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Montevideo, July 13th 2024 - 22:45 UTC



“Requesting UK and Argentina talk bilaterally about Falklands future is entirely colonial,” MLA Teslyn Barkman

Wednesday, June 19th 2024 - 10:57 UTC
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My family had been Falkland Islanders for over 100 years before Argentina first made their claim to the UN. My family had been Falkland Islanders for over 100 years before Argentina first made their claim to the UN.

A group of elected assembly members from the Falkland Islands presented an address to the United Nations Special Committee on the situation regarding the implementation of the declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples.

Below is the speech by MLA Teslyn Barkman, elected member of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly.

Madam Chair, excellencies, distinguished guests,

I’m Teslyn, a 7th generation Falkland Islander and politician with responsibility for natural resources, democratically elected under the 2009 constitution of the Falkland Islands.

Our culture is rooted in farming our rural areas, which are called ‘Camp’, derived from ‘Campo’, one of several nods to our gaucho/Patagonian history. We have families today descended from those Argentina claim were kicked out in 1833. Our resolute free will is simply what is not tolerated by our neighbors.

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My family had been Falkland Islanders for over 100 years before Argentina first made their claim to the UN. Over this time, Argentina had also published maps that didn’t include the Falklands as ‘theirs’. History can’t be rewritten.

We have done more for the world than many would realize. Supporting global trade and ship repair for those crossing Cape Horn. And, during World War 1, it was a local woman who spotted an incoming naval ambush that gave allies time to counter, granting a turning point in the war.

Following the trauma of 1982, our people moved to a modern relationship with the UK, securing self-sufficiency and improved self-governance. Whereas Argentina’s domestic law was changed to target my people, and yet they also claim we don’t exist. I grew up somehow both a pirate and a ghost to them, certainly an inconvenient truth. The living evidence their complaints are garbage. The people that still refuse to be traded.

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We understand little is known of us. This is why we invite you all to see our beautiful home. We have a wonderful museum and our people are renowned for the warmth. I am blessed to be in a position that I can still learn from them. Closing off conversation means you choose to be uninformed.

Requesting the UK and Argentina talk bilaterally about our future is colonial. Setting a table for our former colonial power and a power with colonial ambitions over us was suggested in 1965. In the modern setting, this request is neo-colonialism.

The only neutral position is one that recognizes our right to self-determination. So I ask you all today to acknowledge this. If a country asks you to ignore a people’s right to associate freely then it is clear they are not neutral.

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Diluting the self-determination of the people of NSGTs (Non Self Governing Territories) is not in the interest of decolonization. It is dangerous to blindfold yourself to a people’s existence. If you have to deny the existence of a people to make your argument work, your argument does not work.

The UK Government also note our free will is for us to exercise, not them.

We are too small and too threatened to be independent, and we don’t wish to be.

In 2013 we asked the Falkland Islands people whether they wish to remain a UK overseas territory - 99.8% said ‘yes’, and it was internationally observed and with a 92% turnout. A statement of what we have endured - war, colonialism, and we do not wish to be thrown backwards – much more is now at stake.

At the recent SIDS4 conference it was noted we are societies that think locally and act globally. It is built in. Our Standard and Poor’s credit rating of A+ sums up our achievement shrugging off colonialism, and taking on climate change, succeeding despite geopolitical threat and illegal economic sanctions. Under our own leadership, we put people first. Every Falkland Islander receives free education and training of their choosing, with no obligations. We fund free healthcare, income support and a charitable society.

We have the highest percentage of Responsible wool standard farms of any country. We have built a wind farm supplying 34% of our city’s needs, and solar and wind renewables across 90% of Camp.

We have fisheries law protecting community interests, environmental standards and sustainability.

We have worked with our UK Overseas Territory family to expand the UK’s environmental agenda.

We have the world’s first key biodiversity area for whales. There is so very much more and there will continue to be. This is our work, not the UKs, and none of it is achievable without us.

In the past, Argentina has engaged in joint research cruises with us – normal neighborly relations we still support because we believe ocean science should not suffer for ego.

Wishing to take everyone back to 1965 is not nurturing a prosperous or peaceful world, and you can’t learn from what our free will and resilience has developed.

Thank you


Top Comments

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  • Falklands-Free

    Both Teslyn and Gavin presented two very powerful speeches . The C24 as always does nothing because they know that to keep their position tenable they have to have Argentina involvement and so they ignore the rights of a free people because they don't want to upset a rogue country
    Pretty pathetic to say the least.

    Jun 19th, 2024 - 11:01 pm +1
  • Don Alberto

    An excellent speech - unfortunately in vain, as the members of the C24 Special Committee as usual stick their fingers in their ears and shout “WE CAN'T HEAR YOU”.

    Jun 19th, 2024 - 04:23 pm 0
  • Veteran

    Well said Teslyn.

    Jun 19th, 2024 - 05:32 pm 0
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