Dutch Farc rebel addresses news conference

The Dutch Farc guerrilla Tanja Nijmeijer has taken part in a news conference in Cuba on behalf of the Colombian rebel group.


Nijmeijer, who joined Farc 10 years ago and is the subject of two arrest warrants for terrorism, was part of the news conference held by Farc to outline their position in pending peace talks with the Colombian government to end the 50-year conflict.
During the news conference, Nijmeijer said that peace for the rebel group is ‘food, a roof over your head, education, the right to land and family, freedom with social justice’.
‘We are ready to do whatever it takes to reach this,’ Nijmeijer told reporters in fluent Spanish.
Charm offensive
There has been much criticism of the involvement of Nijmeijer in the peace talks by experts who say she is being used as part of a charm offensive.
Dutch aid organisation Pax Christi said on Tuesday the interests of victims of the guerrilla war risk being forgotten because of the media interest in the Dutch woman, who is called Alexandra by the rebels.
And the Telegraaf said on Thursday the press conference had been carefully orchestrated. Access to Nijmeijer, who is staying in a heavily-guarded house, is also restricted, the paper said.
Last month, Leiden university professor Beatrice de Graaf told website nu.nl Nijmeijer is one of the most dangerous women in the world. The Netherlands has a far too romantic image of Nijmeijer because she is pretty and has ideals, De Graaf said.
In 2010 the US issued arrest warrants for Nijmeijer and 17 other Farc members in connection with the deaths and kidnapping of Americans and a Colombian.
Diary
Nijmeijer, who graduated in Spanish from Groningen University in 2002, hit the headlines in 2007 when her diaries were found after government troops attacked a rebel camp. In the diaries, she was very critical of her life with the Farc movement.
In 2010, she was thought to have been killed in a government raid, but that later turned out not to be the case.
In 2011, she gave a television interview explaining her full commitment to the cause, which was broadcast by the Nos.


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