Betancourt calls for release of all FARC hostages

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hundreds of people marched in support of Betancourt during her time in captivity
Image: Presidency of Argentina.

Íngrid Betancourt, a former Senator in Colombia who was being held captive by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) until her rescue as part of Operation Jaque, has called for FARC to release all its hostages.

"We want freedom for everyone," said Betancourt while speaking to a crowd of thousands in Paris, France. This was followed by chants of "Libertad", the Spanish word for freedom.

Thousands of people also marched through streets in Colombia after the broadcast of Betancourt's speech on Colombian television.

Betancourt was one of the 15 hostages rescued on July 2 by the Colombian army, who tricked FARC into handing over the hostages by pretending to be part of a non-governmental organization. She was kidnapped in February 2002 while campaigning for President of Colombia.

Despite the release of fifteen prisoners in Operation Jaque, FARC are still holding over seven hundred people in captivity.

Betancourt also called for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, abducted by Palestinian gunmen on 25 June 2006 and held hostage by Hamas since. Shalit holds a French citizenship and has been denied rights to Red Cross (ICRC) visitation.