Argentine Veterans of the 1982 conflict want the bodies of the 123 “unknowns” at Darwin cemetery to be identified.
Anyone who witnessed the repatriation of British forces from the Falkland’s War in 1982 could not have doubted the support, gratitude and respect given so openly by the British public. A jubilant and patriotic crowd bedecked in red, white and blue met every returning ship and aircraft to show their appreciation of what had been achieved. There wasn’t a town in the land, or corner of the empire, that didn’t rejoice and wonder at the scale of the accomplishment.
How different though in Argentina. Returning soldiers, shunned by their government and branded as failures and unpatriotic, have been fighting for recognition for almost thirty years. For some, mainly the Officers and NCOs, return to normal life was fairly straightforward but for the thousands of conscripts who bore the brunt of this loathing, life has been very different. Even today in Buenos Aires Plaza de Mayo, yards from the Casa Rosada, where ironically on 02 April 1982 the flag waving and jingoism was for the revered Junta, the “Malvinas Veterans” still protest at this unjust treatment. Now, in an attempt to honour some of their comrades, they have petitioned the Argentine Government to identify the bodies of the 123 soldiers who, known only unto God, lie in the Darwin cemetery.
DNA identification and its ability to name the dead after so long is clever science, but in this case causing much angst. Some believe that the dead should be allowed to rest in peace whilst others, particularly families, want to know in which grave their father, son or brother lie so that they may rightfully grieve their loved ones. Whichever way, whilst the Argentine Government maintains that they are buried on Argentine soil they will continue to be used as political pawns. Even after death, these servicemen are being used in a war of words in a cold-hearted attempt to point score on the international stage.
Should it happen, it would undoubtedly involve a team of scientists, probably Argentine, exhuming and identifying each body over a lengthy period. It is understood that the Argentine Families Commission do not support this proposal. Whether this is wanted should ultimately be decided by the families of those that fell, whether it will happen and who decides that will be more problematic.
By Neil Russell, SeAled PR – Stanley