Colombian Peace Deal Depends on Referendum – Facebook Unpublished FARC Page

nsnbc : The Colombian government’s chief negotiator Humberto de la Calle reiterated that the approval of a final peace deal between the government and the FARC-EP ultimately depends on the outcome of a referendum on the issue. Ironically, Facebook un-published the FARC peace delegation’s page just as the government and the FARC are about to finalize the peace agreement and the FARC needs to reach out to gain the people’s support for a “yes for peace” in the upcoming referendum.

colombia peace talks in cubaThe government and The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) agreed earlier that the people of Colombia would be given the opportunity to vote for or against a final peace accord. Speaking to the press on Monday, government chief negotiator de la Calle said that the peace process stops if the public rejects the final accord. De la Calle also noted that this would mean that “we have lost four years of our lives”.

The statement comes as the government and the FARC-EP are in the final stages of preparing the final peace accord that aims at ending 52 years of civil war in the country. Last month the two parties formalized a bilateral ceasefire that largely has been in effect since January already. The Colombian Constitutional Court is currently studying a bill that would regulate the referendum. Polls and opinions by experts suggest that a majority of Colombians, including traditionally conservatives, will vote for the peace agreement.

De la Calle’s statement that a “No” would mean an end to the peace process is by some understood as a signal that tells that there cannot be any bickering about the final agreement amongst parties, and an implied suggestion that the peace process will be lost if parties object too outspokenly against details of the agreement. The statement does, however, also aggravate the nervousness among the FARC-EP that has begun a disarmament process. Units of the FARC-EP’s southern front have shown reluctance to begin the process.

Objectively speaking a disarmed FARC-EP and people in traditionally FARC-EP controlled areas would be at extreme risk is the people vote no. After an eventual “No”, an entirely disarmed FARC-EP would not have the military capacity to protect itself from right-wing paramilitaries, protect people in traditionally FARC-EP controlled areas from neo-paramilitaries and criminal gangs, let alone from the Colombian military. Colombian and international rights groups repeatedly stressed that populations in areas where the FARC-EP disarms could be at extreme risk.

FARC_EP Facebook_ColombiaIronically, Facebook has shown its true face by un-publishing the FARC-EP’s Facebook page just as the final peace negotiations are drawing to a close and the FARC-EP depends more than ever on being able to convey its willingness to peace. The reason given for the Peace Delegation of the FARC-EP Facebook page in English being unpublished reads:

“It looks like content posted on your Page doesn’t follow the Facebook Terms and Community Standards”. And it goes on: “We remove content that celebrates or glorifies violence, or poses credible threats of physical harm to individuals”.

Facebook_backstabbing_NEOThe Peace Delegation of the FARC-EP has appealed the decision, explaining that no violent content was published on their page. The FARC-EP stressed that indeed, what this page has been promoting all along since its opening, has been peace. The contents published relate to the agreements reached during the talks with the Colombian government in Havana. Comments and opinion of FARC-EP members have also been published, all going in the direction of the need for Colombia to reach a just and lasting peace.

In a statement published on the FARC-EP’s website, the peace delegation asks: And why has Facebook unpublished the FARC-EP page right when talks are reaching their final stage and now more than ever expectations are high for a Final Peace Agreement to be signed soon? The Peace Delegation of the FARC-EP exclusively used its Facebook page to promote peace, the content of the agreements reached in Havana and to engage with the international community about issues concerning peace and post-conflict.

CH/L – nsnbc 12.07.2016

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