VINDICATING THE VICTIMS OF THE CONFLICT IS TO PROGRESS TOWARDS A FINAL AGREEMENT
inShare Havana, Cuba, site of the peace talks, September 7, 2014
After the parties at the Conversation Table agreed on the Declaration of Principles on victims; after careful analyses and discussions that put into practice major initiatives such as the Historical Commission of the Conflict and its Victims; after carrying out two successful visits of delegations of victims of the conflict, scheduled for them to come to Havana and present their experiences, concerns and proposals, the FARC-EP expresses its satisfaction about the favorable dynamics for the achievement of peace, taken by the peace process. We feel satisfied that to date, we, the insurgency, have presented the general outline of our minimum proposals regarding comprehensive Victims’ rights for peace and national reconciliation. They are the synthesis of the initiatives presented by the communities and their social and political organizations, during the forums that were held in Colombia to address item 5 of the Agenda.
While in this round, we installed, as a transcendental step, the gender subcommittee, which has certainly expanded the arc of participation and democratization of these peace talks, we have also integrated the whole of the mentioned inputs, to finally present this week, closing the 28th round of conversations, our conceptual proposal framed in the Declaration of Principles, which we titled “Toward a New Colombia without victims” which is a precise guide, with citizen participation, towards the construction of a comprehensive agreement to provide alternative solutions to the sensitive issue of the victims of the conflict, recognized as important political subjects that should play a primary role in the development of the Final Agreement.
From the above arguments follows that the discussion of item 5 should be based on obtaining the victim’s right to truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition; these objectives should be achieved at the behest of what we think is the real legal framework for peace, which for the FARC-EP is none other than the General Agreement for the Termination of the conflict, signed in August 2012, accompanied by the reiteration that we have not come to Havana to exchange impunity. In our reflections, we have stressed the urgent need to address the clarification of paramilitarism, insisting that the state must express its commitment to make a definitive end to this heinous phenomenon, which is the main factor of victimization.And we have to point out again that it is urgent not to further postpone what is stated in item 3 of the General Agreement: “Under the provisions of Point 5 (Victims) of this agreement, the issue of paramilitarism, among others, will be clarified.” Now more than ever, we raise our voices for the government to open the doors of the peace talks to the participation of society as a whole, without the threat of prosecution. It should also provide mechanisms to allow the poorest sectors to participate. In particular, we say that human rights and victims organizations should be supported, accompanied, protected and defended against the enemies of peace, demanding effective measures of protection, so that citizen and victims’ participation in these peace talks won’t become a new stage of victimization and revictimization. I
f we say that victims are at the center of this process and that their voices must be heard, so that the words do not remain merely at the level of rhetoric, we believe it is time to adopt their claim, made at the forums and during the two hearings of delegations in Havana, to “urgently establish a bilateral cease of fire and hostilities, in order to prevent further victimizations of the Colombian population.” We express our recognition of the victims of the armed conflict as essential active, political subjects for the construction of a New Colombia, to which we aspire after the arrival of peace with social justice, democracy and sovereignty. Victims shouldn’t only be seen as a passive subject of Colombian reality, as mere recipients of social assistance in the best case, people who have to be pitied. No. They should also be protagonists of the constitutional process that has already begun and that should lead to the convening of a Great Assembly that will give concrete body to the peace treaty the majorities are aspiring, and which matches the spirit of reconciliation of millions of Colombians, affected by the civil war that should be stopped. Finally, we reiterate our call upon all Colombians, even upon the enemies of the Havana peace process, to prioritize common interest and decisively support the search for peace through a political solution.
The government should understand, within this context, that its words have to be consistent with its deeds, and in this sense the attention to victims cannot not continue being mediocre. It should start right now, with the victims’ participation, with the development of a Comprehensive Plan that ensures their full assistance in all the departments of the State with sufficient quality, implementing the Special Compensation Fund, which must operate for at least 10 years and which should be provided with enough budget.
PEACE DELEGATION of the FARC-EP INDIGENOUS 15-YEAR-OLD GIRL RECRUITED BY THE ARMY
Yesterday, September 16, 2014, hot news was published in all Colombian mainstream media: The FARC-EP handed over a 15-year-old indigenous girl to the Ombudsman of Cauca (West of Colombia). The International Committee of the Red Cross was also present. The handing-over of the girl was a “humanitarian gesture of the FARC-EP in the midst of the peace dialogues now going on in Havana”. The girl had been recruited by the FARC, according to some media, although others said she had been kidnapped. The Ombudsman strongly rejected “linking minors to the conflict through instrumentalization or forced recruitment”. But no one told the complete truth. Until an enlightening video was published by a local TV station, Pazífico NoticiasTV, yesterday evening.
The girl had been recruited by the Colombian Armed Forces two months before. She was trained by the”Apolo” special forces of the Army and was then infiltrated in the ranks of the FARC-EP, with the specific mission to locate guerrilla camps, assassinate comandantes of the insurgency or desert with arms. According to the comandante who handed her over to the Red Cross, they discovered her when she was trying to escape, taking a rifle with her, which was part of her mission. According to the mother of the minor, who went to pick her up, her daughter was misused by the army, “the people of the army do not act according to what they say…
How are they able to filtrate a girl, an indigenous girl, in the ranks of the guerrilla?” Yes, we know the Colombian military. The question is: Will this video -or its content- be published or spread by mainstream media? Let’s wait and see…
TALKING ABOUT VICTIMS OF STATE TERRORISM…
By Henry Bonilla, Block “Comandante Jorge Briceño” (Eastern part of Colombia)
Last night, July 28, 2014, I was listening on the radio to a debate about something that is currently being discussed in Havana, Cuba, between the Colombian government and our revolutionary organization, FARC-EP, about the situation of the victims of the social and armed conflict in our country. The bias, lies and hypocrisy used by Santos and the bourgeois media in their smear campaign against us, holding us liable for the pain they have caused to our people, still manage to surprise me. Talking about victims, I would like to tell you a part of my life that is a painful part of history, not only in the history of my family, but also in the history of our humble Colombian people, to whom I belong and for whom I fight proudly and loyal to victory.
We were displaced from the area of El Castillo, Meta in 1999, as a result of threats by paramilitaries, leaving coffee farms, 30 cattle, mules, pigs, chickens, dogs and all personal property. Because of the paramilitary pressure, we left by foot, taking the road to a village called Puerto Esperanza, take a car from there and leave everything behind. «My father cried and told us: Children, we have just lost what we had built during 22 years with your beloved mother» My father tried to return to the farm to try to salvage some things. This was impossible, because the paramilitary attack was very close and many farmers advised him not to insist. It was dangerous, and several farmers had been captured and they were ordered to collect whatever they could from the abandoned farms and locate all that stuff in a place indicated by them. So my father decided to return to us. When he arrived, we started to feel despair, where should we go to? We didn’t have anything left. My father cried and told us: Children, we have just lost what we had built during 22 years with your beloved mother.
My father decided to leave for La Uribe, where a friend lent us a house to live in. He began to work sawing wood and building houses and corrals. We were 5 brothers, 3 men and two women. The men went out to work with my father and the women stayed with my mother. This way, we could save some money with which we bought a piece of land, which was what we all wanted: live more comfortably. Thus we began to build and grow sufficient for our needs and for maintaining the animals. «The paramilitaries responded: “But your children are all guerrillas, they don’t need those papers”»
On August 13, 2002, my mother, because of some problems we had, decided to borrow 300.000 pesos to travel to the area of El Castillo, Meta, to do two things. She had to go to different farms and try to sell or obtain an administrator, trying to save something. The other thing was to get us all identity cards, because the Army was located in La Uribe and demanded our identity documents. When my mother was in Medellín del Ariari, at her stepfather’s house, on August 19, two paramilitaries visited the house and asked her for the reason of her trip to Medellín. She replied: tomorrow I have to go to the Registry of El Castillo to get my children’s identity papers. The paramilitaries responded: “But your children are all guerrillas, they don’t need those papers.” She answered that that was not true, that they weren’t in the region anymore.
On August 20, my mother left Medellín del Ariari to travel to El Castillo and comply with the request made by the Registry. She had been traveling in the cab for 15 minutes when a motorcycle passed by and made my mother get out of the taxi. They tortured her; with a knife they detached pieces from her breasts; they took off her clothes, cut off a piece of her vagina and placed it in her mouth. Then they threw her away on the road. «My mother had been murdered by the paramilitaries after they had tortured her» They took the phone numbers they found and began to constantly call to La Uribe. My father responded one of the calls; they told him to urgently present himself in Medellin del Ariari, with two of his eldest children, and that we should take 30 million pesos if we wanted to see my mother again.
Communications were permanent and we were very desperate and worried. Anguished, we started to call many people, until my father found out the truth. My mother had been murdered by the paramilitaries after they had tortured her. He asked the ombudsman of El Castillo for help to obtain her body. We never got any response and we never received the remains of my mother. My father went to the farm, he gathered us together and with deep pain he explained us the sad situation the family had to face; we couldn’t bring her to La Uribe and bury her ourselves, something which still tears us apart today. We could never return and search for her body because the paramilitary threats against us were terrible.
Colombian jungle, September 12, 2014.