By Idriz ZEQIRAJ
Memorie.al / Demë Ali Pozhari was born in 1905, in the village of Pozhar in Deçan. He did his initial education in Kosovo, while he continued the Jesuit high school in Shkodër. The history of the Pozhari family dates back three centuries. The great-grandfather, Ali Rexha, with his brother Beka, was killed at the Castle of Nis, in 1876. The grandfather, Mehmet Ali Pozhari, was killed in the siege of the palaces of Avdullah Pasha Dreni, on September 6, 1878, in Gjakova, where Mehmet Ali Pasha Maxharri was killed. , of German descent from Magdeburg, Germany. The father, Ali Mehmeti, a lover of education, opened the first Albanian school in Pozhar 1915-18 in his house, with teacher Ibrahim Fehmiu, the father of the well-known artist, Bekim Fehmiu.
Deme Ali Pozhari stood out from his generation, since his early youth. He was part of the Second League of Prizren. He maintained permanent contacts with Professor Ymer Berisha, Gjon Sereq, Avdi Smajli, from Martinaj, Guci, Sadri Çaka, Mehmet Agë Rashkoci, Ukë Sadiku and other patriots.
At the forefront of the nationalists from Dukagjini, Rugova, Podguri, Drenica and up to Mitrovica were Demë Ali Pozhari and Kurt Abazi, Sak Fazlia and Sali Rama, Mulla Zeke Bërdynaj of Radavci, Adem Bajraktari of Vranovci, Ramë Alia and Bajram Gashi of Uça of Istog, Miftar and Cen Bajraktari of Llausha, Shaban Polluzha and Mehmet Gradica of Drenica.
On November 4, 1941, Chetnik forces attacked Pazar e Ri (Novi Pazar). 3,200 fighters from Kosovo were mobilized for the protection of the New Market and Sanxhak as a whole, which was once part of the Kosovo Province, with the leadership commitment of Haqif Bluta, Xhafer Deva, Pajazit Boletini and others. In the war of New Pazar, 144 fighters from Kosovo were killed; among them was Bardhosh Dina Gërvalla, the grandfather of Jusuf and Bardhosh Gërvalla.
Nationalists, nationals held 11 Assemblies. The first in Gjakovë, in 1942 and, until the last in Miredita, in 1945. Plava, Gucia, Rugova, Rozhaja, Tutini, Pazari i Ri, in danger of invasion by the Serbian-Montenegro Chetnik forces. During the war, he led the detachments of the National Front, together with Ramë Binaku from Dashinoc. Enver Hoxha returned to Kosovo the communist boys educated in Albania, to organize, perhaps, the liberation war. The superiority of the communist forces was increasing, in relation to the nationalist forces.
Demë Ali Pozhari in 1941, operated in Plavë e Guci. He was put at the forefront of the resistance, for the defense of the Dukagjin Plain, against the Serbo-Montenegro Chetnik forces, who, wearing the Yugoslav Partisan uniform, were already part of the Partisan Brigade. In alliance with these anti-Albanian formations, there was also the Communist Party of Albania.
From 1942 to 1944, he was the mayor of the Municipality of Rozhaja. However, this did not prevent him from leading the nationalist detachments in defense of Dukagjin, Plava and Gucia, as well as in the Albanian Sanxhak, which was part of the Kosovo Province. In July 1943, the nationalist volunteers of Demë Ali Pozhar and Mehmet Agë Rashkoci made a successful operation, killing 60 soldiers in the War of the Century. In October 1944, Demë Ali Pozhari with Ali Bajraktar became an obstacle to the Yugoslav-Albanian partisan forces, defending Junik.
From 1944 to 1948, the military leaders of the Nationalist Movement went underground. The number of fighters under arms was significantly reduced. There were about 40 people, who were represented by: Demë Ali Pozhari, Aziz Zhilivoda, (Colonel Ahmet Krasniqi’s uncle), Ndue Përleshi, Hasan Remniku, Metë Hasani, and others. Demë Ali Pozhari’s illegal life was extremely difficult, considering the organization of communist interception and persecution. The mansion of Çëlë Shabani of Beci was a basic shelter. The movement between houses has been highly dangerous. Deme Ali Pozhar’s intuition, smell, and intelligence have been proverbial.
The coup against Demë Ali Pozhar’s family began before the Albanian League of Prizren in 1878; continued in the 30s of the last century; in the 40s and 50s, until the last war in Kosovo. The saga of the Pozhari Family would continue with the bloodshed of the Pozhari generations. Dema’s brothers: Meta and Rexha, were killed in succession. The eldest son, Miftari, was executed in 1946, by the OZNA youth, when he returned from Hasi to Pozhar. The two youngest sons: Brahimi and Afrimi, were poisoned by the invader in 1950.
The Pozhari family was imprisoned, for three years in a row, from 1946 to 1948, in the prison of Gjakova, this time of Demë Ali Pozhari’s illegality. Dema’s only daughter, Zylyhaja, although sick, continued to suffer in prison, without being legally convicted. Demë Ali Pozhar’s tower was burned four times: the Turks, King’s Serbia, Tito’s communist Yugoslavia and Milosevic’s Serbia. And, again the Tower has risen from her ashes. Among the towers of Dukagjin, the Junik-Oda Tower, the Pozharaj Tower, and the Osdautaj Tower stood out.
Dema’s daughter, who survived, was Zylyhaja, born of Nifa, the daughter of Haxhi Bajraktar of Vranovci. Zylyhaja married Avdyl Shala, in the family of Rrustem Lluka, who moved to Lugun e Barani. Zylyhaja symbolizes, apart from the mother, the tragic figure of the family woman. Days of joy, weddings, family or religious holidays, brought tears to his eyes, because he was unable to marry either his brother or sister.
But, he experienced the murder of three brothers in a row, within four years. Fortunately, Demë Ali Pozhar’s only daughter, Zylyhaja, had a happy marriage. She became the bride of Avdyl Shala, grandson of Rrustem Lluka, a guest house and house in Dukagjin. He gave birth, raised, educated and educated 8 (eight) children. Among them is Shpend Shala, part of the fight for the freedom of Kosovo.
In 1948, Demë Ali Pozhari, with some fellow fighters, managed to escape to Greece. The Greeks put them in an isolation camp and wanted to use them for their own interests. But, Demë Ali Pozhari was the first of Dukagjin’s nationalists, he was the leader of the armed forces, which spread over the areas from Dukagjini, Plavë and Gucia, Rugova and Rozhaja, Tutini and Pazari i Ri, and he refused to be put in the service of nobody, except his Motherland, Kosovo. After three years of staying in Greece, Demë Ali Pozhari, with his friends, managed to settle in Turkey.
In Istanbul, he married Sabahate Shala, whose family moved from Peja to Istanbul, with whom they had a son, Ibrahim, in 1954. Sabahate got sick and died. And, Dema would marry the Turkish Vasfije, a dignified and proud beauty, sister of two Turkish generals. Demë Ali Pozhari was entrusted with the task of the chief responsible for immigration in Istanbul. He helped and sheltered hundreds of activists and national fighters, persecuted and condemned, in absentia, by the communist regimes, such as from Kosovo, Albania, other Albanian territories, outside London Albania, as well as Chameria, occupied by the enemy Greece, against the Albanians.
The meeting with Deme Ali Pozhari
Hotel “Dajti”, Tirana, November 1969, I met Demë Ali Pozhar. Although old, seven tall, with features of pride and manly beauty, he radiated clarity of mind and physical energy. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the liberation of Albania, compatriots from Mergata were invited, mostly elderly, most of them economic emigrants, who left before the Second World War, but also some political ones, from the Albanian territories outside London Albania. Among them was Demë Ali Pozhari, who is considered the main nationalist of the Dukagjin Plain, leader of the resistance, in defense of the land territory, in the Dukagjin Plain and Sanxhak, including Plavë e Guci.
I first heard the name of the war leader, Demë Ali Pozhari, from my father, Sadri Smajli Zeqiraj. He was a police officer, during the years of United Albania, in Skënderaj. And, from there, a companion of the Drenica nationalist leader, Mehmet Gradica. In 1942, at the first National Assembly, held in Gjakova, with the participation of nationalist and communist leaders, my father Sadri Zeqiraj accompanied the leaders of Drenica.
They made an impression that two brothers, Demush and Haki Taha, participate in the Assembly, the first with the nationalist side, the second with the communist side. Demush Taha – Gjakova, is the father of the well-known poet and writer Agim Gjakova. My father had met Demë Ali Pozhar, who, two years later, would also become his fighter.
Bije (Sabrije) Vokshi, part of the war, alongside the communists, was invited to the Albanian party. The Vokshi family had lived in Albania at the time of the Kingdom. Bija’s nephews, Asim and Xhafar Vokshi, were educated there. In their house, the Albanian Communist Youth was founded. The future couple Nexhmije and Enver Hoxha also met there. During the war, the Albanian Communist Party started the girls and boys of Kosovo, educated in Albania, with a mission to organize the communist movement in Kosovo. Asim was killed in the Spanish Civil War (“for Stalin’s mustache”), while Bija and Xhafer returned to Kosovo.
For the liberation celebration, Bije Vokshi arrived in Tirana earlier and stayed at the “Dajti” Hotel. We were curious about the first meeting, which they would have, after a quarter of a century, with Deme Ali Pozhar, as a political opponent with a gun. Here, the first conversation, between former political opponents: – Bije Vokshi: “Demme Ali Pozhari, if I had learned from you 25 years ago, I would have chosen the tallest oak, depending on it.” The reaction of Demë Ali Pozhari was immediate: – “Daughter Vokshi, even I, if I had met at that time, would have chosen two tall oaks, as close as your feet could reach, to hang them on them, upside down”! And, with that, the reconciliation of the two political opponents of the war, which, once, represented two currents, hostile to each other, was made.
An early enmity between the Vokshi and Pozhari families begins when Dema’s brother, Metë Ali Pozhari, is killed by a Vokshi, Thaç tribe. And, the murder of Beqir Vokshi, on January 22, 1923, is billed to the Pozhari Family, as revenge. But the truth is that the execution of Beqir Vokshi was done on the order of Hasan Prishtina, given to Azem Galica’s Ceta. And, the intrigue continues, when Dema’s other brother, Rexhë Ali Pozhari, is killed, he is billed to the Vokshi Family, but, in fact, he was killed by the gendarme Sanjakli Sheh Boshnjaku. The authorship of the murder of Rexha Ali was proven with the “çystek-watch” found in the case of the murder of Sheh Boshnjak.
We will write another time about the sacrificial marriage of Bije Vokshi, her dedication to raise and educate her orphaned grandchildren, she experienced a special family life drama, with prisons, persecutions, exiles from both communist states, Yugoslav and Albanian. Although elderly, Bije Vokshi and Demë Ali Pozhari, had a prolonged medical treatment, which enabled our much-desired meeting and conversation. To Baca Demë, I told about myself that and the meeting in the National Assembly of Gjakova, in 1942, in the capacity of the companion of the delegated leaders of Drenica.
He began to tell about the war, about the battles won, but also about the lost war of the nationalist forces, because they happened in the middle of the fire of the Yugoslav and Albanian communists, “who, equally, treated us as enemies and fought us, together , no mercy!” It is interesting to match the historical events in the oral, personal narratives of Demë Ali Pozhari, with the treatment of the events of that time by the author of the book, Shefqet Dibrani “Records about the life of Demë Ali Pozhari”.
Much has been said about the reconciliation of Dukagjin’s first nationalist, Demë Ali Pozhari, with the wild Albanian communist Enver Hoxha. Even more so, when it was, precisely, Demë Ali Pozhari, the one who greeted 60 compatriots in the meeting with the dictator Hoxha, photographed clinking his glasses. Yugoslavia would react that; “Enver Hoxha agreed with the nationalist, the enemy of the Yugoslav and Albanian communists, during the war”.
Demë Ali Pozhari explains this reconciliation with the good will and the need to reconcile and unite the Albanians, before the challenges of the time and, in particular, in the circumstances of the occupation, which Kosovo is in. And he expressed this universally.
But the dictator Hoxha did not like it, because, a year later, in the first visit to Tropoja, after more than 60 years of life, he would declare that; “The Yugoslav and Albanian peoples have shed their blood, together, on the same battlefields”. So the flirtation had begun, the Albanian-Yugoslav friendship was being renewed. The message was clear: Kosovo had to continue its status quo, not to be mentioned, in order to become an “apple of trouble”.
Demë Ali Pozhari, had left his daughter Zylyhanë, in Kosovo, and his old age son, Ibrahim, born in Istanbul. Old age and being diagnosed with a serious illness made him think seriously about his only son. And, he made the difficult decision to send him for education in Albania, in order to save him from assimilation. This could also be an impetus for reconciliation with Enver Hoxha of official Tirana. For this initiative, Professor Bujar Hoxha, minister plenipotentiary at the Albanian Consulate in Istanbul, son of Hoxha Kadri Prishtina, chairman of the Committee for the Defense of Kosovo, based in Shkodër, mediated.
Baca Demë and especially his wife, aunt Vasfije, as I called her, wrote me letters, with the order to take care of their much-loved Ibrahim. I kept in touch, first, with the director of the “Ismail Qemali” Gymnasium and, later, with the director of the Pedagogical School “17 Nëntori”, which continued the tradition of the “Queen Mother” Normal School, from the time of the Albanian Kingdom, only for women. The transfer of Ibrahim to this school, the only male, was for the effect of better learning the Albanian language.
In a letter, Baca Demë ordered me: “Tell my daughter Zylyha in Gjakovë not to send a package of clothes to Ibrahim, because she is rude and doesn’t learn.” I requested the order. But, dada Zyliha answers: Ah, brother, dad Demë must understand me, that I have only one brother! Ibrahimi was tall and handsome, like his father. “Make me like you father!”
In one of the letters, the Aunt Vasfije Pozhari instructed me that Ibrahimi, after graduation, should continue his studies at the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry Branch, because the Turkish Vasfije dreamed of a private dental clinic for her son Ibrahim Pozhari. And, I promised. But the promise remained my hostage, because I lost freedom and communication at the same time. Ibrahimi graduated from General Medicine and was employed at the Institute of Folk Medicine.
Bull Ali Pozhari, even though he lived another 6 years, after sending his son away, he died with a big pledge, to see his Ibrahim. The Albanian government neither gave him an entry visa nor allowed Ibrahim to return to Turkey, even though a commercial ship, with 12 rooms for passengers, sailed at least three times a month to Istanbul!
Surprisingly, even the families, with blood ties, where the son Ibrahim used to be comforted, were beaten and imprisoned. After 20 years, in 1993, accompanied by the Minister of Information of the Republic of Kosovo, Xhafer Shatri, I knocked on the door of the apartment of Ibrahim Pozhari, on the 9th floor of Tirana, now with his bride and two sons: Dema and Ermal .
Demë Ali Pozhari, has been awarded by the President of Albania, (Dr. Prof. Bamir Topi), with the high title – Honor of the Nation – and by the President of Kosovo, with the – Order of Freedom -, for patriotic and military activity, for the defense and the freedom of Kosovo. Memorie.al