Twitter suspends accounts linked to Colombian FARC dissidents over violation of rules

Ivan Marquez of the political party of FARC is seen after a news conference in Bogota, Colombia.

Twitter has suspended accounts linked to FARC dissidents, shortly after Colombian police requested they be taken down for inciting violence.

The Twitter accounts for @IvanMarquezFarc, belonging to former FARC leader Ivan Marquez, and @SMarquetalia, which is controlled by FARC dissidents who rejected a 2016 peace deal, now read “Account suspended. Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter rules.”

The account @JSantrich_FARC, belonging to former FARC leader Jesus Santrich, has also been suspended.

Police requested the accounts be suspended on Thursday.

Last week San Francisco-based Twitter permanently suspended the account of U.S. President Donald Trump, which had 88 million followers, citing the risk of further violence following the storming of the Capitol by his supporters. The move raised concerns from some about the power of private tech companies over free speech rights.

Marquez and Santrich – former commanders of the demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) – appeared in a 2019 YouTube video announcing a new offensive, just three years after signing a peace deal with the government.

The 2016 peace deal ended the FARC’s role in a more than five-decade conflict which has left 260,000 dead and millions displaced. Although the deal allowed around 13,000 former FARC members to demobilize, some leaders and combatants have abandoned it and taken up arms again.

Some 2,500 combatants make up FARC dissident groups, which are involved in drug trafficking and illegal mining, according to the government and the military.

National police director General Jorge Luis Vargas this week requested that social media websites block the accounts after a video was published of Marquez speaking alongside dissidents armed with rifles as he criticized the government.

“They’re armed, they’re issuing messages calling for international terrorism. That’s why we have asked that they be blocked, in accordance with international law,” Vargas told journalists.

FARC dissidents, as well as other armed groups such as the National Liberation Army (ELN), regularly use social media networks to publish messages.

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