Liberation Day Message from the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands
This year is one of commemoration; the Falkland Islands are preparing events to commemorate those who lost their lives in both the Battle of Coronel and Battle of the Falklands in 1914. In this particular month we remembered the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings and today, particularly for Falkland Islanders, we remember those that liberated the Falkland Islands from the illegal occupation by Argentine forces, in 1982. We shall never forget all of those who lost their lives during that terrible war.
Liberation Day is also a day when we reflect on the fact that we are a people with almost two centuries of development to look back on with pride, as well as much to look forward to.
It was just over one year ago when 92% of the electorate voted in a referendum on whether we wanted to retain our status as a British Overseas Territory, with a resounding 99.8% in favour of doing so. The result sent an unequivocal and powerful message to the world about our determination to steer our own future. This was not just the decision of Islanders of British descent but all of the Islanders, from different nationalities who have decided to make the Falkland Islands their home.
We continue to remind those that will listen, that the UN Charter upholds the basic right of all people to determine their own future. We exercised that right very clearly last year, and call on the international community to support that inalienable human right.
We have our own Constitution and are internally self-governing. Our political partnership with the UK is clearly defined and mutually agreed. We are fortunate to be in a relatively strong fiscal position, and are economically self-sufficient, apart from our defence. A defence that is only required due to the war in 1982 and Argentina’s ongoing claim, and is the minimum it can be to act as a deterrent against such action in the future.
Disappointingly, there have been a series of concerted efforts from the Argentine Government to stifle our economic and political development over the last ten years. These efforts are often in contravention of international law and have included:
- A decree attempting to limit merchant shipping access to the Islands for trade purposes;
- A blanket ban on charter flights entering the Islands;
- A failure to punish or even condemn those carrying out physical intimidation of international cruise liners visiting the Falklands;
- Amended legislation with clear penalties of fines and imprisonment of any executives involved in the oil exploration in the waters surrounding the Islands;
- A Presidential decree making it illegal for fishing companies operating in Argentina to also work in the Falklands; and
- A persistent refusal to work within the South Atlantic Fisheries Commission agreement to co-operate in the protection of the ecosystem in the South West Atlantic.
We will continue to develop our economy, for the benefit of our people, and for the preservation of our homeland. That is the best tribute to those who gave their ‘today’ for our ‘tomorrow’.
The Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands