Members of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) imprisoned across the country have started a hunger strike to demand that injured jailed comrades be released and given medical treatment.
According to the guerrillas, several of their comrades have been suffering health problems or were injured in the middle of conflict upon being detained and have not been able to recover due to the lack of medical attention.
“Basically, we have comrades who are seriously ill, disabled and wounded in war in which the past two years there has been no concrete action by the state, nor the Ministry of Justice, or (the National Penitentiary and Prison Institute) to improve their situation,” one inmate at La Picota prison told RCN Radio.
The prisoners listed several examples of injured colleagues who have still not received medical attention, including: one man with a fractured femur, another with an open wound in his leg as a result of being detained in combat, one man who has lost 90 percent of his vision and has no access to eye care, and others who are suffering past ailments such as cancer with no access to medications.
At least 300 guerrillas in 13 prisons across the country will participate in the hunger strike. Reports of the hunger strike first surfaced Tuesday, while protesters say it will continue indefinitely until the demands are met.
However, according to prisoner testimony at La Picota prison in Bogota, there are some 1,500 FARC members currently imprisoned across the country, so the number of strikers may grow.
“In three years of talks the insurgency has shown various proofs of peace through different gestures and there would be nothing better than the government also showing a humanitarian act to these boys,” said Rene Nariño, a prisoner at La Picota.
Nariño is referring to the three years in which the government of Colombia and the FARC have been undergoing peace negotiations in Havana, Cuba, in an attempt to bring an end to the over 50 years of armed conflict in the country.
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The strikers are asking that the government show will for peace and allow the release of the insurgents, adding that their release would not be a threat to the state since they are not fit to join combat.