Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Kosovo Tributes

The publisher of the leading Kosovo daily, Koha Ditore, pays tribute to two prominent Albanians murdered in the past few days.
By Veton Surroi

Shefki Popova, a former colleague of mine from Rilindja (an Albanian newspaper), and Rexhep Luci, one of the most famous architects in Pristina, are no longer with us.


I knew and respected both of them. Shefki was one of the best correspondents that Albanian journalism had outside Pristina. And Rexhep Luci is one of the few who could have solved Pristina's urban planning problems.


Why are the people I know dying? Why are they being killed?


I am quite sure that these people were killed because they had a different opinion to that of their killers. And this makes their murders political.


They are not the first ones. During this year, we have seen acts committed against this or that political party.


The current victims are part of a new dynamic, where people are targeted, regardless of whether they are involved in the pre-election race.


In Kosovo, we have entered a cycle of violence we never had even imagined: Violence against Albanians committed by "unknown Albanians".


From what I knew of them, Shefki and Rexhep were, in term of their politics, oriented more towards the Albanian nation than some political party. In their work, they tried laying the foundations of Kosovo's statehood.


The paper carried a commentary by Ylber Hysa on Luci's last conference, 'The Vision for Pristina 2000-2005'.


For three days in a row, Luci responded to questions and developed concepts from the latest unrealised urban plan for Pristina.


During the break, while talking of the urban chaos of postwar Pristina, of illegal construction that characterised this wild time, he told me slowly - "I am being threatened directly!"


"Who?" I asked him.


"They are threatening me, " he repeated, one day before he was killed. "According to someone, I am allegedly favored by the foreigners and I am to blame for the interruption of illegal constructions!"


He was not afraid, but with his open eyes and big moustache he tried to warn me of what is going on, and that it is possible someone might be killed because he tries to protect the city.


Sometime ago, in an interview for Koha Ditore, he said that all those attacking the city must realise city will take vengeance on them!


These were the words of the man who believed in a civilized conscience, who believed that the city is an identity, a heritage and a future, and therefore must be protected.


If there's one thing that reflects the ugliness of this time, it's surely the murder of the architect and urban expert, Rexhep Luci - the man who was killed because he loved the city of Pristina so much.


If there is the slightest civilized conscience left, Pristina residents should ask themselves - what have we achieved so far?


Veton Surroi is the publisher of Koha Ditore. His article appeared in the paper this week.


More IWPR's Global Voices