Museum in ex-prison opens to document Kosovo's journey - InfoNews

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Museum in ex-prison opens to document Kosovo's journey

June 12, 2020 - 10:35 AM

PRISTINA, Kosovo - Kosovo on Friday inaugurated a new museum documenting the stages of ethnic Albanians' fight for independence since World War II.

The museum, in a former prison, was opened as Kosovo marked its liberation day 21 years ago, when NATO forces set foot in the former Yugoslav province.

A 78-day allied bombing campaign in 1999 ended Serbia’s bloody crackdown on an insurrection by the majority ethnic Albanian population in Kosovo, which Serbs consider their historic and religious heartland.

The war left more than 10,000 dead, and 1,641 are still missing. Kosovo declared independence in 2008 and is recognized by more than 110 countries, including the United States and the main Western powers, but not by Serbia and its allies, Russia or China.

The former prison that hosts the museum was built by political prisoners during the communist regime in Yugoslavia in 1945. The exhibit documents the time from then, through Serbia's emergence from the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s until Kosovo effectively broke away from Serbia in 1999.

Culture Minister Vlora Dumoshi said a covered bridge was used to bring detainees from a nearby police station, where some of them were tortured, to the cells.

Meriman Braha, a former prisoner. said the cells had no beds, just a plank of wood on four legs. Isolation cells had a metal plate with 36 holes in it instead of a window.

Graffiti on the wall ironically announces: “welcome.”

The museum covers the various post-World War II stages, including resistance efforts in the 1960s, the demonstrations of 1968 and 1981 seeking to turn the province into a republic, and the time after Serbia became independent in 1990 until Kosovo's liberation in 1999.

“The museum of peace is an integral part of our history which we should tell so that it is not forgotten,” Dumoshi said.

Later Friday the left-wing Movement for Self-Determination party held a rally to celebrate the liberation day, but also to criticize Kosovo's government.

Thousands of people attended the rally in central Pristina, ignoring social distancing rules.

The party leader, former prime minister Albin Kurti, said fighting corruption remained the country's main challenge and called for early elections

Kurti was replaced by Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti after losing a confidence vote in late March.

Kosovo and its population of 1.8 million has been in continuous political squabbling that often hampers its economic development and the rule of law and keeps its democratic institutions weak and not focused on fighting high levels of poverty and unemployment.

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Llazar Semini contributed from Tirana, Albania.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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