Peace process is NOT entering the final stretch
Iván Márquez, Jesús Santrich, Maritza Sánchez Peace Delegation FARC-EP
◊ Government is creating false expectations
◊ Abandonment of arms necessarily implies demilitarization of society and state
◊ FARC-EP ask for emergency meeting with government to re-establish bilaterality
◊ FARC-EP invite government Minister Juan Fernando Cristo to Havana to exchange views and explain the real content of the agreements
Havana, Cuba – Iván Márquez, spokesman of the Peace Delegation of the FARC-EP, stated that concepts like “transition”, “demobilization” and “surrender of arms” don’t exist in the General Agreement of Havana or in the ranks of the insurgency.
This was the loud and clear answer to the announcement by the government these days, of creating a ‘Strategic Command of Transition’, which would be in charge of the transition, of the enemy’s demobilization and of controlling the surrender of arms.
Márquez said that the FARC won’t ever accept a military hierarchy to resolve problems that are of a political nature, and that fundamental aspects like abandonment of arms also implies demilitarization of society and state.
With these announcements, the government is creating false expectations, when it should be realistic and explain to the people that
“in spite of the progress that has been made on different aspects, it will still take time to define what hasn’t been resolved yet, like for example institutional transformations“.
The insurgency also expressed its irritation about the government not taking into account the opinions of the counterpart at the Table. The state continues trying to impose its legality (the so-called legal framework) as instrument of transitional justice, while the FARC has said many times that this unilateral imposition is unacceptable.
“The only legal framework we accept is the General Agreement of Havana in which state and insurgency are equal parts. Remeber that item 3, numeral 5 on the End of Conflict, states that “the National Government will review and implement the necessary institutional reforms and adjustments to face the challenge of the construction of peace”.
The FARC-EP called for an emergency meeting with the government, to re-establish the bilaterality of the peace process and read the content of what has been agreed. At the same time, the guerrilla movement invites Juan Fernando Cristo, Government Minister, to come to Havana and discuss the different viewpoints that might exist, as well as explain the real content of the agreements made so far.
The peace talks in Havana have entered the 28th round of conversations, which at the same time is the 2nd round on the fifth item on the Agenda: victims. Since the start of the conversations, the FARC-EP on a number of occasions, has made clear that the peace process shouldn’t be deflected by third party’s wishful thinking or the interpretations of mainstream media.
“There is only one Agenda, in the context is the Agreement made on August 26, 2012. The rest is fantasy”.
Last modified on Tuesday, 02 September 2014 00:40
Part I: The double standards of the Western world according to PKK
PKK, the Workers Party of Kurdistán: many people know their name, few really know what their struggle is about. www.farc-epeace.org had the opportunity to speak with two representatives of the PKK’s Party of Women’s Liberation (PAJK), Zelal Dersim and Asia Dicle, about the situation in the Middle-East, Islamic State, the role of the United States, the peace process with the Turkish government and, last but not least, the PKK struggle for freedom.
Written by: Tanja Nijmeijer
PKK in a nutshell
Kurdistan is a country that doesn’t exist officially. It is a region divided between four countries, Irán, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. It lies in between Arabs, Persians and Turks. The Kurdish people are called “Arabs from Yemen” by the Arabs, “Turks from the mountains” by the Turkish people and for the Persian people, they are considered their “ethnic alter egos”!
However, the Kurdish people do exist.
Kurdistán covers an area of 450.000 km2; the more than 45 million Kurds who live on this territory have had their own language and culture for many centuries.
In the second half of the XXth century, the Kurdish people started to develop the idea of a national identity, and as a result of it, in 1978 the Workers Party of Kurdistan (PKK) was founded, whose main purpose was to obtain self-determination for the Kurdish people. In 1980, a military junta took over power in Turkey and put the members of PKK who were in the country, in jail. That is where armed resistance began in 1984.
In 1999 the PKK announced its first ceasefire. It lasted until June 1, 2004, when the PKK decided to renew hostilities again. From 2009 to 2011, there was a secret peace process with Abdullah Öcalan, PKK’s President, which, in spite of not being the first attempt to peace, was the most serious attempt. Öcalan published his “Road map to negotiations” in 2011, which was used during this peace process as a guide to the democratization of Turkey and a solution to the problem of the Kurdish people. Erdogan (now Turkey’s president, prime minister by then) said he agreed for 95% with the “Roadmap to negotiations“. However, no official response to it was given by the government, because of which Öcalan, in 2011, decided to abandon the negotiations.
By the end of 2012, Erdogan said his chief of intelligence services was carrying out secret talks with Öcalan again. After months of negotiating with the Turkish government, Öcalan sent a letter to the people which was read during the March of 2013 Newroz celebrations in Diyarbakir (Kurdistan). In his letter, Öcalan called for a ceasefire, which included withdrawal from Turkey. He also called for an end to armed struggle. The PKK, on April 25, 2013, announced that it would start to withdraw all its forces within Turkey to Northern Iraq. The second phase would include consitutional and legal changes towards the recognition of human rights of the Kurds which would start simultaneously with the withdrawal.
FARC-EPEACE: The two organizations, FARC-EP and PKK, are carrying out a peace process at this moment…
Asia Dicle: Yes. In 2012, there were negotiations between Öcalan and representatives for the Turkish government, which resulted in the retreat of PKK troops from Turkey. Something very particular about this peace process is that the representatives by the Turkish government are permanently changing.
Until the year 2000, the ones in charge of the peace process were always nationalist powers; that is why they used to sent representatives of the army, who never accepted that there was a political problem here. In 2002, the AKP (the Islamic Justice and Development Party) won the elections and so became in charge of the negotiations; that is when the secret intelligence services started talking to Öcalan. With the AKP, there was no ceasefire, they were looking for a solution weakening the PKK. Öcalan, in 2009, decided to leave the peace process, he said that they were not being efficient enough, that they were waisting his time.
In 2009, there were local elections and the Kurdish political party (DTP) won with an overwhelming majority. As a response, the Turkish state began a large-scale police operation, arresting thousands of politicians, trade unionists, jourmalists, students, women organizations, in one word, everybody was suspected of having links with PKK.
Right now, 2014, Öcalan is talking to the Turkish government again. At least, Öcalan can receive Kurdish politicians who are in Parliament, he can send messages to the parties, to the PKK, to us women; he can receive critics from us… For the first time, parliament is oficially talking about the visits to Öcalan. They are discussing the Constitution. All these things are positive. As there had been so much secrecy about these peace talks, Öcalan said people should be informed from now on, and they agreed: a group of Turkish artists and intellectuals has been organized, who have to tell and inform the Turkish people about the peace process. This is all very positive, but of course, at the same time they are supporting IS.
Click to see the photo gallery
FARC-EPEACE: What similarities and what differences do you see between our peace process and yours?
Zelal Dersim: In both cases, the state has tried to deny the conflict. The Turkish government, during the first peace process, said there wasn’t a Kurdish conflict, because they said we didn’t exist. If you don’t exist, you don’t need any rights, either. After 2008, they changed their rhetoric; they said that indeed there was a problem, but that the problem wasn’t constitutional. Now, at least, they are talking about constitutional changes, but leaving intact the first three articles of the Constitution. And guess what the first three articles state: they say that in Turkey live only Turks, that there is only one flag and that the state is only one state. This denies a priori the existence of the Kurdish people.
Asia: I think the demands of the two guerrilla movements are – in some way- pretty similar. We are asking for respect for the fundamental human rights of the people, not only the Kurdish, but also the Turkish people. We want to implement a democratizing process, for the people to live in a true democracy, which I believe you want for Colombia, too. We also want a Commission to investigate and punish war crimes. We asked them to free the politicians that had been captured since 2009 and at least that part they have accomplished in 2014. First, they were speaking about “pardoning” them, which was a real offense for them: what should they be pardoned for? Of course, there are still some 10.000 political prisoners left.
Zelal: We also want the military to leave Kurdistan and to dismantle their military posts and bases. Instead, they keep on building more and more! They keep on preparing for the war, building military posts and supporting ISIS, while they are discussing constitutional changes at the same time. They have a double strategy.
And what does the government ask from PKK?
Zelal: The only thing they are really interested in, is in our weapons and to have us under control of the Turkish army.
How do the Turkish media treat PKK?
Zelal: The media are all in hands of the Turkish establishment. The critical voices that exist, are facing a permanent repression. Independent journalists are being threatened. The media use the same words, the same ideas as the government, what the government says is law for them.
There is now a mixed party, of Kurds and Turks, and they have some newspapers that are trying to be less biased, but on Turkish territory you won’t find anything like that.
Asia: There has been a lot of demonization of the PKK forces in the media. For example, there have been many cases of paramilitaries who used to dress up like guerrilla fighters and attacked the civil population, just to show the country that PKK attacked civilians.
During many years, they called Öcalan a “baby killer”. Some paramilitaries killed a baby and said Öcalan had done that. Many years later, a paramilitary told on television that he was the killer. He literally said: “We entered the villages dressed up in guerrilla uniforms, we killed the babies and said it had been Öcalan”. Some of them told how they made the civilians eat their own feces, saying that it were the guerrilla fighters of PKK, calling them terrorists.
This is a type of disinformation which is almost impossible to fight against, if you don’t control the mass media and you don’t have effective means of informing people about the truth.
Cristian, just one among thousands
In 1990, his father and his uncle were traveling by motorbike from San Juan de Arama towards their house in the village of Costa Rica, when they were stopped by eight members of the National Police, who used to wear civilian clothes in these times. They robbed the money from Cristian’s father and uncle, which they had earned selling several loads of corn. Afterwards, they shot them with 12 and 10 shots respectively. The two policemen talked about their crime when they got drunk in a brothel, in which they spent the money they robbed. In this way the population, and afterwards also Cristian’s family, confirmed the authors and the motive for the murder.
Days later, Cristian’s family went to the police station in San Juan de Arama to make the corresponding report of facts; but the response of the commander of the Station was an angry and grotesque threat. In the words of Cristian, he said: “You should rather take your stuff and your four children and leave this place, because if we you continue hanging around in this area, we’ll kill you all”.
«Another loss that would go unpunished, since until today no prosecution has been carried out, no sentence has been made»
Because of that threat, and they had no doubt it would be fulfilled by these members of the public force, Cristian and his family were forced to move from the region; they left the farm and their belongings to protect their lives and they left for Villavicencio, capital of Meta. There, Cristian, who was the eldest of four brothers, and his mother had to face the difficult economic situation, while suffering the loss of their loved ones. Another loss that would go unpunished, since until today no prosecution has been carried out, no sentence has been made, and fearing further reprisals and threats, the family never tried to make the complaint for State crime at the hands of members of the National Police.
Eight years later, when Cristian was 20 years old, he joined the FARC-EP along with a cousin, which is the moment in which new violence and crimes against their families started.
«The families were threatened again and they were being told not to denounce anything, if they wanted their lives and their personal integrity to be respected»
In 2001, aunt Judith and Cristian’s niece were traveling in a bus that was going from Acacias to San Martin (Meta), when they stumbled upon a roadblock by the paramilitary group “Los Centauros”. The paramilitaries, with a list in their hands, took them off the bus, they harassed them and accused them of collaborating with the guerrillas. Afterwards, they were tortured, their breasts were cut off and they were shot to death. The bodies were found in the dustbin of Acacias, and when their family went to ask for the bodies in the morgue of the municipality, all kinds of obstacles were put in their way. Finally, they received the bodies, but only after being accused of being collaborators of the insurgency. The families were threatened again and they were being told not to denounce anything, if they wanted their lives and their personal integrity to be respected.
Recently, in 2013, when Cristian was already a guerrilla fighter of the FARC-EP, he was contacted by intelligence units of the Colombian Army, in order to induce him to murder and hand in dozens of his fellow fighters. The State, through dirty war, threatened with murdering the lives of their closest relatives. His mother and brothers, meanwhile, were also contacted to convince Cristian to commit a treacherous action against the organization: to introduce a microchip in the camp of the comandante of his military unit. Cristian did not yield to the strong pressure. In August of that year, Cristian spoke for the last time with his mom. By then, the Army was still pressuring his family by telephone. To date, nothing is known about the fate of his loved ones.
Colombian jungle, August 24, 2014.