JFC Takes Northern Ireland Cross Party Politicans to Meet FARC
Justice For Colombia News |
on: Sunday, 2 June 2013
POLITICIANS FROM NORTHERN IRELAND TRAVEL TO CUBA TO MEET THE FARC
Havana, 2nd June 2013
Justice for Colombia (JFC), the London-based human rights NGO has this weekend facilitated a cross-party group of politicians from Northern Ireland to meet with leaders of the Colombian FARC guerrilla group in Havana, Cuba.
The group, which includes Sinn Fein, DUP, SDLP and unionist MPs and MLAs, is the first international public delegation to meet with the FARC since the peace talks began between the guerrilla organisation and the Colombian Government in Havana in November 2012 and is expected to greatly raise the profile of the peace process. The meeting follows last week’s historic announcement that the parties have reached a partial agreement on land issues.
During the meetings with the FARC leaders, the group shared their direct experiences of negotiations from the Good Friday Agreement.In November 2012 JFC led a similar group of to Colombia where they met with President Juan Manuel Santos and his negotiating team. DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson MP said after the meeting "We came here to share our experiences with the FARC as we did with President Santos, in the hope that we can offer some hope and support for the peace process. It is important that all parties to the negotiations be treated as equal partners."
Sinn Fein MP, Conor Murphy, said, "It is vital that the international community get behind this peace process as they did with ours. We must do everything we can to support a lasting peace in Colombia." Colombia has been at war since the late 1940s. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and disappeared, and there are thousands of political prisoners. Around 5 million Colombians are internally displaced.
Peace talks have been tried periodically between the 1980s and 2002. Between 2,000 and 4,000 government troops are killed or wounded each year. Thousands of guerrillas and civilians are also killed. Peace talks began in Oslo in October 2012 and since November 2012 have been taking place in the Cuban capital.
Mariela Kohon (Director of JFC) said ‘The significance of this group is that it includes people from all sides of the conflict in Northern Ireland. The Colombian peace process deserves the same international attention given to the Good Friday Agreement negotiations, during which international actors spoke to all sides. This visit is an important step in raising the international profile of the Colombian peace process.’
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