RT.com/TodayColombia – Colombian rebel militants FARC seek dialogue and peace with the country’s government, FARC negotiator Tanja Nijmeijer told RT in an exclusive interview. But despite renewed peace talks, government forces killed at least 20 rebels in a recent attack.
Dutch militant Tanja Nijmeijer – who left the Netherlands 10 years ago to join the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and fight for what she calls social justice – spoke with RT, saying that the rebel organization wants to end the country’s 50-year conflict.
“We as an armed organization have always wanted a dialogue, we’ve always wanted peace, we have always asked for peace,” she said.
“We have not taken the arms because we wanted so. We have taken the arms because the Colombian State and the United States imperialism have obliged us to do so,” Nijmeijer said.
Talks between the Colombian government and FARC over fragile peace negotiations are set to resume in Havana, Cuba, on December 7.
At least 20 left-wing rebels were killed in Colombia on Sunday after airstrikes against their camp near the Ecuadorian border, the army said. The attack came after FARC announced a ceasefire until January 1, 2013, for the negotiations.
“People who are in Colombia want to fight for ideas different from neoliberal are killed,” Nijmeijer told RT. “So how is it possible to participate in politics if people who have other ideas are killed. And that’s the reason of arm struggle in Colombia. That’s the reason why we are still fighting.”
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has set a deadline of November 2013 for an agreement to be reached in the peace talks with FARC. “This has to be a process of months, rather than years. In other words, this should not last any longer than November next year at the latest,” Santos said.
The president’s statement followed an acknowledgement by FARC that it was holding “prisoners of war” – reportedly soldiers or police captured during combat. FARC stated that the prisoners would be freed in exchange for the release of rebels held by the government.
The Colombian government currently detains around 700 rebel prisoners, according to Sandra Ramirez, one of FARC’s representatives.
The US has been criticized for its role in helping the Colombian government kill members of FARC; Washington’s military assistance to Columbia has been directed primarily towards killing FARC militants.
In nearly a half-century of conflict in Columbia, an estimated 600,000 people have died and another 15,000 gone missing. Some 4 million people have also been internally displaced.