Pristina staged a lavish ceremony to mark the 15th anniversary of the killings of Kosovo Liberation Army commander Adem Jashari and his family.Hundreds of security troops paraded in the capital on Tuesday as political leaders recalled the role that Jasheri, one of the founders of the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, played in their wartime struggle against Yugoslav forces.
Trumpets sounded as some of Jashari’s surviving relatives, politicians and representatives of the War Veterans Association laid wreaths at a monument erected in his memory outside Kosovo security forces’ headquarters in Pristina.
“Glory and honour to all those who fought for the freedom we enjoy today,” the former KLA commander’s brother, Rifat Jashari, said at the ceremony.
Rifat Jashari was among 10 members of the family who were living abroad and therefore survived a siege by Yugoslav forces on the Jashari home in Prekaz in March 1998 which killed the former commander and some 40 others.
The house is now the site of a museum and a KLA shrine, while Pristina’s airport has also been named after the ex-guerrilla commander.
Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga opened Tuesday’s ceremony, which marks the start of a three-day memorial event.
A commander of KLA operations in the Drenica area, Jashari, known as the ‘legendary commander’ by people in Kosovo, took part in a number of attacks on Yugoslav forces before he was killed.At the ceremony, prime minister and former KLA political leader Hashim Thaci said the guerrillas had helped push Kosovo forwards towards freedom and independence.
“We bow our heads before the freedom martyrs’ sacrifice,” Thaci said.
Events to commemorate Jashari will continue for the next two days, culminating with a firework display on Thursday evening in Skenderaj/Srbica, not far from where he died.
His death is commemorated every year as part of celebrations of the role that the KLA played in Kosovo’s independence battles.
Kosovo declared independence in 2008, but Serbia has vowed never to recognise it.