Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Falkland Islands debate in House of Commons tonight

Today the islanders showed their unity over their future, with a referendum that showed 99.8% of votes cast in favour of remaining British. The referendum had asked: "Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?"
These may be small islands almost 8,000 miles from the UK, but the islanders' hope is that their voices will be listened to all the way to Buenos Aires and beyond - not least by other nations and capitals that Argentina has been seeking to convince of its claims.
The response locally was unequivocal:
- Nigel Haywood, governor of the Falkland Islands, said: "Obviously it is a major principle of the United Nations that a people have their right to self-determination, and you don't get a much clearer expression of the people's self-determination than such a large turnout and such a large 'yes' vote."

- Dick Sawle, a member of the island's legislative assembly, said it was an "absolutely phenomenal result which will send out the strongest possible message to the rest of the world about our right to self-determination - a right that was fought for in 1982, and which we have honoured tonight."
Islanders had "very, very clearly said they wish to remain as a British overseas territory with those rights", he said, and it would "be our job now as a government to get that message out to the rest of the world and every country that will listen to us".
He added: "What is very clear is that these islands never have belonged to Argentina; what is also extremely clear to me here, and from the results that we heard tonight, is that they never will do."

Tonight at around 7.15pm UK time the House of Commons will debate the referendum and show parliament's support for the locals. 
Two comments stand out for me:
i). The recent comment by the Argentine foreign minister that the islanders' wishes didn't count because they were what he termed an "implanted" population.
Many locals are 8th or 9th generation, which puts the lie to that.
ii). MPs all received a fanciful letter from the Argentine ambassador to the UK which was riddled with factual and legal errors. Worst of all was her comment that the UK and the world should not respect the "wishes" of the islanders. We, in the House of Commons are 100% behind the islanders.
The last word should go to one of the international observers, a Uruguyan, Senor Jaime Trobo, who said that:
"The Falkland Islanders are citizens and they have the right to express themselves."

For my part I want a return to better relationships with the south american countries, but an understanding that local islanders right to self determination must be respected. The UN Charter says this but the Argentina does not seem to be listening.