MercoPress, en Español

Montevideo, December 15th 2017 - 10:21 UTC

Identification of Argentine soldiers buried in Falklands begins

Monday, June 19th 2017 - 12:47 UTC
Full article 19 comments
Darwin Cemetery will be close  since today until the completion of the works. Darwin Cemetery will be close since today until the completion of the works.
 FIG provided a container required by ICRC where a laboratory will be. (Pic Hernán Zenteno/LN) FIG provided a container required by ICRC where a laboratory will be. (Pic Hernán Zenteno/LN)
ICRC's Humanitarian Project Plan, Laurent Corbaz  will work alongside a team of 12 forensic experts ICRC's Humanitarian Project Plan, Laurent Corbaz will work alongside a team of 12 forensic experts

As per the agreement between Argentina and Great Britain, the task is carried out by a mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Relatives of the fallen feel mixed emotions.Thirty-five years after the war and after prolonged negotiations between the two governments, the ICRC mission is already on the islands to begin as soon as weather permits it the exhumation of 123 Of the 237 graves under a plaque “Argentine Soldier only known to God.”

 Thirty-five years after the war and after prolonged negotiations between the two governments, the ICRC mission is already on the islands to begin as soon as weather permits it the exhumation of 123 Of the 237 graves under a plaque “Argentine Soldier only known to God.”

“I'm happy on the one hand, anxious and also regretful to remember my mother who died three months ago from sadness for not being able to reach the end of this process that began in 2011,” Norma Gomez, sister of soldier Eduardo Gomez, told the Argentine Telam news agency. She is from one of the 93 families who contributed their DNA samples to help achieve identification.

Chaco is the province with the largest number of relatives buried in the Falklands that gave their consent - a total of 22 - while two families in that province refused to provide their genetic sample.

Norma said she fully trusted the forensics experts who will work in Darwin and that if the remains of her brother are identified, she will honour her mother's wishes - that he be buried forever in the islands.

She still remembers the first time she went traveled to the islands in 1991 in the first trip of relatives after the war of '82. “It was terrible, just there we found out that my brother was not identified, which fueled my family's hopes that he was alive somewhere and my grandmother died with the illusion that he had not died in the war.”

Maria Fernanda Araujo, president of the Malvinas Islands Commission of Relatives, who groups 550 families across the country, told Telam that “these are very hard days because, as the dates approach, I feel distressed.” She added that she hoped the mission in Darwin would “bring peace to all relatives.”

When it all started in 2011 under Cristina Kirchner, there were many relatives left aside on such a delicate issue, “and the commission was not taken into account,” Araujo, who handed over her DNA samples barely two months ago, explained. She is the sister of soldier Elbio Eduardo Araujo of the Regiment 7 of La Plata.

“I know of many mothers who had to increase their medication,” because they have trouble sleeping. She said there were many who disagreed with the way things are being handled and that the commission had “asked questions they should have asked many years ago.”

Meanwhile, Maria de la Caridad Reyes Lobos, sister of soldier José Antonio Reyes Lobos, also offered DNA samples from her family, very excited about the possibility of seeing her borther's grave with his name on it. When she went to the islands in 1991 “it was very shocking, we did not know where to place the flowers until we decided to choose a tomb,” she explained.

The mission in Darwin will be headed by the head of the ICRC's Humanitarian Project Plan, Laurent Corbaz, who will work alongside a team of 12 forensic experts, two from the British government - John Clark and Jon Sterenbergy - and two from the Argentine government, Luis Fondebrider and Mercedes Salado.

The ICRC estimates that the mission in Darwin will last until late August, and it expects to be able to exhume from one to three graves each day, depending on weather conditions, while the final report - to be delivered to both governments - will be released by the end of the year.

At the cemetery, Which will remain restricted to the public until the operation is completed, a laboratory will be set up in a container where small bone samples will be collected and sent to the EAAF center in Cordoba to be compared with the samples taken from relatives who gave their consent, which up to now would be about 93.

Some of the samples taken at Darwin, and randomly chosen, will also be sent to the forensic genetics laboratories of the Central University of Lancashire in Preston, UK, and of the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain) to double check the data.

Human Rights Secretariat sources told Telam that the government will launch in the coming days a public outreach campaign to try to locate the 20 families that could not yet be reached.

Once the remains have been exhumed and samples taken, they will immediately be buried in an suitable coffin, since at present the bodies are buried in mortuary bags.

Apart from DNA, the experts will also rely on the 'ante mortem' data; that is, their physical appearance, their medical and dental history, with details such as fractures, missing teeth or distinctive features, and even fingerprints, depending on the conditions in which the remains are found. (TELAM)

- Falkland Island Government have put in place the necessary legal arrangements and will provide any logistical support requested to facilitate this important humanitarian work and in order to preserve the site, the Government will close the Darwin Cemetery to the public for the duration of the ICRC work.

The access restrictions will be in effect from Monday 19th June until the completion of the works. This is currently expected to be the end of August or early September. Access to the cemetery will still be permitted but those wishing to enter must report to the site security staff before doing so. Visitors are also asked to respect the privacy of the exhumation works and photographs of the works are not permitted.
 

 

Top Comments

Disclaimer & comment rules
  • DemonTree

    I can't imagine so, Golfcronie. They died for their country, the least their country can do is pay for coffins.

    Jun 20th, 2017 - 08:14 am +2
  • MarkWhelan

    “golfcronie” I can see that you are such a caring person. I can understand why you would expect the families who lost one or more loved one to be expected to pay for the coffins of their family members. Just as you expect your golf club to pay for the replacement of any and all balls you lost in the rough or water hazard.

    Jun 20th, 2017 - 07:09 pm +2
  • DemonTree

    On the Falkland Island news agency? Surely you jest!

    Being from one country or another doesn't make you a troll. Hepatia's not a troll because she lives in the US, she's a troll because she robo-posts and most of her real comments are trying to stir up shit. Similarly most of Toby's comments are just trying to provoke, and he doesn't pretend otherwise.

    I know some people here like to accuse everyone who disagrees with them of being a troll, but that wasn't what I meant.

    Jun 21st, 2017 - 01:28 pm +2
Read all comments

Commenting for this story is now closed.
If you have a Facebook account, become a fan and comment on our Facebook Page!