By Teslyn Barkman (*) - In March 2013, Falkland Islanders took to the polls in an internationally observed referendum in which 99.8% of voters, on a turnout of 92%, voted in favor of remaining a self-governing Overseas Territory of the UK. We spoke for our future.
Falkland Islanders, just like people the world over, have the right to decide our own future, after all, self-determination is a fundamental right, enshrined in the first article of the Charter of the United Nations.
However, in the Falkland Islands, it does not always feel this way; it is something we have to plead is recognized on a daily basis, whether on social media, in the press, or in the United Nations itself.
Our freedom to live under the government we choose is something that continues to be questioned and attacked. It is hard to describe what this feels like, especially to those who are fortunate not to have to experience it.
When a country wishes to write your people out of history we have experienced they will throw everything they can to achieve it. Including attacking your economy or invading your country and bringing a war to your doorstep.
Professors Cohen and Rodriguez’s article (“Why UK must re-open talks with Argentina on Falklands”) is just the latest example of this.
What they ask for seems simple enough; for the governments of the UK and Argentina to sit down and negotiate. It sounds so simple but the reality is they are asking our country to be traded like a commodity out from under our feet.
The consistent efforts to devalue our human rights is an attempt to exclude the Falklands people from what they would like to see, a negotiation on our home.
We are the inconvenient truth to Argentina. The Falklands people can trace our society back 10 generations and we are the only people or authority our country has ever had, and we cannot be traded.
Argentina has been clear that any negotiations can only have one outcome and that is the handing over of the sovereignty of our Islands to their government; now that is colonialism.
We remain incredibly grateful to those in Scotland and across the UK who support our right to self-determination. The robust response of the UK Government to the EU-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States Summit Joint Declaration of July 18 was a clear demonstration of that support. The response from the EU made clear that despite the rhetoric from some in Argentina; nothing has actually changed, a point supported by at least one Argentine newspaper.
Eight generations of my family are Falkland Islanders. Life here is, and always has been, different to many other places but I am so proud of the distinct culture and welcoming society we have made.
Islanders enjoy a good quality of life; we have challenges like everywhere but enshrine health, education, and treasuring our unique environment.
We all want to leave the future better for our children, and as I think about my own child, I just hope that his happiness and freedom won’t continue to be limited by the bullying actions of the government of Argentina.
The children of the Falklands should not have to grow up carrying the burden of defending that they do exist as Argentina mobilizes to convince the world otherwise. As heartbreaking as it must have been for my mum to have passed this on to me, it is now the next generation’s cause too, and it should not be this way. We exist, we love our country and unsurprisingly we do not want our country negotiated.
This piece was published in The National, a Scottish daily newspaper owned by Newsquest. It began publication on 24 November 2014, and was the first daily newspaper in Scotland to support Scottish independence. Launched as a response to calls from Newsquest's readership for a pro-independence paper in the wake of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, it is a sister paper of The Herald, and is edited by Callum Baird. Initially published on weekdays, a Saturday edition was added in May 2015. The National is printed in tabloid format, and is also available via online subscription.
(*) Teslyn Barkman is the deputy chairman of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly