Betancourt calls for release of all FARC hostages

July 21st, 2008 - 11:01 am ICT by IANS  


Paris, July 21 (IANS) Former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, who was rescued from the captivity of the country’s leftist guerrillas early this month, has called for the freedom of all being held by the rebels during a concert here, EFE reported Monday. “No more kidnappings please,” Betancourt called on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels while addressing a concert organised in Paris Sunday. She was flanked by singers Juanes and Miguel Bose.

Betancourt, who holds dual French-Colombian citizenship, was rescued by Colombian troops along with 14 others during a bloodless intelligence operation early this month.

“Look at this Colombia. Look at the extended hand of President (Alvaro) Uribe. Understand that this is not the time to spill more blood,” said Betancourt in her message, in Spanish, to FARC chief Alfonso Cano.

She made her remarks from the stage set up in the Trocadero, in front of the Eiffel Tower, before thousands of people, most of them Colombians and other Latin Americans.

The event opened with the singing of the Colombian national anthem led by Juanes, and joined in on by his countrymen in the audience. Sunday was Colombia’s independence day.

Betancourt emphasised that Sunday “is a day of brotherhood, of the unity of all Colombians,” and she added that “love is the only thing motivating us” at this gatherings convened to call for the release of the FARC’s hostages.

“We give thanks to God, we give thanks to the Virgin,” said the former captive, who wore a white slacks and a pale pink blouse and was accompanied by several of her relatives on the stage, which was dominated by an enormous Colombian flag and a sign bearing the slogan “Freedom and Peace”.

She recalled that there are still some 3,000 people being held hostage in Colombia and insisted that “war has to end in Colombia and in the entire world”.

Bose, to whom Uribe recently granted Colombian citizenship, said that he only had one wish: “to invite the FARC to dialogue, to lay down its weapons and release all the hostages”.

The concert began with Juanes’s performance of the national anthem, with some of the crowd shouting “Uribe, Uribe” when Betancourt, in her remarks, which were rebroadcast in Colombia, called on the guerrilla chief to take Uribe’s “extended hand”.

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