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New Left Review I/140, July-August 1983


Michèle Lee

Kosovo between Yugoslavia and Albania

On 2 April 1981, massive demonstrations took place in the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo, an area of Yugoslavia inhabited mainly by ethnic Albanians, to demand republican status within the Yugoslav federation. By the end of the next day, the army had moved in with tanks and armoured personnel carriers to institute martial law, the first time this has happened in the country since 1945. The party leadership declared that they were fighting counter-revolution. Yet they offered no evidence to show that Kosovars were demanding restoration of capitalism in this poorest of Yugoslav provinces, plagued by far the lowest standard of living and highest rates of unemployment. The April demonstrations were not staffed by remnants of the old order suddenly resurrected by the approaching anniversary of Tito’s death. On the contrary, most of the protesters were extremely young, many still in secondary and some even in primary school.

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