Colombia bishop: guerillas should pay attention to massive protests


Bogotá, Jul 23, 2008 / 03:13 pm (CNA).- Bishop Fabian Marulanda, secretary general of the Bishops' Conference of Colombia, has called on the rebel group FARC to free all of its hostages because of the "universal clamor expressed in the massive protests" that took place last Sunday in Colombia and other parts of the world.

This past weekend millions of colombians and hundreds of thousands of people in other Latin American cities held protests calling for the release of all those who have been kidnapped. Bishop Marulanda commented on the protests, saying, "I can't understand how some of the guerrilla commanders don't have the eyes to see or the ears to hear this universal clamor."

During an interview on Union Radio, the bishop said the Church saw the protests "as something truly extraordinary, a shot of faith and hope for the Colombian people, because not only were they an expression of rejection of kidnapping and of the demand for the release of all the hostages, but also we clearly felt the support of so many countries where similar rallies were held."

Bishop Marulanda added that kidnapping is of no use politically or militarily for the rebel groups and that "today there is a total rejection of this practice, and there is a demand and a cry that all the hostages in Colombia and the world be released."

He said the protests last Sunday were the best argument that could be made to "a group that is on the fringes of the law to think things over, because the path (of kidnapping) will have no backing or support."

The bishop also criticized negotiations launched by some countries that do not have as a priority the release of all the hostages but instead focus on the release of a certain group. The Church believes in "asking for the release of all hostages without distinction," he said.