Colombian bishops call for united pressure on rebel group to release prisoners

.- The secretary general of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Bishop Fabian Marulanda, expressed his concern this week for the hostages being held by the Marxist rebel group FARC and proposed a common effort be made to pressure the militants into granting them release.

In statements on Colombian radio, the bishop said pressure should not only be put on the government of Alvaro Uribe, but also on the FARC, because the rebel group in the end has the sole power to release the hostages.  “I don’t know if the facilitating countries will take their work as seriously as those who are directly experiencing it, a joint agreement inside and outside the country to pressure the FARC would be an interesting development,” Bishop Marulanda stated.

He went on to warn that because the government is currently involved in two other peace processes, it cannot resolve the problem of the hostages, which becomes more serious by the day, on its own.  “I see the government concerned about the peace process with the paramilitary and with the National Liberation Army (ELN), as well as about its policies,” the bishop explained.

He also said he was concerned the issue would polarize the country, and therefore he asked that it not become the subject of political battles.

The FARC has proposed releasing the 59 hostages it is currently holding, including politicians, military personnel, and foreigners, in exchange for the release of 500 of its soldiers being held by the government.

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