1989 Kosovo miners' strike

The 1989 Kosovo miners' strike was a hunger strike initiated by the workers of the Trepča Mines on 20 February 1989 against the abolition of the autonomy of the Province of Kosovo by the Socialist Republic of Serbia.[1] The strike quickly gained support in Slovenia and Croatia, while in Belgrade protests were held against the Slovenian, Albanian and Croatian leaderships. It eventually ended after the hospitalization of 180 miners and the resignation of the leaders of the League of Communists of Kosovo Rahman Morina, Ali Shukriu and Husamedin Azemi.[1][2]


SFR Yugoslavia was a federal republic consisting of republics including SR Serbia, which in turn had two autonomous provinces, SAP Vojvodina and SAP Kosovo. Kosovo was inhabited mostly by Kosovo Albanians and the 1974 Yugoslav Constitution gave Kosovo a then-unprecedented level of autonomy, but after Josip Broz Tito's death in 1980, Kosovo's autonomy began to be questioned by Serbian politicians.

Following the 1981 riots in Kosovo, which the League of Communists of Kosovo declared to be a product of Albanian nationalism, Serbia reacted by a desire to reduce the power of the Albanians in the province, and promoted a campaign claiming that Serbs were being pushed out of the province primarily by the growing Albanian population and not the state of the economy.[3] In November 1988, 2,000 Albanian miners protested for the preservation of autonomy by marching from the southern mines to Kosovo's capital Pristina with support from another 6,000 other citizens along the way.[3]

1989 strikes

The League of Communists of Serbia under Slobodan Milošević engaged in a process of replacement of provincial leaders known as the "anti-bureaucratic revolution", whereby the local politicians were overthrown and replaced by Milošević loyalists.[1] As the National Assembly of Serbia was preparing constitutional changes that would have formally reduced the level of provincial autonomy, about 1,350 Trepča miners began their underground hunger strike on 20 February 1989 with similar demands about the preservation of the region's autonomous status and the resignation of pro-Milošević politicians of Kosovo. After the announcement of the strike Linda Abrashi, daughter of the head of the mines contacted journalist Goran Milić, who set up interviews with the workers in the underground mines. As Milić considered the broadcast of the interviews by Belgrade TV unlikely, he managed to broadcast them with the assistance of another journalist Bane Vukašinović, who at that time was located in Skopje.[1] After the broadcast, the heads of Belgrade TV ordered Milić to return to Belgrade and the miners' strike report was his last one from Kosovo.

In Belgrade, media and Serbian politicians accused Azem Vllasi, a provincial leader of the League of Communists, as the instigator of the strikes, although he denied any involvement in the events. Milošević prepared a plan that would allow him to send police reinforcements to Kosovo, but his plan didn't have the majority vote needed by the other members of the federal Presidency of Yugoslavia.[2] Stipe Šuvar negotiated with the miners as a representative of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia.[4] After about a week, some 180 miners had been hospitalized.[1]

On the evening of 27 February 1989, Rahman Morina, Ali Shukriu and Husamedin Azemi, heads of the pro-Milošević faction in Kosovo, resigned. Late in the evening, the Presidency of Yugoslavia met and decided on "special measures" for Kosovo that effectively instituted an unrestricted state of emergency.[2]

Only 50 strikers were left, the ones who had barricaded themselves inside the "Stari trg" mine, at 850 m underground.[5] At midnight, the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit descended through the fire escape shafts, as elevators where disabled, and started arresting the strikers.[5]

The aforementioned "special measures" prompted a move of 1,500 federal police troops under Serbian leadership to Kosovo, where they began a campaign of oppression of Kosovo Albanians or re-establishing a civil order.[2]


A day after the end of the strikes the Slovenian Committee for Human Rights and the Slovene Writers' Association held a mass meeting in Cankar Hall, where Serbian interventionism in Kosovo was condemned and support for the strikers was expressed.[1] During the meeting Jožef Školč, head of the Slovene Youth Organization (SYO) compared the situation of the Albanians in Yugoslavia to that of the Jews during WWII, while Milan Kučan, head of the League of Communists of Slovenia labeled the strike as a defense of Yugoslavia.[1] The SYO also introduced a badge based on the star of David with the text Kosovo My Homeland. In response against the Slovenian actions a protest that attracted about a million people was held in Belgrade, while the Association of Writers of Serbia (AWS) broke off its relations with the Slovene Writers' Association.[6] The Belgrade protesters among others requested the cancellation of the resignation of Morina, Shukriu, Azemi and the arrest and execution of Vllasi.[2] In protest the Albanian members of the AWS left the organization and accused the Serbian writers of support to the repression of Albanians.[7]

About a month after the end of the strike the parliament of Kosovo was surrounded by tanks and the Serbian police and the deputies were brought in to vote for the effective revocation of the region's autonomy.[8] Most of the Albanian deputies abstained in order to invalidate the process as a two-thirds majority was required for constitutional amendments, however, the amendments were declared passed.[3] The region's provincial status was not formally abolished as Milošević needed its vote to gain influence in the federal presidency of Yugoslavia.[9][8]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Kurspahić, Kemal (2003). Prime time crime: Balkan media in war and peace. US Institute of Peace Press. p. 49. ISBN 9781929223381. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e Meier, Viktor (19 July 1999). Yugoslavia: a history of its demise. Routledge. pp. 84–5. ISBN 9780415185967. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Ramet, Sabrina P. (18 February 2010). Central and Southeast European Politics Since 1989. Cambridge University Press. p. 361. ISBN 9780521716161. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  4. ^ "40,000 Protest to Back Yugoslav Miners' Strike". Los Angeles Times. 25 February 1989. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Komandosi uvek spremni za žestoku akciju" [Commandos always ready for intense action]. Najpoznatije akcije. Blic (in Serbian). 10 August 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
  6. ^ Ramet, Sabrina P. (2006). The three Yugoslavias: state-building and legitimation, 1918–2005. Indiana University Press. p. 364. ISBN 9780253346568. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  7. ^ Jović, Dejan (2009). Yugoslavia: a state that withered away. Purdue University Press. p. 334-5. ISBN 9781557534958. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  8. ^ a b Judah, Tim (29 September 2008). Kosovo: what everyone needs to know. Oxford University Press. p. 56. ISBN 9780195376739. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  9. ^ Krieger, Heike (12 July 2001). The Kosovo Conflict and International Law: An Analytical Documentation 1974–1999. Cambridge University Press. p. 522. ISBN 9780521800716. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
Anti-bureaucratic revolution

The anti-bureaucratic revolution was a campaign of street protests by supporters of Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević that ran between 1988 and 1989 in Yugoslavia. The protests overthrew the governments of the Serbian autonomous provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo, as well as the government of the Socialist Republic of Montenegro, and replaced them with allies of Milošević, thereby creating a dominant voting bloc within the Yugoslav presidency council.

The name anti-bureaucratic revolution is derived from the proclaimed revolt against bureaucratic and corrupt governing structures.

The events were condemned by the communist governments of the western Yugoslav republics (especially SR Slovenia and SR Croatia), who successfully resisted the attempts to expand the revolt onto their territories, and turned against Milošević. The rising antagonism eventually resulted in the dissolution of the ruling League of Communists of Yugoslavia in 1990, and subsequently in the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Association of Writers of Serbia

The Association of Writers of Serbia (UKS) (Serbian: Удружење књижевника Србије, Udruženje književnika Srbije) is Serbia's official writing association, and its current president is Milovan Vitezović.

Azem Vllasi

Azem Vllasi (born 23 December 1948) is a senior Kosovo Albanian politician and lawyer.

Fadil Hoxha

Fadil Hoxha (Serbian: Фадиљ Хоџа, Fadilj Hodža) (15 March 1916 – 22 April 2001) was an ethnic Albanian Yugoslavian politician from Kosovo. He was a member of the Communist party and fought in the Yugoslav Partisans during the World War II. After the war, he was the first Chairman of the Executive Council of the Autonomous Region of Kosovo and Metohija (1945-1963) and later member of the Presidium of Yugoslavia (1974-1984).

KF Trepça'89

KF Trepça'89 (Albanian: Klubi Futbollistik Trepça'89), commonly known as Trepça'89, is a professional football club based in Mitrovica, Kosovo. The club plays in the Football Superleague of Kosovo, which is the top tier of football in the country.

Peter Čeferin

Peter Čeferin is a Slovenian attorney and the author of articles on issues related to the legal profession (specifically the position and profession of practicing attorneys). He is the father of Aleksander Čeferin, the current president of UEFA and FIFA council member.

Ragip Jashari

Ragip Jashari (Serbo-Croat: Ragip Jašari) (November 11, 1961 – April 19, 1999), was an Albanian politician and patriot.

Stari Trg mine

The Stari Trg mine (Serbian: Рудник Стари Трг, Rudnik Stari Trg) is one of the largest lead and zinc mines in Kosovo. The mine is located in Leposavić. The mine has reserves amounting to 0.432 million tonnes of ore grading 5.1% lead, 2.21% zinc and 80.5gr/t silver thus resulting 22,000 tonnes of lead, 9,600 tonnes of zinc and 35 tonnes of silver. The 1989 Kosovo miners' strike took place and ended in the mine, and spread to the entire Kosovo as a general strike. In order to stop the strike, turning into an open unrest, the yugoslav government decided to impose martial law in the region.

Stipe Šuvar

Stipe Šuvar (February 17, 1936 – June 29, 2004) was a leading Croatian and Yugoslav politician and sociologist. He entered top politics in 1972 being co-opted to the Central Committee (CC) of the League of Communists of Croatia (LCC). Two years later he became Croatian minister of education and performed a controversial educational reform in Croatia. In 1980s he was a member of the CC LCC Presidium, then a member and chairman the Presidium of the CC of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY). In 1989 Croatian Parliament elected Šuvar a member of the Presidency of Yugoslavia but dismissed him one year later when, after the first multi-party elections in Croatia, it was already dominated by Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) of Franjo Tudjman. After the collapse of socialism and of Yugoslavia, Šuvar founded the magazine Hrvatska ljevica and the Socialist Labour Party of Croatia (SRP). Šuvar was known as a lifelong Marxist ideologist and opponent of nationalism. Unlike many other Yugoslav communist officials, he remained a proponent of socialism after the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Trepča Mines

The Trepça Mines (Albanian: Miniera e Trepçës, Serbian: Рудник Трепча / Rudnik Trepča) is a large industrial complex in Kosovo, located 9 km (5.6 mi) northeast of Mitrovica. The mine is located on the southern slopes of the Kopaonik mountain, between the peaks of Crni Vrh (1,364 m (4,475 ft)) and Majdan 1,268 m (4,160 ft), and it is Europe's largest lead-zinc and silver ore mine.With up to 23,000 employees, Trepča was once one of the biggest companies in Yugoslavia. In the 1930s, a British company gained the rights to exploit the Stari Trg mine close to Mitrovica. After World War II, under socialist management, the company further expanded.


Yugoslavia (; Serbo-Croatian: Jugoslavija/Југославија [juɡǒslaːʋija]; Slovene: Jugoslavija [juɡɔˈslàːʋija]; Macedonian: Југославија [juɡɔˈsɫavija]; Pannonian Rusyn: Югославия, transcr. Juhoslavija; literally "Land of Southern Slavs") was a country in Southeastern and Central Europe for most of the 20th century. It came into existence after World War I in 1918 under the name of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes by the merger of the provisional State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (it was formed from territories of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire) with the Kingdom of Serbia, and constituted the first union of the South Slavic people as a sovereign state, following centuries in which the region had been part of the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary. Peter I of Serbia was its first sovereign. The kingdom gained international recognition on 13 July 1922 at the Conference of Ambassadors in Paris. The official name of the state was changed to Kingdom of Yugoslavia on 3 October 1929.

Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis powers on 6 April 1941. In 1943, a Democratic Federal Yugoslavia was proclaimed by the Partisan resistance. In 1944 King Peter II, then living in exile, recognised it as the legitimate government. The monarchy was subsequently abolished in November 1945. Yugoslavia was renamed the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia in 1946, when a communist government was established. It acquired the territories of Istria, Rijeka, and Zadar from Italy. Partisan leader Josip Broz Tito ruled the country as president until his death in 1980. In 1963, the country was renamed again, as the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY).

The six constituent republics that made up the SFRY were the SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, SR Croatia, SR Macedonia, SR Montenegro, SR Serbia, and SR Slovenia. Serbia contained two Socialist Autonomous Provinces, Vojvodina and Kosovo, which after 1974 were largely equal to the other members of the federation. After an economic and political crisis in the 1980s and the rise of nationalism, Yugoslavia broke up along its republics' borders, at first into five countries, leading to the Yugoslav Wars. From 1993 to 2017, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia tried political and military leaders from the former Yugoslavia for war crimes, genocide and other crimes.

After the breakup, the republics of Serbia and Montenegro formed a reduced federation, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), which aspired to the status of sole legal successor to the SFRY, but those claims were opposed by the other former republics. Eventually, Serbia and Montenegro accepted the opinion of the Badinter Arbitration Committee about shared succession. In 2003 the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was renamed to State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. The union peacefully broke up when Serbia and Montenegro became independent states in 2006, while Kosovo proclaimed its independence from Serbia in 2008.

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