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 Adelphi Univ. (N.Y.) as adjunct faculty.. Dr.Repishti was born in Shkoder, Albania in 1925. After the Italian occupation of 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 years 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 citizenship.
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 collected)
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. 2011) 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.