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Malvinas families divided over identifying remains at the Falklands’ Argentine cemetery

Wednesday, April 25th 2012 - 23:37 UTC
Full article 65 comments
Cesar Trejo: we must respect the wishes of all families Cesar Trejo: we must respect the wishes of all families
The Argentine memorial in Darwin has 123 graves “Argentine soldier, only known to God” The Argentine memorial in Darwin has 123 graves “Argentine soldier, only known to God”

The Malvinas families’ commission regrets they have not been consulted on the Argentine government’s request for international help to identify the remains of the ‘unknown soldiers’ buried at the Argentine cemetery in the Falkland Islands.

“The Commission expressed its surprise, even astonishment and pain for not having been consulted on the issue”, said Malvinas war veteran Cesar Trejo and proxy of the Relatives of the fallen in Malvinas and South Atlantic Islands Commission. The Commission represents 550 families of the 649 combatants killed in the 1982 conflict with the UK.

On 2 April, the 30th anniversary of the Falklands’ conflict the Argentine president Cristina Fernandez announced she had formally requested to the International Red Cross Committee, (IRCC), to intercede before the UK to allow forensic anthropologists identify the remains at the Argentine memorial.

Under Argentine law 26.498/2009, the President is the only referent and custodian of the Darwin cemetery and the remains, but the Families Commission is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the premises.

However some of the Malvinas families do not support the presidential initiative arguing they are against the compulsory forensic procedure and would prefer things to remain as they are.

“The right to identity is not infringed at the Darwin cemetery” and “this is not a situation that can be homologated to the disappeared in Argentina”, said some of the families, members of the Commission.

Therefore together with the letter addressed by President Cristina Fernandez the Malvinas Families’ commission also sent a letter to the IRCC requesting that the identification of the 123 plaques that read “Argentine soldier, only known to God” does not advance until all the families are consulted on the issue.

“There are families that wish to see the grave of their loved one identified, which is legitimate, but there are also families that express the opposite since they have gone through the mourning process, which is also legitimate”, said Trejo.

“We must respect all the wishes and spiritual needs of all families that have their sons buried at the Darwin cemetery”, said Trejo adding that since all the remains would have to be exposed to DNA testing, “unanimity seems insurmountable”.

“It is a very delicate, and divisive, situation, since by implementing the rights of one of the families we could be violating the rights of another”.

Likewise Trejo said that there are two fears among the Families Commission members: one is that if the forensic tests go ahead, they could re-ignite a latent position among the Islanders which is to ship the remains back to Argentina. Secondly that the field work becomes an Argentine media attraction and to express it brutally “could turn into a festival of bones”.

In the first case, the Families Commission has specifically requested the IRCC that the remains cannot be removed from the Darwin cemetery and guarantees from the Argentine and British governments that there will be no release of the forensic activities be it pictures, images or whatever, insisted Trejo.

Last April 10 the spokesperson for the IRCC, Steve Anderson said that the Commission was prepared to intercede and mediate “as long as it is requested by all the families and sides involved”
“Identifying the remains of the fallen without the consent of their families would mean reopening deep wounds and putting back the clock to very painful times”, said Anderson.
 

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  • reality check

    I agree with Mr Trejos stance on this subject. I find it repugnant that they have a law giving custody of their dead to the office of the president

    Apr 26th, 2012 - 12:10 am 0
  • Islander1

    The proof- if it was ever needed- that CFK wants to play politics with the dead and treats the family relatives with the same gutter attitude she has towards us Islanders

    Apr 26th, 2012 - 12:27 am 0
  • reality check

    I can not believe it, these soldiers had no freedom when they were alive and now they have no freedom in death. Do not get me wrong, my sympathies are not for them because they were killed in action fighting against our troops. They should not have been there in the first place. My sympathies are purely humane. Words can not describe the contempt I feel for Argentinian Government, for that matter, what sort of a people would live under a system that legislates to control your dead.

    Apr 26th, 2012 - 07:23 am 0
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