Colombian rebel group FARC on Wednesday admitted to causing harm to the population during the 50 years of its war against the state and vowed to assume responsibility towards their victims.
The FARC had already admitted to be a victimizer in the conflict when agreeing to discuss conflict victims during peace talks with the government, but had yet to admit that rebel actions affected the civilian population.
“We explicitly recognize that our actions have affected civilians at different times and under different circumstances throughout the conflict,” rebel commander “Pablo Atrato” said at a press conference already subbed “historic” by Colombian media.
“We are aware that not always the results of our actions were what the FARC had foreseen or expected, and we assume the consequences because there can not be another way. The FARC will assume the responsibility that belongs with us,” the rebel negotiator added.
Atrato, who recently joined the peace delegation in Cuba, stated that “it is evident” that the FARC “actively participated” in violence and that the “adversary impact” of rebel actions “caused damage to the population that has been immersed in war.”
However, Atrato said, “people have not been the main target or the secondary target in offensive or defensive actions of our armed structures. The FARC-EP has never had a policy of systematic and deliberate violence against the population” said the guerrilla.
Atrato stressed that the FARC statutes explicitly forbid any abuse of the civilian population, and that whenever cases of violations of these internal rules were ignored or disobeyed, and intentionally yargeted civilians, the rebel leadershipimposed justice on the alleged perpetrators “in a proper and timely manner.”
Nevertheless, “we are liable for each and every act of war performed by our forces, as well as for their consequences,” the rebel negotiator said.
The FARC and the administration of Presideent Juan Manuel Santos have been engaged in peace talks since November 2012. In the two years of negotiating, the two warring parties have agreed on a rural reform, the future political participation of the rebels and drug trafficking.
Over the past few months, the government and guerrillas have been meeting with victim representatives to discuss how to deal with the at least 6 million victims of the conflict.
If and when the parties agree on how to take responsibility for the victimization carried out by both forces, the FARC and government will discuss a bilateral ceasefire and a transition from war to peace.