FARC rebels shower praise on Dutch member Tanja

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Colombia’s FARC rebels say Tanja Nijmeijer’s diary has been misused in order to blacken the guerrilla group’s good name. The claim is made on the FARC’s website, and includes praise for Ms Nijmeijer - a Dutch national - which seems to indicate she is still alive.

[see also: Tanja Nijmeijer close to FARC leadership]

The title of the three-page internet article is Alexandra, the Dutch woman fighting with the FARC. Tanja Nijmeijer took the nom de guerre ‘Alexandra’ when she joined the FARC eight years ago. The article is accompanied by a photo of a woman FARC fighter together with an indigenous girl. The woman doesn’t actually look like Ms Nijmeijer.

The article is written - by someone called Gabriel Angel - in a way that indicates the author knows her well: “It’s a pleasure to hear her sing with her soft voice, sometimes in Dutch or English and maybe in another language,” he writes, calling her both ‘Alexandra’ and sometimes ‘Holanda’.

“It goes without saying that she’s beautiful. She also speaks English, Spanish and Dutch. But, it’s surprising how modest she is! That must be because she comes from a family that worked on the land. She’s proud of that heritage.”

Most of the article is devoted to describing the 2007 raid by government forces on the rebel camp where Ms Nijmeijer had been living. The army soldiers came across her diary which contained lots of criticism of the FARC. The diary, written in Dutch, made worldwide news.

Gabriel Angel describes this as manipulation. “The negative passages were used to damage the reputation of the FARC throughout the world,” he complains. “Maybe the generals thought […] that we’d fall into their trap and get rid of this malicious interloper who had caused us so much harm,” he writes ironically, actually indicating that Ms Nijmeijer has not been killed. “Everything that’s been said and written about her is a lie.”

Gun at the ready

Ms Nijmeijer is praised for her heroism during the army raid, “carrying her heavy backpack and with her gun ready in her right hand”. The description goes on: “This is the real Holanda, not the weepy and miserable girl depicted in the international media.”

She is said to be conscious of her role as a revolutionary: “She knows how much Europe has harmed Latin America over the centuries. She is trying to pay back a little of that enormous historical debt by what she is doing and the example she is giving.”

The FARC article praising Nijmeijer the revolutionary comes as a book and a documentary on her are about to be released in the Netherlands. Both feature statements from senior Colombian military figures and ex-FARC members confirming that she is alive.

It had been thought possible that she had been punished and maybe even killed because of what she had written in the diary and the fact that this had been made public following the raid. With the internet article, the rebels now themselves appears to be stating that she is still alive. They may want to show how reasonable they are and how dedicated a fighter Holanda really is. Despite their attempts to make contact with the FARC, Tanja’s parents have had no news about their daughter since 2007.