To date (Monday) the Falkland Islands government has received no formal request for the exhumation and identification of the Argentine combatants buried at the Darwin Cemetery, was the reply from Gilbert House in Stanley to reports to that effect in The Independent, and in the Argentine media.
According to The Independent, anthropologists in Argentina are set to exhume the unidentified bodies of over 100 Argentine soldiers who were killed during the Falklands War in 1982 and are buried at Darwin Cemetery.
”The Argentine Group of Anthropological Forensics (AGAF) has been preparing for a year for their chance to dig up the 123 unidentified bodies buried on the Falkland Islands, and it seems now that the group will finally be given the green light to begin their work, writes The Independent.
And as part of their preparations, the group has contacted 78 families who have agreed to give blood samples, as well as provide information on the appearance of their loved ones, so that these details be placed into a database.
However the elected government of the Falklands in a brief statement from MLA Dr. Barry Elsby said that the Falkland Islands Government is aware of the desire of many to exhume and identify the fallen at Darwin Cemetery, but to date has not received a formal request for permission to undertake this work”.
The elected government of the Falkland Islands has always been very open and receptive to requests for the next of kin of the Argentine fallen interested in visiting the Darwin Cemetery, and on occasions when the number of visitors involved is large has provided the necessary logistics.
There are no limitations for Argentine veterans to visit the Falklands, the only non written request is that of respect for the ceremony and since it is a very personal moment for each family this means avoiding any ostentation of flags or similar symbols, or attempts to make it a political event.
In other words respect for the hosts and Islanders, all of them civilians, who also endured the 74-day conflict many of them locked up in inhumane conditions by Argentine forces, and still suffer the stress consequences of the war.
Member of the AGAF, Luis Fondebrider, is quoted saying that their preparations had taken painstaking efforts over the last year to obtain the information and they are now fully ready to exhume the bodies, take the samples back to Argentina for examination and attempt to match them up with the information they have already.
“From the technical point of view, we are ready to launch the operation in the Falkland Islands when it is requested”, said Fondebrider adding that “we believe in eight weeks’ time, we can exhume the bodies, analyse them, take the samples and rebury them in the Darwin cemetery.”
The group has said that they must carry out the work before March 2015, as the weather after that period will make digging nearly impossible.
When the idea of the exhumation and identification of the buried bodies was first launched by the government of President Cristina Fernández, apparently with the Red Cross as possible mediators, it was not without controversy, since a percentage of Argentine families were contrary to the idea preferring for the remains to be untouched and were not willing to provide DNA samples.
The 123 bodies make up nearly 20% of the 649 Argentines that died during the war between Argentina and the UK that took place between April and June 1982, which also took the lives of 258 British soldiers and three civilians from the Falkland Islands.