A special committee from the Colombian government arrived in Havana, Cuba on Sunday to outline discussions concerning victims of Colombia’s armed conflict and how they will be represented, Colombian media reported on Monday.
The objective of the Victim’s Forum, organized by the United Nations and Colombia’s National University, is to develop protocol that will structure the ongoing peace talks, according to Colombia’s El Espectador newspaper.
The special committee in Cuba is headed by Colombia’s High Commissioner for Peace, Sergio Jaramillo, and will discuss which victims should be represented and how.
Last week, Colombian military victims of FARC war crimes requested to be represented in the ongoing peace talks. The inclusion of military as FARC victims has been a thorny issue, as Colombia’s National Army is also of the armed conflict’s principle victimizers.
The forum in Cali had to be suspended on Sunday as several groups of victims heatedly argued about their rights to be included in the peace talks.
Also in Cali, protests broke out when a man claiming to be a victim of the FARC was allegedly identified as the president of a Neo-Nazi chapter called the “Tercera Fuerza” (Third Force), according to El Espectador.
After the debate about military inclusion began, the FARC argued that if the military was going to be represented as victims, so should FARC guerrillas.
“While reiterating its decision to always listen to victims, without any restriction or discrimination (…) if the government delegation in the process of peace intends to include members of the security forces and the apparatus of State repression (…) on the Havana stage, it is just and balanced that members of the insurgency (…) must also be heard,” stated the FARC in an open letter on their website.
The dissent among victims, recognized or not, prompted Colombia’s Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo to ask victims “not to fall into the temptation of division,” according to El Espectador.
The first new round of peace talks concerning victims called “Victims and Truth” is set to begin August 11 in Cuba.
Peace talks between the FARC and the Colombian government have been ongoing since November 2012. So far, both parties have come to agreements on the topics of agrarian land reform, political participation, and illicit drugs.