Colombian rebel group FARC, currently involved in peace talks with the government, said Sunday it would like to see a peace process similar to that of the IRA in Northern Ireland in the 1990s during which the Irish rebels did not surrender their weapons.
In interviews with newspaper El Pais and weekly Semana, FARC negotiator “Andres Paris” said the FARC, like the IRA, will lay down, but not surrender their weapons if an agreement on peace is reached.
According to Paris, the FARC is interested in studying “the process in Ireland because they established principles and, for example, never surrendered their weapons.”
Colombia’s largest rebel group on several occasions said it would lay down, but not surrender its weapons as part of a peace agreement.
According to Paris, the FARC’s weapons “will go quiet when the will to fire them ends. And that is what will happen in Colombia once all situations are dealt with and we leave the [peace talks] table.”
“We are looking for a different way than that of arms, but different to other [Colombian illegal armed] forces who surrendered their weapons and ideology, who surrendered policies and principles, we don’t face a process based on the co-optation of the regime and the established rules and ideology of the current bi-party regime,” the commander told El Pais.
Members of the IRA did surrender weapons between 2001 and 2005, years after the “Good Friday Agreements” in which the IRA and Unionist forces agreed to cease fire, and years before the effective end of the peace process in 2007. The refusal to surrender arms by some dissident factions of the IRA led to several scandals as the weapons later were found to be used in homicides and internal feuds. Additionally, the dissident paramilitary groups reportedly still have control over parts of Northern Ireland’s criminal underworld.