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Rebels seek forgiveness before referendum on peace deal


Colombia

Rebels seek forgiveness before referendum on peace deal

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In the week before Colombia holds a referendum on whether to accept a peace deal to end over fifty years of civil war, commanders of the main rebel group, the FARC, have been asking their victims to forgive them.

FARC Commanders Ivan Marquez and Pastor Alpe visited the northwestern town of Apartado where in 1994 their fighters massacred 35 people during a street party.

“I humbly apologise for all the pain that we may have caused throughout the course of this war. All of us have committed errors in our lives, some with graver consequences than others. We do not lose anything by recognising that,” Marquez told his victims at a ceremony in one of the town’s schools.

Many of the victims at the ceremony accepted the apology but said the FARC must now pay reparations and tell the full truth about the massacre.

In an effort to turn a page on the past, they’re also proposing that the street where the killings took placed be renamed “Hope.”

The FARC are believed to have attacked the town after many demobilised fighters from a rival rebel group had established a political presence there.

Polls show Sunday’s referendum on the peace deal will pass by a wide margin – however turnout is expected to be low.

It’s a strong indication of how many Colombians still distrust the rebels, who will be spared jail time if they confess their crimes.

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