FARC Leader in Norway to Attend to Peace Forum

Photo: Stine Merethe Eid | Dr Funmi Olonisakin, H.E. Mr Børge Brende and H.E. Mr Kofi Annan at the Oslo Forum in 2014

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Colombian guerrilla movement FARC leader Rodrigo «Timochenko» Londoño arrives to Oslo to attend to Norwegian Foreign Ministry’s organziation, Oslo Forum. FARC leader is still on the United States and the EU’s terrorist lists and the visit is very controversial in his native country, Colombia.

According to NRK’s report, Oslo Forum arranged by Foreign Mniistry of Norway hosts this year 100 researchers, peacekeepers and other stakeholders to discuss peace processes and conflict resolution in different part of the world.

One of the most controversial guests of the forum is FARC leader Rodrigo “Timochenko” Londoño. Last year he signed a peace agreement with the government in Colombia after more than 50 years of war.

“Timochenko” who has been in the left-wing guerilla for over 30 years, shared on Twitter an interview photo with Norwegian state TV NRK:

Many in Colombia still look at him as a terrorist, but the Colombian government has given him permission to travel to Oslo, writes NRK.

– It has caused turmoil in Colombia. Those who oppose the peace process are opposed to his participation. It is very courageous of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get the FARC leader here, “said Diego Marin Rios, a Colombian refugee in Norway to NRK.
The Oslo visit has created a storm in social media in Colombia.

Opposition politician Óscar Iván Zuluaga calls the visit a shame. He resigned as presidential candidate in 2014 but was beaten by Juan Manuel Santos who last year received the peace prize for his efforts to reach a peace agreement with the Farc gerilja.

About FARC

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army ( FARC–EP or FARC) is a guerrilla movement involved in the continuing Colombian armed conflict since 1964. The FARC, which formed during the Cold War period as a Marxist–Leninist peasant force, allegedly promoting a political line of agrarianism and anti-imperialism. The operations of the FARC were funded by kidnap and ransom; illegal mining; extortion or taxation of various forms of economic activity; and the taxation, production, and distribution of drugs.

FARC was accused of committing violations of human rights by numerous groups, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the United Nations as well as by the Colombian, U.S. and European Union governments.

A February 2005 report from the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights mentioned that, during 2004, “FARC-EP continued to commit grave breaches of rights such as murders of protected persons, torture and hostage-taking, which affected many civilians, including men, women, returnees, boys and girls, and ethnic groups.

On the terror list of the USA

The September 11 terrorist attack on the United States has sparked renewed debate in Colombia over whether the country’s largest guerrilla group is a terrorist organization or a leftist insurgency. The Colombian government is reluctant to label the rebel group as terrorists while the U.S. government has no such qualms. The Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.

In 2012, the FARC made 239 attacks on the energy infrastructure. However, the FARC have shown signs of fatigue. As of 2014, the FARC are not seeking to engage in outright combat with the army, instead concentrating on small-scale ambushes against isolated army units. Meanwhile, from 2008 to 2017, the FARC opted to attack police patrols with home-made mortars, sniper rifles, and explosives, as they were not considered strong enough to engage police units directly. This followed the trend of the 1990s during the strengthening of Colombian government forces.

Peace talks and ceasefire

In June 2016, the FARC signed a ceasefire accord with the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos in Havana. This accord was seen as a historic step to ending the war that has gone on for fifty years.

On August 25, 2016, the Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, announced that four years of negotiation had secured a peace deal with FARC and that a national referendum would take place on 2 October. The referendum failed with 50.24% voting against. The Colombian government and the FARC on November 24 signed a revised peace deal, which the Colombian Congress approved on November 30.

On February 18, 2017, FARC rebels moved into transition zones and began the process of disarming.

Gerilja’s weapons are to be delivered to the camps where they are sealed in containers, and Farc leader “Timochenko” writes on Twitter that they have now handed about 30 percent of the weapons.

The Farc soldiers will be in the camps until they can be relegated to civilian life and several will also be sentenced for crimes committed during the war in camps.

About Oslo Forum

The Oslo Forum convenes senior conflict mediators, high level decision makers and key peace process actors in a series of informal and discreet retreats to share their experiences, identify challenges and reflect on mediation practice.

The Oslo Forum is widely regarded as the leading international network of armed conflict mediation practitioners. Co-hosted by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD), the Oslo Forum features an annual global event in Oslo and is complemented by regional retreats in Africa and Asia. Participation is by invitation-only.

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