Colombian NGOs urge ELN rebels to release hostages, begin peace talks

(Image credit: Parker Crooks)

Dozens of Colombia’s most prominent and leftist non-government organizations have urged rebel group ELN to release its hostages and formalize peace talks with the government.

So far, the ELN has refused to do so and continues to actively kidnap civilians for extortion purposes.

Their persistence in kidnapping forced President Juan Manuel Santos to suspend the pending peace talks. The president wants the ELN to ban kidnapping.

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However, according to the ELN, such concession would be part of the formal talks and hadn’t been set as a condition when agreeing to the talks.

The ELN’s refusal to end kidnapping and release its hostages spurred many dozens of individuals and some of Colombia’s most prominent NGOs to also urge for a hostage release.

“”If the ELN uses society as a reference in its negotiation, as it has said on numerous occasions,  it cannot continue to be deaf to the same [society] to put an complete end to this condemnable behaviour,” the activists and NGO’s said.

The release of ELN hostages, “would not just begin the negotiations to end the conflict, at the same time it would be the adequate demonstration of goodwill” to listen to citizens as the ELN has claimed to do.

The petition was signed by many dozens prominent activists and a similar number of NGOs, many of whom think tanks, victim organizations and leftist organizations like the Marcha Patriotica and the Patriotic Union.

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