Argentine government representatives have suggested that the UK is to blame for delaying the DNA testing to check the identities of unknown soldiers who lost their lives during the Falklands War.
An article quoting Argentine government sources outlined that the UK is purposely delaying the arrival of International Red Cross and Argentine forensic experts to the Falklands to begin the DNA testing of families who lost loved ones in the war and comparing it with that of the unknown deceased soldiers.
DNA Testing Falkland Islands War Soldiers
The Argentine cemetery at Darwin, where they are buried, has 237 graves of which 123 remain unidentified. Buenos Aires daily La Nacion reported citing government sources that London has not replied to a request sent by Argentina five months ago to allow the forensic experts to carry out DNA testing on the soldiers buried under the caption “Argentine soldier known only to God”. The newspaper furthered that the process will have to be delayed for at least five more months due to the forthcoming winter in the Southern Hemisphere.
A Foreign Office Spokesperson speaking to La Nacion said: “As with the Falkland Islands government, we show our solidarity with the families of those who lost their lives in the Falklands and wish to identify their beloved ones. It’s a delicate and complex humanitarian matter which the British government takes seriously.”
They added: “The Argentine government understandably took its time to present the proposal, which is being analysed by the corresponding parties. The issues can’t be rushed since it is important to outline the process in the correct way. We regret that the Argentine government has decided to politicise this humanitarian issue.”
Different Kinds of DNA Testing Delays
Last year Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire called on Argentina to contact the UK and Falklands’ governments formally to implement the process of identification of the soldiers’ remains. However, Argentina reasoned that it was a humanitarian issue it was coordinated by the International Red Cross and not directly between London and Buenos Aires.
Furthermore the delays may not be entirely due to lack of confirmation from the UK. When the DNA initiative was first launched, not all the families agreed that they wanted DNA testing to be conducted, especially when the announcement was made without previous consultation.
Cesar Trejo, a Malvinas veteran and head of a Relatives of the Fallen in Malvinas Commission said: “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.”
He added: “We must respect all the wishes and spiritual needs of all families that have their sons buried at the Darwin cemetery. 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.”
Falkland Islands History
The military conflict between the United Kingdom and Argentina in 1982 over disputed territories in the South Atlantic ended with Argentina’s capitulation. Over 900 people died in the fighting.
The Falkland Islands, with a population of just under 3,000, is a British Overseas Territory. It is located 300 miles off the coast of Argentina, which still claims sovereignty over the archipelago (group of islands).