Falklands: Former Argentine senator calls for fresh talks with UK
And Leona Roberts, Mr Pollard’s deputy, has urged the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonisation (C-24) to recognise the British overseas territory’s inalienable right to self-determination, while insisting residents would never allow themselves to be “bullied into submission”. Both Mrs Roberts and Mark Pollard, the Assembly’s Chairman, are in New York for the main session of the C-24’s annual meeting.
Their arrival comes against a backdrop of increased tensions over the island, with Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez having declared sovereignty “a matter of state”.
Felipe Sola, the country’s Foreign Minister, met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres yesterday, prior to the start of the meeting, urging him to intercede to encourage the UK “consent to resume discussions” over the future of the Islands.
Earlier this month, Daniel Filmus, Secretary of Affairs pertaining to the Malvinas, accused the UK of “usurping” the remote archipelago and “plundering” its wealth.
Mark Pollard said: “I’m here because our expansionist, aggressive neighbour wants to take my home, my people’s home, my children’s home and I simply cannot accept that.
“When my daughters look me in the eyes in the future and ask “Daddy, why did you let these people take our home?” I have to be able to look them back in the eyes and promise them that I did all I could to provide them with the most basic of things. A safe home, to live and raise their own children. A future of their choosing.
“Our neighbours aim not to empower our territory to reach a post-colonial status that is acceptable to us. It is instead to seek to deny us our basic human right of self-determination.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Argentina’s President, Alberto Fernandez
Mark Pollard, chairman of the Legislative Assembly
Falklanders were “perfectly happy” with their current political status, as evidenced by a 2013 in which 92 percent of them turned out to vote 99.8 percent in favour of retaining their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom, Mr Pollard stressed.
He added: “I have two daughters. One is six months old and the other three years old.
“I want them to grow up confident and safe in our own home. I will have to teach them never to trust our closest neighbours though.
“I also know that the innocence taken from our community, staring down the barrel of a gun, will not return any time soon.
“An innocence my children and possibly their children may never know. I will ensure they know determination, resolve and to never kowtow to bullies.
READ MORE: ‘Waste of time’ – Argentina told to move on from Falklands rhetoric
Leona Roberts also spoke at the meeting
“I will teach them that although we are small in number, we can be confident and must always speak out against tyranny.”
Mr Pollard, who told the committee his ancestors John and Esther Smith arrived in the Falklands 172 years ago, said: “In case you are wondering why have I laid out my ancestors’ story, my story and described my children’s likely story?
“It is because our neighbours, that outnumbered us by 16,000 to one still want to take my home away from me, our people’s home from us, and my children’s home away from them.
“They have never shown remorse for their actions, instead they brazenly stand here before the world claiming to have been treated unjustly themselves.”
He added: “The only people who can solve the question of the Falkland Islands, are the people of the Falkland Islands and we see no problem
with our current political status.
Alberto Fernandez and Felipe Sola look at a map of the Falklands last year
Daniel Filmus lashed out at the UK earlier this month
“If the international community would support our basic human right to determine our own future then it will have fixed ‘the question of the Falkland Islands’.“
Mrs Roberts, like Mr Pollard a 6th generation Falklander, told the committee: “Since the 1940s the Government of Argentina has put forward changing narratives, history distorted to suit its goal of assuming control of my country.
“They have created a mythology around the Falkland Islands, and this dangerous practice continues today.
“With no indigenous peoples, we are a young country. Our cultural identity is British in many respects, but draws on a range of influences and is quite distinct.
“We are our own people – Falkland Islanders – Kelpers – and deeply proud to be so.
“Argentina’s refusal to acknowledge two centuries of natural settlement is abhorrent, particularly coming from a nation that is itself built on European migration and, tragically, the largely successful decimation of its indigenous people.”
Referring to the invasion, she added: “I was 10 years old in 1982.
“I remember all too well the terror of invasion night – huddled under upturned furniture and a kitchen table, as shells and bullets flew around our
The islands were eventually liberated after a three-month war which claimed almost 1,000 lives – but Mrs Roberts stressed that almost 40 years later, islanders were still looking over their shoulders.
She explained: “Even today, Madam Chair, Argentina attempts to restrict our economic, political and social wellbeing – threatening those who seek to do legitimate business with our islands and even attempting to block our sportsmen and women from competing in international events.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
“It is unerringly the Falklands which behaves responsibly and with decency, even toward those who would do us ill.
“The modern Falklands is not a colonial enclave. We are economically self-sufficient and are internally self-governing.
Please be clear when you hear the Argentine delegation speak of a ‘peaceful, negotiated settlement’ what they seek is nothing less than the commandeering of my home against the clearly-stated wish of my people.
“Falkland Islanders do not wish to be ‘incorporated’ by Argentina.
“We do not wish to be a colony of Argentina, and we will not be bullied into submission.”