"Please do not feed any ilusions. I was killed and so have they acted with the other two presidents of the Arvanitas Society "Marko Botchari" whom also died from "leucemia". I've told these words to the other friends of mine..." The words of the great arvanitas Aristidh P. Kolia before his death.
Written by KOLEC TRABOINI, Boston
Who hasn’t met the great arvanitas writer and hasn’t managed to read his writings, could never think how close to death this person was living, and this for two reasons, firstly, because all his life he had been searching both the light and dark sides of history, where bravery was mixed with infidelity, poison with the bullet and knife, and revealed the tragic end of the many arvanitas leaders who became famous through the history of Greece.
Secondly, even in the ones who until today they believe in the Great Idea to take over Albania, which reaches until the mouth of the ex-presidents like Saratzetakis, or even the kapsaliots who demand in publicity the return of Istambul in the Greek capital, they were organising plans for the neutralisation of Aristidh P. Kolia masterpiece and if it would be possible even his physical elimination.
In the extremist national newspapers, Aristidh Kolia was characterised as the enemy of Greece, as an Albanian agent, as a curse, and every possible accusations that could be told for someone. Everyone who knew the arvanitas writer would confirm that they had to do with a person of a good heart, calm, loving, patient, that was honoured to be a Greek citizen and at the same time, the Albanian blood that used to boil in his heart.
And exactly it was for the Albanian blood that the ghosts of the Great Idea used to hate him, which was also expressed from an Albanian athlete Piro Dhima who used to say that if he had Albanian blood running through his veins, then he would cut his veins so that not even one drop of that blood would remain from that nation where he was born and grew up.
In this atmosphere of humiliation towards Albanians and Arvanits, the writer and researcher Aristidh Kolia used to live.
But it was not only for the overall atmosphere, but also for the hidden and public threats for his life, threats that he had spoken about to his Albanian friend, the painter Robert Alia Dragot, who had worked two of his book covers.
Letters, phone calls, phonecall detections, followind every step, and especially during the war in Kosova, in the anxiety of the proserb and antialbanian greeks, the courage of the extremist greeks became even greater and they even reached at that point to fill the walls of the Greek capital with messages asking for the punishment with death of the writer of the book ‘Greece in the trap of Millosevic’s serbs’.
Aristidh Kolia, within the proserb Greece, had the courage to protect the liberation war rights of UCK at tens of TV programmes and everywhere at the greek media, by going against that hysterical propaganda against our Kosovan brothers, during the massacres of the barbaric serbs in Kosova and the bombings of NATO on the remainings of the called Yugoslavia.
Aristidh Kolia, as a leader of the Arvanitas community in Greece ‘Marko Bocari’, will be accused continuously from the ultranational greek orthodox powers, for the reality of the Kosova’s events, ( ‘I am also Kosovar – was written in his magazine ‘Arvanon’), and also for the reality of the Albanians in Greece, whom he represented through his community – recognisable from the Greek law. ‘He – the lawyer Ilir Malindi wrote – would be driven to the court from the ultrareactional greek organisation, and would be threatened with death. It is not a coincidence, that in the whole Athens, in summer 1999 (during the tragic events in Kosova) there were thousands of messages, where it was asked the hanging of Aristidh Kola and his death’.
It was that atmosphere, when a TV discussion directed from the commentator Liana Kaneli, of the greek TV ‘Skai’, turned into an aggressive attack from her and the other fanatic greeks of the media towards the invited writer Aristidh Kolia, as if he was the enemy of the whole Greece.
The arvanitas writer responded to the public attacks of the media with seriousness, without aggression, with a level that was suitable to his name as a great writer and researcher, whose writings were widely known and were re-edited many times.
‘Many friends called me to express their concerns about the mood that Mrs. Liana Kaneli threw on me, during the TV programme at ‘Skai’ 5 May 1999, and asked me why I faced it calm, while I should attack them back… My friends, do not worry and do not bitter for this, because ‘the truth reveals when its time comes’… I have loved and I do love my country, but my love is not with words but with my writings, which will be remembered when Mrs. Kaneli will be forgotten in time. I have always preferred to go against the stream and not from where the stream goes and where the air blows. I have never licked and I have never kissed the dirty feet and for this I am paying it very expensive and in a daily way with my honour of my knowledges and my freedom…’
However, the great heart of Aristidh Kolia knew how much stress and how much damage they brought to his creation, how many shakings they brought also to his family, because the pressure of the community opinion used to fall also upon his family, his relatives and friends.
Aristidh Kolia used to be followed in silence, in the intentions of trying to make his life hell, because he was the person who gave rebirth to the honour and pride of the many hundred of thousands of Arvanits around Greece. It was Aristidh Kolia the first arvanitas writer who wrote in his books that the Arvanits should be proud, because 90 per cent of the heroes of the revolution for the Greek Independence were arvanits from blood and language.
Thanks to his ability of history research, for which he left his profession of lawyer, he gave facts that not only the sons of the arvanits were the heroes of the Greek nation, but also that the culture and arts of Arvanits had now become part of the national Greek traditions including the songs, dresses and continued until he reached to explain the ancient greek mythology through the arvanitas language, the names of the Olympic gods, something that could not be explained through the greek language.
His book ‘Arvanits and the origin of Greeks’, was first edited in 1983, a volume book with more than 500 pages was edited more than ten times in Greece, and became like the Bible for the Arvanits, who had kept secret for so many years their feelings of pride for their origins of the Albanian blood.
Together with the book ‘The language of Gods’ first edited in 1989, which Aristidh Kolia used to consider as part of the chapter in the big book ‘Arvanits’, they made two monuments that Aristidh Kolia raised for his people, and with this monument his name remains immortal.
He together with the great Antonia Bellushi, in the year 1988, close to the national organisation, make officially known that in Greece live more than 2 million Albanians, and also that there were more than 600 accommodation centres of Albanian-speakers. This became public through many ways of media, starting from the magazine of Kozenca ‘Bond’ that was published from Papas Bellushi.
It was for these writings of his monumental aim and the acts of the national greek extremists, who dreamed their public burning in the court together with their heretic writer.
Without having power from the law (the Greek law is democratic), they used more diluted methods to make his life unaffordable with the hope that he would leave his writings. Firstly, they were asking, the killing of his creation by destroying its source, by creating stories that the author is a betrayer of Greece, in order to make the arvanits to go away from his writings, his organisations, the buyings and readings of the magazine that Aristidh Kolia used to publish as a leader of the Center of the Arvanits Research, in the beginning known with the name ‘Besa’ and later as ‘Arvanon’.
The use of the other diluted method which was also the platform of the greek media, newspapers and TV, was to make put dirt publicly about the Albanian emigrants as people born to kill and steal.
These kind of propagandas reached until the point to make a village near Athens with Arvanits habitants, to gather the whole village and make Albanians go away, by using the arms of fire and agricultural tools.
Aristidh Kolia was feeling the things that were happening, and was smelling the wrong intentions of the official propaganda that with one stone it could kill two birds, it used to put dirt upon the Albanian emigrants as an oppression to the Albanian government to give lands from the south of Albania, and secondly to make the arvanits population hate their own brothers of the same Albanian blood who came in Greece many centuries ago.
The arvanitas writer had the courage to stigmatize these sneaky trials of the greek media that used to synchronise perfectly with the ultranationalists of Greece.
All that anti-albanian propaganda, all that atmosphere with the aim of killing the honour of being Albanian, was counting to create the fascist desire for the Arvanits to consider themselves as the same blood with the emigrants of lower level who used to work as slaves for few drahmes without value, and in turn the creation of Aristidh would lose its colour, would be left aside as the writings of a person that does not know what he is saying. But, it did not happen like this. The creation of the great arvanitas writer met a distribution wider and wider, his magazine with research for the traditions and culture of the arvanits was in demand, and from the other side Kolia continued to publish new writings.
He had many books in his hands. He had so much work to do. Lately he was preparing the Arvanitas-Greek dictionary, which would distinguish the Arvanitas language from the official Greek language.
It had been for a while that he had expressed the idea of publishing a dictionary with a latin alphabet for the Albanians of Greece, so that he could bring closer the Albanian language and communication with history, culture and Albanian arts. Aristidh Kola used to cooperate with all the circles of Albanian diaspora around the world. He kept the connections and always cooperated with the Albanians in USA, with his close friend and co-researcher Papas Antonio Belushi in Kozenc of Italy, with the intellectuals of Kosova, Macedonia, Turkey and Albania. He was connected even with the Arberesh of Korsike.
As if he felt the danger of being threatened, he published a writing, and for its publishing he invited researchers, and many friends, from Greece, Albania and Italy. His closest friend had also come, the Italian researcher, Antonio Bellusi and also the Albanian ambassador in Athens, Kastriot Robo.
It was 24 May. It was the publishing of the book, when the 55 years old writer Aristidh Kolia started to feel sudden pain that hadn’t felt before. Something was happening to his organism. He was feeling something bad.
It crossed his mind all the curses and the threatens for his death a year ago. He had a hot summer in Athens with many extraordinary side effects for his sudden situation and for the luck of his writings that he was holding in his hands. September found him in bed. October was damaging his body.
Friends used to come but he couldn’t accept the sympathises. It crossed his mind as a vision, the luck of the Arvanit historical personalities for whom he had written in his own great creation ‘Arvanits’.
Teodor Kollokotroni was poisoned in jail, even though he never said with words that he was Arvanit, and his real surname kept through generations was Bithguri, Gjergj Karaskaki was killed by a trap and his last word when he caught the bullet was in the Arvanit language.
They had killed many others, including the Arvanit hero Laskarina Bubulina.
Who doesn’t know the story of the poisoned coffee aiming to vanish the famous arvanit of the previous century, the journalist from Salamina, Anastas Kullurioti?
Until lately the leakage of the poison and the bullet had reached the lives of two presidents of the community ‘Marko Bocari’. These two were more memorable to him, as they were much closer to his time. They had also been, like him, president of arvanits of Greece. And the diagnosis for both sudden deaths had been the same: Leukemia. The same symptom of deathbroughter for three presidents of arvanits of Greece, Two lives taken mysteriously, from the hands that never appear in the scene, and a third life was coming soon. It was his.
In one of the last meetings next to the bed of death, the Albanian ambassador together with the Albanian lawyer Ilir Malindi had gone to see him, and the lawyer said:
‘I had the chance to visit the great Aristidh Kola, in the last day of his life, in the hospital of Athens ‘Evangjelismos’ and I saw his hopeless situation. He told me that he was happy that the Albanian newspapers had written for his sickness… I gave him courage, saying that he would recover very soon and that together we would continue the research and new publications, but…. Ahhh! He, with disappointment and pride at the same time, told us these words:
Please do not feed any illusion. They killed me and that is how they have acted for other twoleaders of the Albanian community ‘Marko Bocari’, who also died from ‘leukemia’. I have said these words also to my other friends’ …‘I went to see him again in the first days of October- the Albanian ambassador told me from a phone discussion from Athens- but when I called him from the first floor of the hospital ‘Evangjelismo’, that is close to the embassy, he told me that that day he was feeling very bad, and would welcome his visit one of the following days. Four days later, they inform me that A ristidh died. They were extremely sad news’.
It was 11 October 2000 the day that the mysterious physical death of the writer and leader of Arvanits happened, in order to add another enigmatic death in the Greek history.
However, the second murder continues. And this happens in a platform not at all mystical and silent as the physical elimination of the writer. Everything possible is done to burry his writings together with his body. In Athens for the death of Aristidh Kolia, only one newspaper wrote. The
If the arvanits and Albanians will not understand this black mission of the Greek Great Idea( Megaloidhea), that does not even save the money and the poison, with the black intentions towards arvanits, emigrants and all the Albanian nation, then each of us, has taken his/her part with their silence in the second murder of Aristidh Kolia. The creation of the great Aristidh Kolia, that deserves a place of honour in the historic Albanian letters, can kill it both our lack of interest and the unwill of giving.
Let us think for today so that our self-consciousness does not kill us tomorrow!
'DIELLI" Vol.91, Nr.4 2000, New York
(translated in english by Aferdita Pelasgian)
Boston, 5 qershor 2008
In the heart of that angel called...Aristidh Kola