Wednesday, December 21, 2011

BRAVO! Prof. Sami Repishti

Jane and I first met Sami Repishti more than 40 years ago who was introduced to us by our good friend, Agim Leka. Over the years, I have noted how Sami was often the sole voice in the Albanian community at large to cite the brutal treatment of the citizens of Kosova by Serbia. Indeed, Sami, for many years, and at his own expense, published an informative Kosova newsletter that brought the plight of Kosovar Albanians to the attention of both the Albanian community at large and the broader non-Albanian community.

More recently, Sami has had several honors heaped upon him including the naming of a street after him in Shkodra, Albania, where he was born. Because I am intent on spreading the word about this most distinguished Albanian-American, below is Sami's biography that I am pleased to post to the Frosina Blog that is visited by as many as 40 and/or as few as 15 different foreign counties each day.

For those of you who do not know him, permit me to introduce Prof. Sami Repishti, the recent recipient below of a Certificate of Outstanding Contributions from the City of New York.


Office of the President - Borough of Manhattan
City of New York

Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer
is honored to award this




For contributions to the success of his birth country, Albania, and
to his adopted country, the United States and for helping to foster good relations
between the two countries.


signature: Scott M. Stringer
Manhattan Borough President


A brief biography : Sami Repishti, Ph.D. (1925- )

Sami Repishti, a U.S. citizen of Albanian extraction, received his
Ph.D.(French,‘77) from the Graduate Center of the C.U.N.Y. after prior studies
in Florence (Italy) and the Sorbonne (French Govt. scholarship). His doctoral
thesis analyzes The Theme of the Revolution in the Novels of Andre Malraux. In
the U.S., for 25 years he taught French and Italian in high schools (department
chair) and at Adelphi Univ. (N.Y.) as adjunct faculty.

Dr. Repishti was born in Shkoder, Albania, in 1925. After the Italian occupation in Albania
in 1939, as a student he joined the resistance groups. With the Communist
takeover, November 1944, revolted by the terror of the new regime, he opposed
the Communist-installed government. Arrested, and tortured, he was sentenced to
15 years in jail, of which he spent ten as a political prisoner.

WW2 was cruel to him and his family. His father, H. Ibrahim Repishti a
religious leader and a congressman,(1923-24) perished as a victim of fascist
terror (1943), and his 17 year old cousin, Zyhdi Repishti, was executed at the
Mauthausen Nazi camp (1944) His mother, Hava, of the nobility family Bushati,
his young sister and brother spent years in communist concentration camps of
Berat and Tepelene. His jail experience is described in the two volumes, Tear
Drops-Prison Stories (1997,2008) and In Rozafa’s Shadow- My Life Narrated(2004).
Released from jail, but under constant Sigurimi surveillance, he escaped to
Yugoslavia (1959)where he was kept incommunicado for a year, before being
locked in a refugee camp. In a second daring escape, he entered Italy and in
1962 emigrated to the U.S. as a political refugee. In 1968 he received American

Dr. Repishti’s past has defined his present and has chartered his future. While
still pursuing his studies, he devoted himself to the cause of human rights. The
1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights was his polar star. Member of AI-USA,
he concentrated on publicizing the violations of human rights of the Albanian
population in the former Yugoslavia, primarily in Kosovo, a rallying point for
Albanian Americans.

Dr. Repishti is the first person to testify on Kosovo before the U.S. Congress,
April 1965. For over three decades, he would report regularly on the events that
alienated the Albanians in the former Yugoslavia. In the U.S. Congress, he met
with the Hon. Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor. In him, he found a very good
ear. Past suffering brought the two “victims” closer

“The Yugoslav bloody repression of the Albanian insurrectionists in fall and
spring 1945, the massacres of Tetova and Gostivar, the arms collection
operations in 1955-56, the forced emigration of Albanians to Turkey, the brutal
methods of UDB under A.Rankovic, the crushing of peaceful student
demonstrations, especially in l981, undermined the legitimacy of Yugoslavia and
Serbia in the eyes of the Albanians” he wrote. The bloody events that ensued
until the 1999 liberation of Kosovo by the NATO forces, were the logical
consequence of those oppressive Yugoslav Communist Government policies.
With the signing of the 1975 Helsinki Accord, he saw a large window of
opportunity open. Every year, he sent a “Memorandum on the Violations of Human
Rights of the Albanian Population in Yugoslavia” to the UN Secretary General , a
collection of data and documents, in his capacity as co-founder and ideologue of
“The Albanian Kosovar Youth in the Free World“, a group of volunteer human right
activists, established in 1968. In 1977, he did the same with the CSCE. (US
Amb.Max Kampelman in Madrid) Later on, he also approached, with Arshi Pipa, the
European Parliament President (Otto von Hapsburg), with a Petition on Kosova
Most of the written material used to propagate the problem of Kosova was
distributed in front of the U.N. Headquarters, New York, aiming at sensitizing
the member States of the U.N. It was later assembled in two volumes: “Ethnic
Albanians in Yugoslavia: Ten Memorandums (1985) and “Breaking the Silence- A
Voice for Kosova” (2001). Dr.Repishti also co-authored the volume

Human Rights in Yugoslavia (C.U.P. 1986)
In 1968, he attended a Symposium on Skenderbeu and co-authored the volume
Albania (Rome,1970) In 1978,.during the ceremony for the centennial of the
Albanian League of Prizren, (New York) he appealed for organized activities in
the Diaspora. It resulted in the collection of aid for the families of the
political prisoners in Kosovo, a work not without personal peril, The Kosova
Relief Fund USA, Inc, was set up. Dr Repishti was elected its president, an
assignment he kept until the year 2000.(In 1999 alone over $ 600.000 in aid were

In 1982, Dr. Repishti succeeded in mobilizing a group of intellectuals forming
an academic nucleus dealing with the Kosovo issue, as well as a coalition of
Albanian religious leaders in America. An International Conference on Kosova
(November 1982) was held at the Graduate Center of the CUNY. attended by
fourteen American and European professors. The proceedings were published in
Studies on Kosova (C.U.P: 1984) (with Arshi Pipa) The Conference was a
resounding success!

In 1986, Dr. Repishti met with, and presented a Petition to, then Vice-President
G.H.W. Bush requesting the opening of an Information Office in Prishtina. It was
rejected but he persisted, and in 1996, the Office was opened among the jubilant
Albanian crowds. He was, then, the executive director of the Albanian American
Civic League (1986-1991)

In 1991, immediately after the fall of communism in Albania, which he greeted
enthusiastically, he wrote a booklet for general use Albania in Brief
-History-Language-Literature (N.Y.1992), and produced a volume (with Ismail
Haznedari) Albanian-Language Competencies for Peace Corps Volunteers in Albania,
(Peace Corps, Washington,D.C.1992)

In 1993, Dr.Repishti co-founded the organization American Friends of Albania,
(treasurer/secretary) a group that lobbied Washington for economic assistance to
Albania. The result was the formation of the American Enterprise Fund, later
ending in the American Albanian Bank in Tirana,Albania. (The organization was
later dissolved).

In 1996, Dr Repishti, co-founded the National Albanian American Council
(N.A.A.C.); and was elected its first president (May 1996-December 1998). NAAC
continues to operate successfully, and is seen today as the most efficient and
prestigious Albanian American organization in the United States. In his
capacity, he met with the highest federal authorities of the US Congress,
Government and Presidency.

His only trip to the liberated Kosova was taken in April 2000, and is described
in a volume, Kosova-2000-Impressions (Prishtine,2000) (with Harry Bajraktari).
Dr.Repishti is the author, of The Seminar On Chameria (2002) and of several
hundred essays and articles in the American and Albanian press mostly dealing
with human rights including: a study on “Jews in Albania-A Story of
Survival“(2009) published by the Rosenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies, CUNY
N.Y). He was awarded several medals and certificates of appreciation by the
American, Albanian and Kosova governments, including the League of Prizren Gold
Medal by Dr.I.Rugova, President of Kosova.

In 2011, the City of Shkoder named one street after its native son, “Rruga Sami
Repishti” The Manhattan Borough President awarded him a Citation for outstanding
citizenship (Nov. 2011). His latest book “The Dialectics of the Order and the
Rebellion in the works of Andre Malraux was published in Tirana, Albania (Nov.

Happy to see a free, independent and democratic Albania and Kosova, Dr.Repishti
has retired, but remains active. He is married to the former Diana Chipi, a
teacher, and his wife of 47 years. The couple has a son, Daren, a practicing
physician, and a daughter Ava, a lawyer, and five grandchildren.

Presently, the Repishti’s live in Ridgefield, CT USA.


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