Colombian Victims Meet With FARC in Havana

Saturday, for the first time, some victims of the decades of violence in Colombia met directly with FARC members at the Peace Talks in Havana.

The victims told the BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Havana that they were listened to by the negotiators with a great deal of respect.

I was glad to see the victims of the right-wing paramilitary groups were also included. Some in Colombia (mostly FARC victims it seems) didn't think it was appropriate but:

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay praised the move, calling it unprecedented and a potential model for other countries dealing with issues of justice, peace and reconciliation.


More people were victimized by the Government and the right-wing paramilitary groups than by FARC, and of the 12 victims selected for today, the split was 5 FARC victims and 7 Government/paramilitary victims.

While many within the Colombian media have called for a greater number of FARC victims to appear within the group, according to NGO Redepaz’s Director Luis Emil Sanabria, the number in the first group of victims is more than representative of a proportion of the country’s 6 million victims the FARC is responsible for.

“We know that in Colombia the majority of victims are from the actions of the paramilitaries, followed by guerrilla organizations and the state. In that sense, to us it seems that within this delegation five people represents the scale of victims of the FARC,” said Sanabria.

According to the U.N. estimates"

[P]aramilitaries have been responsible for more than 80 per cent of conflict-related killings and the majority of other grave human rights abuses.

Over the next several weeks, 60 victims will meet with FARC and negotiators in Havana. FARC was also pleased with the meeting. Here is their statement.

We declare our profound recognition and respect for all victims and we invite them to make common cause. We decided to continue and strengthen the effort so that all victims will be listened to, and so that society as a whole will commit to accompany us in the demands of our rights and the achievement of peace....We welcome the atmosphere of respect, attention and appreciation for our participation by the delegations of the national government and the FARC.

Some of our recent posts on the Peace Talks are here and here.

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    The only thing more powerful than violence... (none / 0) (#1)
    by Dadler on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 09:39:19 AM EST
    ...is the power of love and truth and courage.

    Ultimately, good can only overcome evil by being better than that evil, not by "going to the dark side," as Penis Cheney -- excuse me, I meant Dick Cheney -- famously quipped in the wake of 9/11.

    The impulse to vengeance is strong. But as rational creatures, we have the ability to be stronger, as these victims show us.