(Impressions from Servet Mehmeti, former director of the Patriotic Political Association “Chameria”)
The rivers flow in eternity from faraway fountains, fruit of God. The rivers’ bottoms are their lands and nobody can take them out, as it is the territory of the Cham Albanians. It’s their land, given from God. It’s sufficient to read the poem “Cham ballad” of the dissident Cham writer Bilal Xhaferri and everything is clearly understood. He writes:
The rainbow, like a tearful greeting of goodbye,
Disappeared beyond the distances,
Over the flame crests,
in the rain…
Beyond the distances disappeared in flames Chameria
And all our streets lead to north.
Wails the Mediterranean wind over the ancient epyriot lands,
over the dear ancestral lands.
In the abandoned pastures are grazing the thunderclaps.
The unpicked olive-groves thunder like the waves along the hillocks.
And everywhere the Cham land,
covered by the clouds,
groans tearful and bloody,
We are shown the way by the bullets that whistle in darkness.
We are lightened the way by the flames that have swallowed up all earth.
Behind our backs the windstorm hits the ramshackle house doors.
And the streets reach and reach the north.
We, a deported population, walk along the rain…
But why did the Cham population suffer such barbaric actions, why was it massacred violently, why did this calamity strike these people of mother Chameria?! They loved Albania, their nation. But the violence and the barbarism of the bad and evil people, such as the Greek chauvinists, unstrapped them
from its trunk.
Besides Bilal’s poetic spirit and the injustice toward the Cham population, it was even the blind judgment of the people, who didn’t appreciate the freedom and the right. Bilal Xhaferri, like the Chams, has been victimized by the communist dictatorship. The dictatorial system persecuted him, even though he went away, went far away to save his dignity, the dignity that was the life itself for him.
Bilal Xhaferri went on developing his literary and publicistic activity in America. His creations had a big echo at Diaspora’s press. In particular echoed “Eagle’s wing” (Krahu i shqiponjës) magazine created and published by him. But even in America, the dark shadows of communism didn’t left Bilal in peace, opposing him by all means, and so he was prey to their violence. Regardless of this situation, Bilal went ahead with his activity at service of the country, with a more special zeal. Unwittingly, he had against him two countries: the maternal Albania, which was leaded then by a communist clique and the neighboring Greece that had ousted his brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers from their own lands. So, Bilal’s work was extinguished at the very peak of his attempts. It was extinguished a dignified successor of Hoxhë Tahsini, Abedin Pashë Dino, Muharrem Rushiti etc., men who have illuminated the history of Albania.
Even Bilal illuminates with his light the issue of the Cham pain. We hereby should thank the former Chairman of the Parliament of Albania, Mr. Pjetër Arbnori, the writer Shefki Hysa, director of the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” and editor of “Eagle’s wing” (Krahu i shqiponjës) magazine, the relatives and the well-wishers that enabled the return of Bilal Xhaferri’s bones in Albania.
A group of intellectuals, headed by the writer and editor Shefki Hysa, as a sign of consideration for Bilal Xhaferri’s works and creations, which shed some light on the reality of the Albanian pain, created the Publishing House “Bilal Xhaferri”, as a necessity to widely inform the public for the work of a big writer, a big patriot at service of the Cham issue. The Publishing House “Bilal Xhaferri” was
opened and quickly strengthened, and in 1993 was created even the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” and began being published “Eagle’s wing” (Krahu i shqiponjës) magazine, which was published before by Bilal himself in America. These institutions were a new support, a new wing of the Patriotic Political
Association “Chameria”. I have so evaluated these endeavors as director of “Chameria” Association during 2003-2006.
“Eagle’s wing” (Krahu i shqiponjës) magazine has given a special help to introduce and propound the Cham issue before people’s opinion. It is known for its social, cultural, historical values and especially for the patriotic opinion that predominates in its writings. During 2004 “Chameria” Association intensified the collaboration with “Eagle’s wing” magazine for treating and approving in parliament a resolution for the solution of the Cham problem. So the press, the televisions and the pan-Albanian opinion would be aware of this problem. Unfortunately the resolution wasn’t approved owing
to the Greek pressure. The most typical example was the former Prime Minister, Fatos Nano, who inhibited its approval.
In this difficult period, excepting the unusual activity of “Chameria” Association’s structures, was necessary even the contribution of the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” and that of “Eagle’s wing” (Krahu i shqiponjës) magazine, especially the contribution of its director, the writer Shefki Hysa,
coordinator of all the contacts, the meetings and the conversations with deputies, parliamentary groups and parliamentary commissions of the Parliament of Albania.
The collaboration and the cooperation between such structures of the Cham community have been and actually are an indispensable exigency and they ought to be appreciated, mostly when a national issue, like the Cham issue, needs a solution. I want to stress that it’s quite necessary the coordination of
actions between “Chameria” Association, the Institute of History for Chameria and the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri”, so to act as a powerful organism and with one purpose, inside and outside Albania, for the solution of the Cham issue. We should align ourselves in a front, for the sake of the Cham ideal.
Furthermore, it’s required a good organization and the strengthening of the organism’s structures from the bases to the center. They have to become the real chiefs of the Cham community.
Only in this way the Cham issue can find a solution, as an ideal of all the patriotic and honest Albanians, as a pan-national objective. I am stressing one more time that the solution of the Cham problem, the return of the Chams in Chameria, in their ancestral motherland, will come only as a result of the collaboration between these organizations that represent the Cham community.
So the Cham community can become a compelling factor in Albania and abroad and it can achieve its objective concerning the Albanian state’s politics and this one will so feel responsibility and constitutional obligation for the national issue, a necessity and an exigency for our national prestige and pride. The solution of the Cham issue is based on the politics that the Albanian state will pursue
regarding Greece and other international partners. It must keep its body straight in the treatment of this issue. Only in this way the Cham ideal can be finalized. Let’s work together and let’s hope for a safe future.
Former director of the Patriotic Political Association “Chameria”
Translated by Endri Hysa