaning to life, cannot be called a man, and do not deserve to live. We have everything in danger: Faith and Husband, Honor and Fé, family and God, and the very life of the nation’s cream, together with the very life of the nation itself! Two forces are at play. Hers is the strength of the Motherland and God, the other is the strength against the Motherland, against God.
The last force of Hell…!
I have nothing more to say, and I am finishing, you addressed the prayer to the Almighty God, to choose the Sons of these Kreshnike Mountains, soldiers of themselves and of the Motherland. Decide with this faith, and God has helped us”! Several chiefs also spoke, very simple words, full of meaning and the mountain man, all were in favor. Decisions were made in writing, and signed with fingers, stamp and pen.
Decisions of the meeting
“The head of the Bajraktars of the Northern Highlands, who in person and with a letter of representation, are today on the twelfth of October one thousand one hundred and forty-four, to gather in Iballe, under the chairmanship of Mr. Kolë Bib Mirakës, you represented forty-four Bajraks, from the provinces of Mirdita, Malësi e Lezha, Dukagjin, Malësi e Madhe, Pukë, Malësi e Gjakova (Gashë, Krasniqe, Bytyç), Has, Lumë and Dibër, are ready to answer for the dedication of the Motherland, in the fight against communism, and for the protection of the territorial integrity of the Motherland, together with the Free Lands, I also foresee,
- Ithis meeting takes the name “THE ASSEMBLY OF THE MEN OF THE MOUNTAINS”!
- All Men of the Mountains, from 18 to 55 years old, masters of the leg, the hand and the rifle, are mobilized and will go to war, whenever they are called, against communism, and for the defense of the borders of the Motherland.
- Mr. Kolë Bib Mirakaj, gave me the dedication, designated the places where the fighters will gather and gave me the directions. The “Mountain Men’s Assembly” movement will have a General Command, whose decisions and orders will be obeyed by all.
- Mobilization remains compulsory, and the people remained under arms, even after the cleansing operations against the Bolshevik threat, to preserve the ethnic borders of the Motherland, until some new factor, or the Peace Conference, provided the assurance of the inviolability of the Motherland from enemies.
- Within ten days from today, all the men of the Highlands who are represented in this “ASSEMBLE”, will be ready to join the army, as soon as the pledge is given.
- Whoever deserts or betrays is punished with death, and his family is forever removed from the circle of coexistence of these mountains. Whoever misses the dedication, is banished (his relations were cut off), forever from the community of the Mountains, his house is burned and his wealth is taken, which goes to the benefit of the movement.
- A close Council, made up of representatives of different provinces, under the chairmanship of Mr. Kolë Bib Mirakaj, as early as today, will determine the mobilization plan, the General Command and other necessary details.
MEETING OF THE NARROW COUNCIL:
Appointed the delegates of each province. This meeting was held at dinner at my house. As before, in the general meeting, it was also unanimously requested that I take the General Command of the operation. It took me a lot of effort and arguments to avoid this request.
I asked Gani Kryeziu to be charged, if he will respond to the appeal that we will send to him, and if not, it would be charged to Gjon Markagjon, and I put him next to an election headquarters. Gani Kryeziu, was in Bytyç with about two hundred people. I believe that he was not a communist, although, until an extremely violent event for him, he had collaborated with the Reds. The event in question had this:
“On Eid in the summer of 1944, Ganiu had let most of his people go to their homes. The Communists had their headquarters in Krume i Has, and it seems that they were informed in time, I saw it long ago. A group of about thirty people, these (red ones), had allegedly gone to congratulate “comrade” Gani Beg.
When they reached the center of Kryeziu, they disarmed all those who happened to be together with Gani, and took captive Sahit Kryeziu, Lazër Fundo and the English officer who was on a mission near Gani. Their goal was to execute Lazër Fundon, they were condemned by the communist party. They went to Krume, Fundon and were shot. Sahit and the English officer were released”!
I addressed a letter to Gani Kryeziu in which I appealed to the Parliament to join our forces, offering him the General Command, with a competent Staff, and a Council consisting of Gjon Markagjoni, Muharrem Bajraktari, Kole Mirakaj and one person are elected from Krenët e Dibra. The letter was delivered to Man Arif Lama, from Mejdani i Gashi, who undertook to deliver it to Gani Bey within two days.
THE COUNCIL DECIDED:
1) Until Gani Kryeziu, has not given the affirmative answer, or we have not managed to join the powers of the Captain of Mirdita, the General Command and the giving of dedication, are entrusted to Mr. Kole Mirakaj.
2) Actions will begin in two directions at once: The eleven Bajraks of Dukagjin and Gashë e Krasniqe will march from Has towards the River, with the objective of Peshkopina. The march will be carried out in phases ordered by the General Command. The command of these forces is temporarily entrusted to Captain Tahir Hoxha from Gashi, and after they have all joined the Luma forces, Colonel Muharrem Bajraktari takes the command definitively.
The seven Bajraks of Puka and Fushat will enter Mirdita, and all together with the powers of Mirdita, the Highlands of Lezha and Thkella, will march to Burrel and Krujë at the same time. The command of these forces is entrusted to Mr. Gjon Markagjoni with deputy Mr. Kole Bib Mirakaj.
Together with the powers of Mati, and if the need arises, a part of these powers will be sent from Qafë-Murra to help Muharrem Bajraktar, for the conquest of Peshkopia and the cleansing of the entire Dibra. The rest will march towards Saint George. The forces gathered in Peshkopi: One column marches towards Qafë-Thanë, and another towards Elbasan.
This meeting will be done in coordination with the forces gathered in Saint George. Kolë Bib Mirakaj is charged with coordinating the action of various forces (until the command was handed over to Gani Kryeziu and Gjon Markagjon) and, mainly, with the powers of the League of Prizren.
In Tirana, there is to be reorganization on a national basis.
Col. Bib Mirakaj, already now, and then the Commander-in-Chief, has the right and authority to name the officers, up to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Non-commissioned officers are appointed by department commanders. In the first dedication, they are forced to go to the army with their own weapons and with bread for three days, one for a house where there are two men, two for a house where there are three and four men, three for a house where there are five tall men, within the age set as mandatory.
In the event of a second consecration, all men aged 18-55 will appear, without any absence. In order not to leave a path for the enemy to use the “Muslim and Christian” propaganda, the forces of Dukagjin, from the Kolchi Pass, will be cut off from the Principalities of Krasniqe and Gashi. From the forces mobilized in Malësi Madhe and Rranxa, only a symbolic number of 200-250 people will be required, and the others will stay in place to guard the border with Montenegro (the companies continue).
The first core of these forces (Pukë, Dukagjin and Malësi and Gjakovë), was counted around six thousand people, and by the time they reached Tirana, they would destroy the number of thirty thousand men.
You thought that, since the “Slavic army” had not yet started against Kosovo, the Second League of Prizren had enough forces, so they sent a part to join the forces of the Mountains in Kukës. We had heard that about a thousand ballistas, under the command of Xelal Stravecka and Musa Kranja, had arrived in Prizren, from Greece, and this is very true.
I prepared a letter in three copies, with the decisions of the ASSEMBLY, and sent it to them: A Mr. Xhafer Deva, Chairman of the II League of Prizren, one Musa Kranja and Xelal Stravecka, to ask them to join their forces with ours and the date when they could reach Kukës, so that you would know and set the day dedication, regarding their responsibility. I also sent a copy to Gjon Markagjon.
Of course, the communists could not get away with such a meeting, and the danger it entailed for them. With all the forces they had in Dibër, Mat and Lure, they blew up Mirdita, they let Sh’Pal besiege, where a force with Mirditas and Dibrana, under the command of Ndue Gjomarkaj and Halil Ali, was standing, and taught about Iballe. On the night of October 16-17, the news reached me and I gave the blessing to Puka, Dukagjini, Gashi and Krasniqe, although the Krens who had participated in the Assembly, had not yet reached their homes.
Dukagjini with Nikaj Mertur (one thousand five hundred people), reached Qafë-Kolçit, within two days. The pariah of Gashi and Krasniqe did not come out and go to their place, as he had decided, and so Nikaj-Merturi of Dukagjin had to be ambushed there in defense. Me with five hundred people, but they quickly increased and became one thousand five hundred, I went to fight with them. The match with the communist brigades began in the morning of October 18, 1944, in the mountains of the White River, near Fushë Arres. We broke them and chased them from there, all the way to Mushte and Gojan.
We lacked the ammunition to take advantage of the success. Some of the thousand people didn’t even have weapons. In support of the promises of the German Command for some weapons and enough ammunition, I set the general attack for the 25th of October in Gedchime.
I was promised 200 guns, fifty boxes of ammunition and a quantity of light machine guns and mortars, to be delivered by October 24. From all these, I got two boxes of rifle ammunition, one box of hand grenades and two 45 grenade launchers, with two boxes of ammunition.
You had no means of attack, so I had to cancel the decision for some future day, when the necessary material would reach me. The initiative remains with the enemy. My positions stretched from Livadhi i Hamzi (Tërbun), Gojan, Kimës and Qafë-Bari (near Munella). The friend attacked on the 25th, a little before lunch. My ammunition ran out, I pulled out the positions from Gojani, Kimza e Qafë-Bari, to Fushë-Arresit, Bardhet e Qafë-Mali.
After two days from Livadhi i Hamzi, to Rrapë, and around Puka. Between these positions, we stayed until 20 Nandor, you were supplied with two or three boxes of ammunition, every day. Dukagjini (we must add the Gjakova Highlands, which was without rifles), I stay in Qafë Kolçit, until the end of Nandor, without giving up an inch of land to the Bolshevik brigades, formed by Montenegrin Kosovars, from Gashi and Krasniqe.
A part of the Puka forces, which we had on our own and with high morale, and finally the Germans, gave us thirty ammunition boxes, and two small cannons, with 85 shells. On the other hand, you had organized a very secret plan of action, in order to surprise the communist brigades, led by the communist Kadri Çoba i Qarret, with some of his friends, had come out behind our backs, to teach Iballen.
Ballistas had started to arrive one by one from Prizren, whom I pampered and fed, but I couldn’t convince them to stay with us, without reaching Shkodër, to receive instructions and orders from their leaders. They heard the word of Mit’hat Frashëri, who was in Shkodër.
There was an imperative need, for the help of about a thousand people, from the forces gathered in Shkodër, who at that time had no action, except with a bread pant, and with the salaries, I’m talking about the Ballistic forces. This help was necessary, not only as a strength, but also to raise the morale of the province, which already saw that it was left alone in this match. I decided to leave for Shkodër on our own, leaving the command to my brother, Pashuku, for the time being.
The Commander-in-Chief, the late Mark Gjomarkagjoni, did not fail to understand the importance of my plan, and to try to help me, but to no avail. The ballisticians, we framed under the Shkodra Command, from which they were fed and paid, after they promised to follow the plan, they avoided. I gave them a short speech, in the big corridor of the prefecture, they were quite enthusiastic, but after three hours, they got in touch with Mit’hat Frashëri and the other leaders, and they informed me that they could not come with me.
Even Hasan Isufi with a battalion, told me that he would come with me, the last one was enough for me, but even that black luck was lied to by Rasim Gjyrezi, with some Parsis from Shkodra, who had remembered that they arranged their work with the communists, and thus, even Hasan, did not obey, even though he gave me his word. Then, I was forced to warn Pashuku, to distribute the powers in small groups, to avoid as much as possible, a match with the communists, to wait for the conclusion of the talks with the representatives of Montenegro.
I didn’t get any answer from Xhafer Deva!
Pashuku, when he came from Prizren, told me that Xhaferi, with ten thousand to twelve thousand Kosovars, would withdraw and come to Pukë, and then either go to Shkodër or retreat with the German army, or disperse among the mountains, in the resistance groups.
That’s what Xhafer Deva told him, you ordered him to notify me, so that I could keep the Kukës – Pukë road safe. A few days after reaching Pashuku, I found out that Xhafer Deva was leaving for Vienna by plane, not to return to stay, while the Kosovars continued to fight. Memorie.al