Albanian-Americans organize fundraiser dinner with Congressman Jamaal Bowman

On Friday, February 9th, a group of 20 or so Albanian-American professionals and business owners organized a fundraiser dinner with Congressman Jamaal Bowman at the well known Albanian restaurant in the Bronx Çka Ka Qëllu. Congressman Bowman represents the NY-16 congressional district in Washington DC, which covers areas of the North Bronx and South Westchester that have a considerable Albanian-American constituency. He is facing a tough primary challenge this election year by Westchester County Executive George Latimer.

Congressman Bowman wanted to hear from the community regarding their concerns and current events. The group talked about Kosova and the challenges it is facing in asserting its sovereignty in the face of constant Serbian intransigence and sabotage. Some in the group were critical of the role the US Ambassador has recently played in Kosova in pressuring the Kurti government to backtrack on sovereignty affirming measures such as outlawing the use of any foreign currencies.

Congressman Bowman was eager to learn about the long history of the oppression of the Albanian people in the Balkans. One of the attendees shared a moving account of how 17 members of his extended family had been killed in the 1998-99 Kosova War and how no one on the Serbian side has yet been held accountable, including for the kidnapping and murder of the three US citizen Bytyçi brothers. Congressman Bowman vowed to the attendees to lend his voice and support in Congress to these concerns as well as take active steps to join the Albanian Issues Congressional Caucus, currently led by Rep. Ritchie Torres of the Bronx.

When asked why he supported Congressman Bowman as an Albanian-American, one young attendant that gave his initials as D.B. responded: “I believe the future of the Democratic Party in America is progressive and the Albanian-American community should wholeheartedly support that. The progressives have proven to stand up for all marginalized groups and to stand up to bullies. During all our history Albanians have been tormented by bullies in the Balkans, with Serbia being the biggest bully. Congressman Bowman understands that and no one is better at standing up to bullies than a former public school principal.”

We look forward to the Congressman making an announcement this upcoming Kosova Independence Day as well as other important announcements relating to Albanian issues very soon!

Prepared by A. Taraj, New York