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Tanja Nijmeijer

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Alexandra Nariño (Tanja Nijmeijer) is an international combatant from The Netherlands and member of the Peace Delegation of the FARC-EP
Wednesday, 06 August 2014 00:00

Deaf, blind and mute

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In February 2012, in a guerrilla camp in the South of Colombia, we heard on the news that the FARC terrorists had sewed the mouth of a poor farmer with wire, in the South-West, just because he didn't want to take a "burro bomba", a donkey with explosives on his back, to the nearest army outpost (1).


The 42-old farmer was interviewed by the two most important private television channels in Colombia, Caracol and RCN. After that, 99% of the Colombian population was convinced of the fact that the FARC had not only attacked the population, not only committed atrocious human rights violations, but also that the guerrilla fighters exhibit psychopathic traits, because who on earth would send a donkey on a suicide mission or sew somebody's mouth with wire?

One month later, a handful of independent media hesistantly started to report on the protests of the local people against the army. They said the army had committed the crime in name of the FARC-EP (2).
A shrewd guerrilla fighter from the area made a video of the protests and sent it to my unit. In the video, it becomes clear that the truth is not always easy to discover in Colombia, "the eldest democracy of Latin-America" - to say the least -. And when it is discovered, in nine out of ten cases, these truths aren't covered by mainstream media and thus remain unknown for most of the world population.

The fact that the FARC-EP has caused suffering in the framework of this conflict shouldn't be changed into a pretext to not allow us to discuss these kind of issues

When does a truth become a truth? When it is said by the powerful? When it is proven by Human Rights Watch? When it is repeated a thousand times by the most influential media corporations?

The fact that the FARC-EP has caused suffering in the framework of this conflict (which has repeatedly been acknowledged by our spokesmen (3)), shouldn't be changed into a pretext to not allow us to discuss these kind of issues. Mainstream media in Colombia have done quite a job in discrediting the insurgency, in positioning anti-left frames in society, in withholding information from the people and even in deliberately disinforming them about a wide range of subjects; from the National Agrarian Strike, to a speech held by ex senator Piedad C?rdoba.

How is it possible that while the majority of cases of victimization have been caused by the state and its paramilitaries (4), mainstream media insist almost exclusively on FARC victims, to such an extent that public opinion starts to believe that the only problem that exists in Colombia is the guerrilla movement?

If I were a Colombian civilian citizen, living in, let's say, Bogotá, I would be really interested in knowing what the mothers of Soacha think about the intellectual author of the assassination of their beloved ones sitting in congress, for example. Why don't we hear them?

This isn't about impunity nor about us not wanting to face victims

Talking about false positives, I have the strong suspicion, when I read comments on social networks and on the internet in general, that a great number of people (even Colombians!) believe that the false positives scandal is about some fifty or hundred cases, instead of the 3925 assassinations registered as such, and the number keeps growing.

This isn't about impunity nor about us not wanting to face victims. It is about the fact that the media could play an essential role in the reconciliation of the Colombian people. In my viewpoint, they should help spread the truth about the conflict, giving a voice to its victims; to all its victims. That is to say, the information spread by the media should be proportional. But it isn't. Instead, they fuel hatred against the guerrillas, as if that in some way helped to reach peace. If we take a closer look at the owners of the mainstream media, this shouldn't surprise us: the two most important economic groups (Santo Domingo and Ardila Lule) possess an 80% of the media in Colombia.

What will these people say when the whole truth about the conflict comes out? Wir haben es nicht gewubt?

(1) http://colombiareports.co/farc-torture-colombian-farmer-over-donkey-bomb/#

(2) http://remapvalle.blogspot.com/2012/03/campesinos-en-el-cauca-protestan-por.html

(3) Recently, Pablo Catatumbo said in an interview: "We are willing to talk to all these people, to clarify what happened and to express our regret for any suffering we may have caused. We are sorry, we share their pain and we know we can count on them for the reconstruction of the country"http://farc-epeace.org/index.php/point-of-view/item/466-reconciliation-cannot-be-achieved-by-decree.html

(4) The websites http://www.nocheyniebla.org/node/78 and http://www.verdadabierta.com/ have an extense databank of human rights violations committed in the context of the conflict in Colombia. 

Last modified on Tuesday, 15 March 2016 18:55