Colombia’s public advocate has asked for clarity from the FARC and the Colombian armed forces over the capture of a general by the rebel group, urging a humanitarian accord and the continuation of the peace process.
Jorge Armando Otalora, the country’s Ombudsman, insisted in a press release published Tuesday on “the urgency of reaching a humanitarian accord to reduce violence and generate confidence in the negotiations.”
“Whatever the reason for denying the liberty of General Alzate, the FARC have an obligation under international humanitarian law to respect his life and personal integrity…[I]t is necessary that the FARC, through a mission formed by humanitarian groups, carry out the release of the kidnapped persons in Choco,” the statement says.
The Ombudsman said that as soon as the three captured individuals are released that “it is necessary that the government and the FARC restart the peace dialogues in Havana as soon as possible,” and that once at the negotiating table to reach an accord that would “leave the civilian population and certain prescribed acts outside of the hostilities.”
The statement came on the same day that the FARC confirmed that the general was in their possession.
General Ruben Dario Alzate, commander of the Titan Army Task Force operating in the western coastal state of Choco, was taken prisoner by members of the FARC’s 34th front Sunday.
The general reportedly had entered a guerrilla-controlled jungle area while dressed as a civilian.
President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed the hostage-taking and immediately sent Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon to Choco to lead the investigation into how the rebels were able to take a general captive, something they had not been able to in the 50 years of the guerrilla group’s existence.
Santos has suspended the peace dialogues until the general is released.