FARC-EP, News from Habana, Cuba, 15.02.2015 [En]
Announcement on minors in the conflict
It is clear that in Colombia the lack of education, opportunity and hope, generate a scenario in which children and young people end up in social marginality, exhibiting their physical and psychological integrity, or they become an easy prey for war.
This was recently reported in the Bogota Council before the commission of illegal and massive recruitments of young people by the army, through the so-called “sweeps”, conducted almost exclusively in impoverished popular sectors.
Between January 2008 and December 2012, 466,377 young people were forcibly incorporated into military service. Among high school graduates, almost 90% came from strata 0,1,2 and 3, while only 0.7 corresponded to stratum 4; 0.04% to stratum 5 and 0.02% to stratum 6 (1). In this way, the State maintains a policy of forced recruitment, changing the poor into cannon fodder in a war that only benefits the establishment, safeguarding the children of the oligarchy from the dangers of the fratricide confrontation.
We believe that the state should give up the aforementioned “sweeps”, which in many cases involve minors. The practice of the State and the paramilitaries to use children under 15 in the armed conflict should cease and they should fully recognize the right to conscientious objection to compulsory military service, considering that the respect for the inner convictions is a fundamental right of any person.
The State and its military forces have carried out a policy of using children in the conflict systematically. The target of the so-called “military civic programs” is the abuse of children and adolescents for war propaganda and recruitment: “Police for a day”, “military Circus” and others where children, far from turning them away from the conflict, are dressed in military uniforms and involved in the confrontation in a wily way. Suffice it to recall the last parade of July 20 in Bogota, where the military forces of a country immersed in a long armed conflict showed uniformed children who marched alongside military combat units.
Without any doubt, the most despicable use of children in the armed conflict by the regime has been the systematic recruitment of children under 15 years, train them first in military and police units, to infiltrate them in the ranks of the guerrilla movement, in order to gather intelligence and attack the guerrilla combatants, especially our Comandantes. Without going any further, last May 2014, the FARC-EP handed over three young people to the ICRC when it discovered they were under 15. They had been trained in military installations of the National Police, and were then infiltrated in our structures with the aim of killing guerrillas and carrying out acts of sabotage. The same thing was done with another minor last week in the department of Caquetá, trained in army battalions in the city of Bogotá, who was also handed over to the ICRC.
It should be specified that in the general development of the confrontation, some children have found refuge in our camps, along with other survivors and displaced persons, after horrific massacres, assassinations and threats against members of communities accused by state forces – whether they be military/police or paramilitary forces – of being supporters of the guerrilla.
The FARC-EP has felt obliged, on numerous occasions, to receive families, widows or surviving orphans whose parents had been killed by paramilitary groups or directly by government forces that attacked their communities. In these cases, we have always acted in compliance with the protection function to Internationally Protected Persons, conflict victims, including children, as well as serving as a refuge for people persecuted for their ideas, thoughts, origin or condition.
Contrary to what the institutional propaganda and those seeking to de-legitimize us say, under no circumstances have we proceeded to forcibly recruit minors nor any fighter; which, moreover, would be totally counterproductive for the political deployment of the FARC-EP. Our Fronts, complying with revolutionary principles and the regulations that govern us constantly have to dissuade a significant number of children from joining the FARC-EP, promoting the idea of desisting until they reach the age at which they will be able to be aware of why and wherefore they want to be linked to the insurgent struggle.
It is a notorious fact that it is not possible to keep any fighter against his will; there is also the figure of ‘separation from the organization’, in cases where for reasons of physical, psychological or disciplinary order it is not relevant or appropriate to have some particular person in our ranks.
Coinciding with the IHL, the FARC-EP rules of recruitment don’t allow enlistment of children under 15 years and those rules are clear regarding the age, stating: “The entrance to the FARC-EP is personal, voluntary and conscious between 15 and 30 years”. In this regard, the Seventh National Guerrilla Conference (1982), confirmed this rule, stating that: “4. Recruitment: The Fronts will create recruitment commissions, which must be prepared for their duty to recruit men and women who, without any exception, should be between 15 and 30 years old; (…). The recruited must be physically fit and mentally mature, ie clear about why he or she joins (…) “.
Today, as People’s Army, we want to take new steps and take effective measures which contribute to involve less and less youth in a military confrontation imposed on us and which without any doubt creates risks for the life and the fundamental rights of everyone involved. Therefore, the FARC-EP, besides considering the need to provide clear measures of de-escalation of the conflict to accelerate progress towards peace, announce to the country and to the world, taking into account the Optional Protocol of 2000, today an Appendix of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, decide not to incorporate, from now on, minors under age of 17 in the guerrilla ranks. At the same time, we express our desire to reach a peace deal with social justice soon.
Peace Delegation of the FARC-EP
(1) In Colombia, a socio-economic stratification system was implemented in the 1980’s to classify urban populations into different strata with similar economic characteristics. The system classifies areas on a scale from 1 to 6 with 1 as the lowest income area and 6 as the highest. In 1994, this stratification policy was made into law in order to grant subsidies to the poorest residents.
Bilateral Ceasefire NOW!
Havana, Cuba, site of the peace talks, February 10, 2015
We yesterday welcomed a representative delegation of compatriots members of the Broad Front for Peace, to update them about the progress of the peace talks and to take a balanced look at conditions experienced in various regions of the country in the context of the declaration of an indefinite and unilateral cease-fire by the FARC-EP on December 20, 2014.
The Broad Front for Peace delegation expressed concern when informed about the continuous military operations, such as the occupation of areas, assaults on base camps, bombings, machine-gunning and troop deployments by official forces that have led to the deaths of 14 guerrilla combatants, the wounding of many others and the capture of nine other combatants, even though the FARC-EP have fully upheld their unilateral cessation.
In consideration of the humanitarian nature of our decision, which has meant a significant decrease in the pain and suffering of our Colombian family and has helped avoid futile deaths and damage to the national economy during an ongoing peace process that has achieved significant advances, they requested that we continue our indefinite cease-fire, while they declared their ongoing willingness to continue with their patriotic job of verification and search for a bilateral cease-fire, as a formula inspired by common sense, to bring about the long desired de-escalation of the confrontation that would lead to an armistice.
In consideration of this appeal and in ratification of our unbending will to bring about a civilized end to the social, political, economic and armed conflict in our homeland through dialogue, we have taken the decision to uphold our verifiable, unilateral and indefinite cease-fire and to call on President Santos not to persist with dangerous hostile games that on a daily basis threaten to undermine our humanitarian gesture and not to further defer the decision to agree to a bilateral cease-fire, in keeping with the expressed desire of the immense majority of the people of Colombia.
Peace Delegation of the FARC-EP
English Translation Courtesy of Sean Joseph Clancy
Joint Communique 50: Mandate of the Technical Subcommission
Havana, February 12, 2014
Today, the delegations of the National Government and the FARC-EP completed the 32nd round of talks.
We made progress in establishing guidelines and operating rules for the Sub-commission of item 3. We recall that the objective of this Technical Sub-commission is to assist in the analysis of experiences, the production and discussion of initiatives and proposals on bilateral ceasefire and abandonment of weapons, as described in the attached document. The next meeting of the Sub-commission will be held on February 27 and we will receive experts in this field.
On February 10, we received the members of the Historical Commission of the Conflict and its Victims, who presented 12 reports of the experts and the 2 synthesis reports by the rapporteurs.
The Historical Commission of the conflict and its victims was created in August 2014 by the Conversation Table, with the aim of contributing to the understanding of the complexity of the historical context of the conflict and provide input for the delegations in the discussion of the different points of the Agreement General which are pending.
Its mandate was to address the following three topics: the origins and multiple causes of the conflict; the main factors and conditions that have facilitated or contributed to the persistence of the conflict; and the most notorious effects and impacts of the conflict on the population.
We thank the 12 experts and two rapporteurs for the professionalism and dedication with which they assumed this important task.
On February 11, within the context of the Gender sub commission we received six representatives of women’s organizations and LGBTI communities to hear their views on gender perspective in the agreements already reached, as well as regarding the points that haven’t been discussed yet. Their contributions are a fundamental input for the strengthening of the agreements.
We invite all citizens to continue sending their proposals through the web form on the website www.mesadeconversaciones.com.co or through the physical version in all mayor and governor offices of the country.
We thank the governments of Cuba and Norway, guarantor countries of the process, and Chile and Venezuela, accompanying countries, for their support and collaboration.
The 33rd round of talks will begin on February 23.
TECHNICAL SUB-COMMISSION FOR AGENDA ITEM 3: “END OF CONFLICT”
GUIDELINES AND MANDATE
The delegations of the National Government and the FARC-EP, in order to clarify the specific mission of the Technical Subcommission during the Peace Talks in Havana, created to address issues concerning item 3 of the Agenda of the General Agreement “End of Conflict”, in relation to the numeral 1. Bilateral and definitive cease of fire and hostilities, and numeral 2. Abandonment of arms, agreed:
The creation of the Technical Sub-commission is a decision of the Conversation Table, under the “General Agreement for the Termination of the conflict and the construction of a stable and lasting peace”, signed by the government and the FARC-EP on August 26, 2012. As a reference, it also has the joint statement of June 7, 2014 in which “we agreed to create a technical sub-commission composed of members of the delegations to start discussions on item 3 “End of Conflict” of the Agenda of the General Agreement”.
To this, we can add the agreement between the parties which states “This sub-commission will address the sub-points of bilateral and definitive cease of fire and hostilities and abandonment of weapons, and start reviewing and analyzing national and international positive experiences in this area. The Sub-Commission will consist of up to 10 members of each delegation, who will establish a work schedule” as it was written in the joint communique of August 5, 2014 and which was confirmed in the joint statement of August 22 of that same year, date on which the sub-commission was formally installed, specifying that it will begin its work on the mentioned sub-points “for which it will study, among others, national and international models”.
The Technical Sub-commission on bilateral ceasefire and abandonment of weapons intends to contribute to the analysis of experiences, production and discussion of initiatives and proposals which, regarding these matters, can serve as inputs to expedite and facilitate the discussions of the plenipotentiaries of the National Government and the FARC-EP, to allow making agreements leading to the end of the conflict. Agreements on these sub-points will be built at the Conversation Table.
- Establishment and operation:
The Sub-commission will consist of up to 10 members of each delegation, of whom at least one shall be a plenipotentiary, and will meet within the agreed time schedule and days agreed by the two teams. During these sessions, the experiences, initiatives and proposals suggested by each of the teams will be analyzed, or they will listen to the experts proposed by the parties in the Work Plan of the Technical Sub-commission. In this regard, the Sub-commission will present reports regularly with conclusions and proposals to the Conversation Table so that it can evaluate the work of the Sub-commission.
The other plenipotentiaries of the two delegations may attend meetings of the commission at any time.
The guarantor countries will attend the meetings of the Technical Sub-commission.
The Sub-commission may invite recognized experts in the field in order to identify lessons learned from other experiences and practices. Experts will be chosen by the delegations, based on a list submitted by the guarantor countries, or consensually.
The work of the Sub-commission should not interfere with the dynamics of the talks.
The Technical Sub-commission will meet during the time that the Table deems necessary.
- Work Plan:
The activity of the Technical Sub-commission, with an agreed minimum Work Plan will focus on the following sub-topics, namely:
- Review and analysis of models and the best national and international experiences related to the topic of the bilateral and definitive cease of fire and hostilities.
- Review and analysis of models and the best national and international experiences related to the issue of abandonment of weapons.
- Integrality and simultaneity:
Since item 3, End of Conflict, states that this is a comprehensive and simultaneous process, which in addition to the ceasefire and the abandonment of weapons includes five more aspects of the same importance and significance, which make up a whole, the commitments of the Agenda oblige us to deal with them, not separately or in an isolated way, but together and at the same time. That implies a permanent interaction with the Table in the exchange of information and definitions regarding each one of the involved items:
– Guarantees for reincorporation of the FARC-EP to civilian life – economically, socially and politically, according to its interests.
– Review of the situation of prisoners, prosecuted or convicted, for belonging to or collaborating with the FARC-EP.
– The intensification of the fight to end criminal organizations and their supporting networks, including the fight against corruption and impunity.
– The review, reform and institutional adjustments needed to cope with the challenges of peace-building.
– Security guarantees.
– And the clarification of the phenomenon of paramilitary groups, among other phenomena.
The Conversation Table will create the necessary mechanisms to address these issues.
Gender subcommission receives representatives from womens’ organizations
On February 11, the Gender Sub-Commission of the FARC-EP and the National Government held the second of three meetings with representatives from women organizations in Colombia.
This time, five representatives of women organizations assisted to the meeting, as well as one representative of the LGBT community. They were received by the Negotiating Table, the Gender Subcommission, guarantor and accompanying countries, the United Nations and international experts.
Humberto de la Calle, head of the government delegation, and Pastor Alape, member of the Secretariat of the FARC-EP, welcomed the delegation.
Each representative had 15 minutes to make their suggestions and remarks, which are meant to serve as an input for the Gender Subcommission in order to introduce a gender perspective in the partial agreements. María Paulina Rivero, head of the sub commission for the government, and Victoria Sandino, head of the sub commission for the FARC-EP, read a document of their respective sub commissions to close the meeting.
Also read: We are Colombians, we are fighters, we are peace.
Afterwards, the Gender Subcommission had a closed meeting with the representatives which lasted until 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
The representatives held a press conference at 4:30 p.m., during which they read