Former hostage Ingrid Betancourt made an emotional appeal to EU
lawmakers Wednesday to work for the release of other captives, saying
nations must drop long-held taboos against talking with terror groups.
She said isolating such groups made no sense anymore and did little to address root causes of terrorism such as poverty.
said that seeking “dialogue was indispensable” to ending conflict.
“When I say we have to negotiate with terrorists, I say it’s the best
way to save lives.”
She broke down in tears several times during her address to the lawmakers, who gave her numerous standing ovations.
them (the hostages) rest assured that we will not stop, we will not
give up in silence and we will never, never stop taking action until
they are freed,” said Betancourt after trying to read out some 20 names
of hostages still being held by Colombia’s FARC guerrilla rebel
movement, which held her captive.
Betancourt, who was campaigning
for the Colombian presidency when she was abducted in 2002, was rescued
by the army in July along with 14 other hostages. Since her release,
she has spent most of her time abroad, either in Europe or the United
States. She has dual French-Colombian nationality.
She said radio
news reports from the European Parliament calling for her and others to
be released over the years while she was in captivity gave the hostages
“It’s possible they are listening to us now, that will remind them that they are still alive,” she said.
said she was eager to travel to Zimbabwe, Sudan’s Darfur region and
Somalia to talk and share experiences with victims of poverty and
“The human word … transcends ideologies,
religions and so on,” she said. “They can change the way a person looks
at things and change attitudes.”