Tags / Peace Process
In September 2016, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) held their 10th conference at a camp in the Yari Plains, in the fringes of the Amazon rainforest. At the conference, the rebel group unanimously ratified the contents of the peace agreement they had reached with the Colombian government after 4 years of negotiations. One thousand rebel soldiers attended the event, while they prepared to be demobilised. The peace deal marks a historic opportunity to put an end to 52 years of armed conflict, in which more than 200 thousand people have been killed, tens of thousands have disappeared and 7 million have been displaced from their homes.
A female Farc fighter says she grew up in a communist party stronghold in the department of Meta, and joined the Farc when she was 12 years old. âI donât even remember the outside world. But after everything weâve learned, and all the experience weâve gathered during all these years of fighting, hiding and living in the jungle, I am not afraid of facing a new beginningâ.
Farc members line up for a commander at the end of the afternoon, as they receive instructions on the Conferenceâs proceedings for the next day. Every afternoon, in the hours following the conference sessions, voices could be heard coming from behind trees and inside the tents, as rebels discussed and shared notes taken during the meetings, and about the peace negotiations with the Colombian government.
After being close to 20 thousand 12 years ago, it is estimated that the Farc currently has approximately 7 thousand members. It is estimated that abut 30 per cent of the 7000 Farc soldiers, are women. Many rebels have demobilised, and most of the current members are willing to do it once the peace deal is finalised and the conditions stated in it are guaranteed. Only the organizationâs 1st front has refused to demobilise, arguing that the peace agreement does not include a change in the countryâs economic model.
Members of Farc dance during one of the concerts that closed every evening the conference sessions. Relatives of guerrilla fighters saw the conference as an opportunity to find their long gone family members, and travelled to the Yari plains with an old ID photograph and their civilian name written in a piece of paper. The end of these cultural events was often the setting for emotional scenes of rebels holding their mothers, sisters, brothers, for the first time in years.
Farc Commander in Chief Rodrigo LondoÃ±o, âTimochenkoâ, attends a cultural event during the Farcâs last conference in the Yari Plains. âIf anything has characterized us since our very birth, it isÂ precisely our strictly political nature, based on the broadest democracy, with political, military and cultural guidelines weaved by all of its membersâ, he said during the opening speech of the conference, addressing more than 1000 delegates and journalists.Â
Since the content of the peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Farc was announced in Havana in late August 2016, the atmosphere at the rebel camps is unusually relaxed, and Farc members are spending more time relaxing and discussing the details of the agreement than training and hiding from the army.
Couples of Farc members share a moment during the rebel conference. Farc members attend the opening ceremony of the groupâs 10th conference. Most Farc soldiers come from the countryâs rural areas, some of which have been seriously affected by the 5-decade long armed conflict. âNew social strategies must be put in place to develop the rural areasâ, says one of them, who explains that to finance the struggle the Farc has been charging a tax on cocaine production to the different actors involved in the drug trade, a multimillion-dollar business that has fuelled the conflict, and rampant corruption, for decades. âThe government must address this issue as a social problem, with adequate training programmes and subsidies; not criminalizing the farmers. And specially, with a strong emphasis on crop substitution for themâ.
A couple of rebels take a nap in their makeshift hut sorrounded by their military garment and equipment. Every afternoon, in the hours following the conference sessions, voices could be heard coming from behind trees and inside the tents, as rebels discussed and shared notes taken during the meetings, and about the peace negotiations with the Colombian government.
The sun sets over the Yari plains, where the Farc celebrated their 10th rebel conference in September 2016, ahead of the signing of the peace deal. During the demobilisation process, Farc members will concentrate in temporary transition zones monitored by the United Nations. âOur demobilization will not be the end of our struggleâ, says Martin, a Farc media officer. âBut we realise that the conditions of the country and of the conflict have changed, and that our struggle will be more effective from the political arenaâ.
Farc members take a break during the rebel conference. Miller, one of them, has been in the Farc for more than 20 years. He says, âWe are willing to put our weapons down, but we are doing it because we have won the right to do so. We were forced to engage in the armed struggle because the political space had been closed. Now the door has been opened to do what we have always fought for: legal political participation, without being killedâ.
A group of rebels have breakfast during before the conference procedings. One thousand rebel soldiers attended the event, while they prepared to be demobilised. The peace deal marks a historic opportunity to put an end to 52 years of armed conflict, in which more than 200 thousand people have been killed, tens of thousands have disappeared and 7 million have been displaced from their homes.
Farc members swim, do laundry and cut their hair in a river near the rebel camp during their free time in the afternoons after the conference sessions in the Yari plains. Faiber (right) emphasises that demobilisation implies for them an enormous personal challenge. âLife in the bush can be hard, but it will be harder to get used to a world that is so foreign to us: life as a civilianâ.
A thoughtful, honest and probing interview with a South African Jewish veteran of the IDF whose mother's family perished in the Holocaust and who served as a tank-driver in the West Bank in the 1970s but quickly came to oppose taking part in military operations in an occupied territory, as he puts it. In the video, he discusses the prospects for peace (one-state solution), the opportunities Israel has to become a leading player in the Middle East outside of the military sphere, and even what Israel could learn from South Africa in terms of reconciliation across racial and other lines.
Catholics in Juba march and pray for peace in South Sudan.
On the 9th of January, 2005 in Kenya, a comprehensive peace agreement to stop the longest war in Sudan was signed. After that, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan. Today South Sudan faces a new war. Catholics in Juba march and pray for peace in South Sudan. This march was attended by the ambassador of the United States to South Sudan, Ambassador Suzan Page.
A prayer held by the Catholic community of Juba, South Sudan for peace attended by the ambassador of the United States to South Sudan, Ambassador Suzan Page. Photo by Samir Bol.
Those who fought the war imposed silence. They could do so because they still have power. The political elite in Lebanon neither assumed their guilt in a conflict that pitted the country's communities nor held external actors accountable for their participation. Their objective has been to build a new country over the ruins of the old one in order to forget the war. The words justice, truth and reconciliation are not on the political agenda, but there are voices still crying courageous. "I can not reconcile with the criminal if I do not know the truth. Then I will decide whether to forgive or not", says Wadada Halwani, president of the Committee of Families of the Kidnapped and Missing persons in Lebanon.
The long way towards peace starts just after the signature of the peace agreements, when the complex and difficult process of building peace, memory, truth, reconciliation and justice for all the victims begins. The documentaries of the ‘After Peace' project seek to analyze and explain different paths taken by various countries who suffered an armed conflict in the last quarter of the 20th century. Researchers, activists for peace and reconciliation, victims, lawyers and educators expose what has been done and what has been ignored in their countries and talk about their experiences.