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Isa Boletini (1864-1916), Hero of Kosovo, was a prominent Albanian patriot, strategist, military leader, visionary and believer in fair pacifism who fought for the remaining of Kosovo within Albania. Isa was born in Boletin, a village in the Mitrovica region, his real name was Isa Shala. Isa joined the Albanian Prizren League forces when he was only 17, and fought in the battle of Slivova against Ottoman forces. Later, Boletini became a major figure of Albanian resistance against the Ottomans, Serbia and Montenegro.
During the late 19th century, Boletini was member of Albanian movements which sought the unification of four Ottoman vilayets (Kosovo, Shkodra, Manastir and Ioannina) into an independent Albanian state. In 1902, Boletini was deported to Istanbul by the Ottomans, where he remained until 1906. He was deputy of Kosovo in the Ottoman Assembly between 1908-1912.
During the popular uprising against the Ottoman Empire in 1912, which engulfed all Albanian populated lands, Albanian patriots decided to establish an independent state. On November 28, 1912 in Vlora (the 469 anniversary of Kruja’s liberation by Skanderbeg, who raised the Albanian flag) the Albanian National Assembly created the independent state of Albania. Isa Boletini was the leader of the Kosovo representatives, who unanimously decided to join the new state.
Isa Boletini contributed in the protection of Vlora government, while later was part of the Albanian delegation to the London Conference (1913) together with Ismail Qemali, Albanian head of state. The Albanian delegation wanted a Kosovo within the borders of the newly founded state of Albania, however the Great Powers conceded them only about a third of the demanded land.
During World War I, Boletini was involved in the Kachak guerrilla movement against Serbia. Isa Boletini, along with several other of his closest relatives, was killed by Montenegrin forces led by Radomir Vešović, on January 23, 1916, in an abortive attempt to capture the Montenegrin town of Podgorica in the wake of an Austro-Hungarian military advance.
Isa Boletini bound his and his family’s life with the destiny of his fatherland, for which his love and loyalty are remembered with his words: “I am well when Albania is well” (“Unë jam mirë kur asht mirë Shqipnia”). He was noted for always wearing the traditional Albanian white cap (plis) and national dress.