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Tuesday 2 September  
Tanja Nijmeijer
Edwin Koopman's picture
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Hilversum, Netherlands
Hilversum, Netherlands

Confirmed rebel Tanja Nijmeijer gets her own back

Published on : 4 November 2010 - 3:16pm | By Edwin Koopman (Screenshot: RNW)
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FARC facts

The FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) was founded in 1964 and is the oldest guerrilla movement in Latin America.

The FARC is often described as a Marxist organisation and its supporters profess revolutionary ideals, such as land reform and combating poverty. In practice, the FARC's current activities focus on cocaine dealing, kidnapping, extortion and violent attacks.

The FARC is on the blacklist of terrorist organisations compiled by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union.

The rebels have abducted thousands of people in the hope of exchanging them for jailed FARC fighters. One of their most prominent hostages was the French-Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, who was freed in 2008 after six years in captivity.

Dutch woman Tanja Nijmeijer joined the FARC voluntarily in 2002. Initially she worked as an interpreter and translator, but she later became a guerrilla fighter.

In recent years, the rebels' power has declined dramatically. The FARC has been dealt a number of blows by the Colombian Army, with the backing of the United States. Growing numbers of guerrillas are deserting: of the estimated 27,000 militants who belonged at one point, there are now only around 7,000 left.

Human rights organisations are asking the FARC to enter into a dialogue, but so far the rebels have shown no willingness to lay down their arms, halt the kidnappings or free their hostages.

Analysis from Radio Netherlands Worldwide's Latin America expert Edwin Koopman.

Three years ago, Tanja Nijmeijer – a Dutch girl turned FARC guerrilla fighter – lost her journal in the jungle. The Colombian army found and publicised it – and it didn’t look good; she was unhappy and criticised the rebel group, especially the privileges enjoyed by FARC commanders.

But now she – and the FARC – have got their own back with a widely-publicised video interview. This time Tanja was the picture of a committed rebel – the best advertisement the FARC could wish for. It signals her complete rehabilitation within the movement.
 
The footage published by RNW was shot by Colombian filmmaker Jorge Enrique Botero in August. In the video, Ms Nijmeijer looks like a committed rebel fighter, defending the revolution in perfect Colombian Spanish. She maintains she wasn’t abducted but was won over by the rebel cause. She warns that those trying to rescue her will be met with “AK47s, bombs and mortars” – words typical of the FARC’s tough talk.
 
Staged
The interview was obviously heavily produced, with Ms Nijmeijer posing in an immaculate uniform, a heavy assault rifle slung over her shoulder. Even the back and forth of the comrades in arms behind her seems carefully directed. Her words, nevertheless, sound convincing. Her grim warning is in sharp contrast to the almost moving admissions about her homesickness for the Netherlands, her dad and the Dutch countryside. However, the natural way she lets her sensitivity be seen just makes her protestations of fierce loyalty to the FARC more convincing. Nothing suggests she has been forced to make her statement.
 
The FARC, and maybe also Ms Nijmeijer herself, have used the interview to take their revenge for the unflattering image of the rebel organisation which surfaced three years ago. Then the Colombian army came across her diary and allowed the media to publish extracts which showed the FARC as a rotten outfit. The FARC severely punished Ms Nijmeijer for what she had committed to paper.
 
Severe punishment
The rebels couldn’t wish for a better advert than the latest image portrayed in the interview. It’s so perfect as to beg the question: why wasn’t it staged sooner? Over the last few years, the FARC have suffered major defeats at the hands of the Colombian army and could have done with the good publicity.
 
Still alive?
Three weeks after this footage was shot, the FARC camp where Ms Nijmeijer was based was destroyed in a Colombian army raid. Her commander Mono Jojoy and dozens of rebel fighters were killed in the bombardment, but both FARC and Colombian army sources say she was not among the dead. However, more recent footage of the Dutch rebel fighter is needed to be absolutely sure this is true.
 

Related articles:

Tanja Nijmeijer: I don't want to be rescued

Tanja Nijmeijer: why I joined the FARC

Dutch guerrilla's sister: “Leave the FARC!”

Tanja Nijmeier sings for her parents

Jorge Enrique Botero searched for - and found - Tanja Nijmeijer

Discussion

Anonymous 7 November 2010 - 4:47am

Don´t call Edwin Koopman an Latin American expert please... he is far from that!!!
It will take him some more investigation; observation and better analyses.

Anonymous 5 November 2010 - 9:24pm / Lalaland

She is not part of a revolution, but of a ROBOLUCION(they rob you blind until there will be nothing left). Ahi roban en puta!

Anonymous 5 November 2010 - 1:38pm / Holanda is with an H!

Yes Tanja is perhaps the only Dutch student currently with the FARC in the jungles of Colombia. Yet the number of university kids sporting t-shirts that idolize brutal killers such as Che, indicate and confirm that the Dutch education is failing in terms of providing a real understanding of history and current events.

How long before Tanja hugging her AK47 T-shirts start to pop up on Dutch Universities? What is next for Dutch kids? Joining groups such as Shining Path, ETA or the IRA?

There was failure in Tanja upbringing. And the likely culprits are those that were close to her and did not do their jobs.

Let me guess a teacher at The University of Groningen?

The University of Groningen should immediately issue a statement that regrets its failure in terms of educating this young woman.

Anonymous 4 November 2010 - 9:15pm

If Tanja Nijmeijer is an example of the type of graduates that The University of Groningen and other Dutch institutions of higher learning put out, then it's time for a complete over hold of the Dutch educational system. It's a total embarrassment.

Anonymous 4 November 2010 - 11:24pm / Olanda

To claim that the Dutch education system is a 'total embarrasment' based on the story of one Dutch student, called Tanja Nijmeijer, is hilarious. Considering that Nijmeijer is the only former Dutch student who lives and fights with the FARC, her particular case rather supports the opposite: that she is not a 'typical Dutch student'.

Anonymous 4 November 2010 - 11:23pm / Olanda

To claim that the Dutch education system is a 'total embarrasment' based on the story of one Dutch student, called Tanja Nijmeijer, is hilarious. Considering that Nijmeijer is the only former Dutch student who lives and fights with the FARC, her particular case rather supports the opposite: that she is not an example of 'the typical Dutch student'.

Anonymous 4 November 2010 - 4:55pm / centraal america

Botero is geen free lance journalist maar een FARC man en hij woont ook in Venezuela. Het wordt tijd dat RNW eens aan objectieve berichtgeving doet.
Hoe diep kan journalistiek zinken in nederland. Was er net weer een paar weken en erger me enorm aan de onzin die uitgekraamd wordt. Stop met het zenden van al die journalisten. Kost te veel van onze belastingcenten en het is niets dan onwaarheden. neem maar over van BBC-world of zo.

al-Quoi-duh 4 November 2010 - 5:52pm

Seems to me this anonymous comment is pointing in the same direction as I am thinking - RN what are you doing? Shame on you! What happened to "Iindependent thinking, independent voice"

al-Quoi-duh 4 November 2010 - 4:46pm

And more coverage of the Dutch girl in the jungle! Budget cutbacks have forced RN to start carrying advertising for foreign terrorist groups, that much is clear!

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