In a resolute display of solidarity, the Falkland Islands have once again voiced their unwavering commitment to their political status as a British Overseas Territory. As the nation commemorates the 41st anniversary of its liberation from Argentine forces, the islanders have reiterated their desire to remain part of the UK family. The Falkland Islands held a landmark referendum in March 2013, in which an overwhelming majority voted in favor of their continued association with the United Kingdom.
On April 2, 1982, the tranquility of the Falkland Islands was shattered when an aggressive neighbor forcefully invaded, showing no regard for the safety, security, or rights of the people residing there. The ensuing 74 days were marked by harrowing experiences for the Falkland Islanders and the UK armed forces, unlike any they had encountered before. The memories of this traumatic period, both physical and psychological, still resonate within the hearts and minds of the islanders even after four decades, a Press Release from the Falkland Islands Government (FIG) stated on Wednesday.
The 2013 referendum, hailed by independent observers as free, fair, and in accordance with international standards and local laws, demonstrated the unequivocal determination of the Falkland Islanders to determine their own political destiny. With an astounding 92% turnout, 99.8% of the votes cast affirmed the islanders' preference to remain a British Overseas Territory. The referendum's legitimacy and the resounding endorsement it received from the islanders left no room for doubt regarding their allegiance and aspirations.
Gavin Short, Chair of the Legislative Assembly, conveyed the islanders' sentiments, remarking, 41 years of freedom have witnessed the growth and development of the Falkland Islands, both economically and in terms of its population. Despite our achievements, Argentina continues to pose challenges, seeking to hinder our progress and coerce us into changing our choice on sovereignty. However, the Falkland Islands demonstrated in 2013 that our political status is a decision for our people alone, and not for an aggressive and hostile neighbor. With our characteristic can-do attitude, we will continue to overcome these challenges.
Last year, the Falkland Islanders solemnly commemorated and joyously celebrated the 40th anniversary of their liberation from Argentine forces. In their 41st year of freedom, they remain steadfast in their commitment to honoring the sacrifices made by those who gave their lives or bear the physical and emotional scars of war. Recognizing that their nation's progress is indebted to the valor and selflessness of these individuals, the islanders express eternal gratitude for the sacrifices that shaped the country they are proud to call home.