Kadri Halimi (1921 – 2001)

Kadri Halimi was born in a village called Crnica, near Gnjilane/Gjilan, on 9 February 1921. His grandfather was the organiser of the uprising against the Serbian occupation of Kosovo in 1912. A student of the Great Madrasa in Skopje, Halimi became a communist, and in 1942 became the founder of the first communist cell in Gnjilane/Gjilan. At the end of the war, Halimi enrolled at university and, in 1950, became the first Albanian to graduate Ethnology at Belgrade University. He became an assistant at the Ethnology Department and published a book of Albanian folk poetry from Kosovo and Metohija.

Halimi was arrested on 10 May 1952 and sentenced to two years imprisonment in Goli Otok. His arrest was due to his expressing dissatisfaction regarding the status of the Albanian national minority in Yugoslavia. After being released on 6 of July 1954, Halimi became the curator of the Museum of Kosovo and Metohija. Despite having been persecuted for his views, Halimi continued his political activities and in 1960, together with other Albanian Goli Otok prisoners, he set up the ‘Revolutionary Committee for the Uniting of Albanian Territories in Yugoslavia and Albania.’

He was arrested again in 1961, this time for his work as the leader of the Anti-Revisionist Revolutionary Committee for the Liberation of Kosovo’, and organisation that, with the support of the Albanian communist president Enver Hoxha, attempted to unite all of the Albanian separatist organisations. Halimi remained in prison until 1968, and the mass student protests in Kosovo that took place that year included, among other demands, that Halimi be the delegate of the Kosovo Albanians. While Halimi was able to publish his work under his own name following his first release, he could not do so after the 1961 arrest.

During the 1990s, Halimi worked at the Albanian Institute in Prishtina, which, due to the repressive Serbian regime, operated illegally between 1994-1998. He collaborated closely with Ibrahim Rugova, the president of the Kosovo Democratic Union. He published a series of scientific studies from the areas of ethnology, cultural anthropology and folklore. He died in Prishtina on 19 September 2001.