The speech held by the President of the Republic of Kosovo, Dr. Fatmir Sejdiu, on the 10th anniversary of the murder of Bajram Kelmendi and his two sons, Kastriot and Kushtrim Kelmendi

We have gathered here today to commemorate together the distinguished legal practice and engagement for human and national freedom of Bajram Kelmendi, who, on 25 March 1999, together with his two sons, Kastriot and Kushtrim, joint the great pantheon of tribunes of Kosovo’s freedom and independence.

Pristina, 25 March 2009

Honourable Mrs. Nekibe Kelmendi, Minister of Justice with the Government of the Republic of Kosovo,
Other honourable members of Kelmendi family,
Honourable Prime Minister Thaçi,
Honourable Members of the Parliament of the Republic of Kosovo,
Honourable ministers and mayors,
Honourable representatives of institutions of science and culture,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have gathered here today to commemorate together the distinguished legal practice and engagement for human and national freedom of Bajram Kelmendi, who, on 25 March 1999, together with his two sons, Kastriot and Kushtrim, joint the great pantheon of tribunes of Kosovo’s freedom and independence.

Ten years ago this day, on a ghastly day for Kelmendi family and all of us who knew and had the privilege to work with Bajram Kelmendi, the Serbian state security forces, upon the order of Slobodan Milošević, abducted our friend Bajram Kelmendi and his two sons in their house and, a few moments later, executed them in the most barbarous way.

This act unveiled, for the umpteenth time, the real face of Milosevic’s oppressive regime. By liquidating the lawyer Bajram Kelmendi, the official Belgrade strived to accomplish two objectives at the same time: first, to spread out the feeling of horror among the citizens of Kosovo – because Bajram was one of the most powerful and patriotic figures and intellectuals of our country – and, second, to conceal the truth about the crimes committed by Serbs upon the defenceless Albanian population – because Bajram Kelmendi had prepared multiple criminal charges containing indisputable evidence of these atrocities.

A relentless activist of human rights, Bajram Kelmendi stood out, especially after 1981, in protecting the Albanian youth and intellectuals who were facing charges raised against them by the former Yugoslav and the latter Serbian regime, only because they were Albanians and pursued the freedom of their people. He was one of those who initiated the establishment of the Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms, an institution that – together with the political spectrum of the time and the great Kosovo movement for freedom, democracy and independence – strived ceaselessly to sensitise the international opinion to the systematic oppression and unrestrained violence that was being exerted by Serbs in Kosovo.

It was the intellectual and civic courage, the strong professional and humanitarian principles and, above all, the boundless love for his people and his country that encouraged Bajram Kelmendi to challenge the main person behind crimes that were being committed by Serbia in Kosovo – its President Slobodan Milošević, against whom he filed charges of crimes against humanity in Kosovo.

Indictments against Milošević were filed with a court in Pristina and another one in Belgrade at the times when Milošević reached the summit of his political and policing powers. This courageous act clearly outraged the Serb regime, which, led under the laws of mafia, was not ready to meet such a challenge. Milošević himself gave the order of revenge and his servants followed it through in the cruellest manner, as a said before, in a typical mafia way. 

On the same day, the same tragedy happened to his two sons, Kastriot and Kushtrim, who were brought up and matured in the spirit of their parents. They stood by their father until the final moments of their lives.

Honourable participants in the commemoration academy,
Ladies and gentlemen,

The lawyer Bajram Kelmendi – this resolute soldier of peace, freedom and humanity – never tried to hide and protect his life, though he was well aware that his work was being scrutinised by Serbian services. He never ceased to work, not even after he filed with The Hague Tribunal, together with his colleagues, three criminal charges of crimes against humanity and genocide in Kosovo against Milošević and his clique, submitting some of them in person.
There is no doubt that the gap that the absence of Bajram Kelmendi has left behind in the legal practice in Kosovo is unbridgeable, because he had an enormous vocation and intellectual and professional potential to provide a further contribution beneficial to Kosovo.

Personalities like Bajram can not be built within a day. Losing him constituted a heavy blow, not only to his close family, but to his colleagues and entire Kosovo.

The historic President of Kosovo, Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, had conferred the golden “Medal of Independence” upon him for his extraordinary engagement in the defence of human rights and freedom and for his enormous contribution to the freedom and independence of Kosovo.

Dear participants,

The unreserved determination of Mrs. Nekibe Kelmendi and other members of Kelmendi family to support the overall developments in the country and to follow the lead of Bajram Kelmendi represents a rare example that goes beyond our society.

Therefore, it is a special honour for me to invite the Kelmendi family to receive the Acknowledgment and the Medal conferred upon Bajram, Kastriot and Kushtrim Kelmendi.