Colombian rebel group FARC has urged the organizers of peace talks with the government to allow imprisoned guerrilla fighters to be a part of victims representation groups taking part in the negotiations.
So far, three groups of 12 victims have traveled to Cuba to testify before the government and rebel commissions. Among the victim representatives are victims of the FARC, the state and state-aligned paramilitary groups.
One of the victims that traveled to Cuba on Friday was General Luis Mendieta who was captured by FARC rebels in combat in 1998 and held hostage in the jungles of southern Colombia until he was rescued by the army in 2010.
The inclusion of Mendieta caused some controversy as the military is one of the principal victimizers in the 50-year-long conflict. The FARC additionally have refused to recognize Mendieta as victim, insisting he was held as a prisoner of war.
Following the general’s inclusion, FARC commander and negotiator “Jesus Santrich” said that the United Nations and the National University, the organizers of the victim representation chapter, should allow imprisoned guerrillas to take part in the talks too.
“There are hundreds, if not thousands, of fighters and political prisoners who have been tortured, disappeared outside of combat, detained or subjected to long penalties, inhumane, cruel and degrading treatment,” Santrich told press.
Mendieta would not go into the question whether imprisoned FARC guerrillas should be allowed to the peace talks.
“I think that is a decision made by the commissions,” the general said at a press conference.
The peace talks delegations will receive two more victim delegations as part of negotiations on what to do with the six million victims of the conflict that killed at least 220,000 Colombians.