Media Contact: Lee O’Hanlon,
PR and Creative
Tel: 07912 762850
STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement by Falklands United on behalf of the Falklands United Movement and the people of the Falklands:
“The world has heard OUR voice. It is a Falklands voice. It is a British voice”
Tonight the Government of Argentina and the rest of the world heard OUR voice. It is a Falklands voice. It is a British voice.
The residents of the Falkland Islands have voted overwhelming to remain an overseas territory of the United Kingdom with a massive 98.8% ‘YES’ vote.
In January of this year we wrote, in an open letter to President Kirchner, “For many years YOU have been publicly expressing far too readily what YOU think should happen to OUR home, the Falkland Islands…. we have OUR own voice.”
Tonight is without doubt a very special moment for Falkland Islanders but even more so for democracy.
Our historic referendum has shown to the world that no matter how isolated or small you may be as a people, a united community brought together by purpose and drive can stand up for itself.
We have been treated by the Argentine Government as if we don’t exist – or at least as if we have no rights. We have been told that within twenty years our home will be under the control of a nation that we know does not have our best interests at heart. This will NEVER happen and we have resolutely voted against that.
To anyone that doubted our conviction, to those that disregarded us we urge you to take note of what we have made clear in our referendum.
Democracy and the right to self-determination, as enshrined by the United Nations, is our human right. The world has seen on far too many an occasion throughout history what happens when democracy is overlooked.
The world is increasingly seeing undemocratic powers overthrown by the people they seek to oppress. The Argentine Government has sought an opportunity to oppress the people of the Falkland Islands – they will not get that opportunity.
In the past few years, since the discovery of oil in the region, and as their economy has faltered, Argentina’s Government has ramped up its sabre-rattling to levels not seen since the globally condemned 1982 invasion.
Anti-British sentiment has been rife and completely unacceptable comments such as “Falkland Islanders don’t exist..” have been used by top Argentine politicians. Is this the behavior of a first world modern democracy or of a totalitarian 1940’s dictator?
To put it simply, Argentina must pay attention and accept the result of our referendum. Failure to do so suggests that they have priorities other than democracy and freedom of people to choose their own future. In the modern world surely these priorities must be condemned.
We live here because we want to. Our home is a British Overseas Territory, not a Colony as is incorrectly stated by the Argentine Government. Through our right to self-determination as enshrined by the United Nations we can choose to associate ourselves with whomever we so choose. Tonight we chose to maintain our relationship with the United Kingdom in this way.
Since the British reassertion of rule in 1833, through the wishes of the islands inhabitants (who have all immigrated and settled voluntarily for the past 180 years) we are a proud Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom sharing many values, traditions and customs. We have never been prouder of our association with the UK.
Throughout our referendum weekend we have received overwhelming support from citizens throughout the world, even from within Argentina have we had messages of solidarity. These messages have been humbling and a sign that in addition to most of South America, Argentine citizens are growing tired of the Kirchner Government. We feel no ill towards the Argentinian people but towards their Government who seek to contort the views of their people through the propaganda of misinformation as a smoke screen to their own failing policies.
The outcome of our referendum may not come as a surprise to many, indeed most of the world considered it a foregone conclusion, but in exercising our right to self-determination enshrined by the United Nations, we as a people have spoken.
We as a people have democratically made it very clear as to how we feel. We as a people must now be respected and listen to.
The Falkland Islands have been our home for nearly two hundred years - Nine generations of Falkland Islanders have been born and raised in our beautiful and remote Islands and we look forward to a peaceful and productive future.
Ms Kirchner and the Government of Argentina – Incase we did not make it clear to you in the opening sentence of this statement or in the resounding vote to remain an overseas territory of the United Kingdom we wish to state again:
Tonight the Government of Argentina and the rest of the world have heard OUR voice. It is a Falklands voice. It is a British voice.
Falklands United is a group of past and present inhabitants of the Falkland Islands uniting together with one voice.
1592 First recorded sighting on August 14, by English sea captain John Davis in the ship ‘Desire’.
1690 First recorded landing made by English navigator, Captain John Strong in his ship the ‘Welfare’. He named the channel dividing the two main islands ‘Falkland Sound’ after Viscount Falkland, then Treasurer of the Royal Navy.
Over the years several French ships visited the Islands, which they called Les Iles Malouines after the French port of St. Malo.
1740 Lord Anson passed the Islands on an exploration voyage and urged Britain to consider them as a preliminary step to establishing a base near Cape Horn.
1764 The French diplomat and explorer, Louis Antoine de Bougainville, established a settlement at Port Louis on East Falkland.
1765 Unaware of the French settlement, Commodore John Byron landed at Port Egmont on West Falkland and took possession of the Islands for the British Crown.
1766 Captain John MacBride established a British settlement at Port Egmont.
The Spanish Government protested about the French settlement and Bougainville was forced to surrender his interests in the Islands in return for an agreed sum of money. A Spanish Governor was appointed and Port Louis was renamed Puerto de la Soledad, and placed under the jurisdiction of the Captain-General of Buenos Aires; then a Spanish colony.
1770 British forced from Port Egmont by the Spanish.
1771 Serious diplomatic negotiations involving Britain, Spain and France produce the Exchange of Declarations, whereby Port Egmont was restored to Britain.
1774 Britain withdrew from Port Egmont on economic grounds as part of a redeployment of forces due to the approaching American War of Independence, leaving behind a plaque as the mark of continuing British sovereignty.
1811 The Spanish garrison withdrew from Puerto de la Soledad. At this time, South American colonies were in a state of revolt against Spain.
1816 The provinces which constituted the old Spanish vice-royalty declared independence from Spain as the United Provinces of the River Plate.
1820 A Buenos Aires privateer claimed the Falkland Islands in what was probably an unauthorised act – which was never reported to the Buenos Aires government. No occupation followed this.
1823 A private attempt was made to establish a settlement on the Islands, but this failed after a few months. The organisers requested the Buenos Aires government to appoint one of their employees the unpaid ‘Commander’ of the settlement.
1825 Britain and the Government of Buenos Aires signed a Treaty of Amity, Trade and Navigation. No reference was made to the Falkland Islands.
1826 Louis Vernet, a naturalised citizen of Buenos Aires (originally French with German connections), undertook a private venture and established a new settlement at Puerto de la Soledad.
1829 Buenos Aires appointed Vernet unpaid Commander of his concession in the Falkland Islands and Tierra del Fuego, on the grounds that they claimed all rights in the region previously exercised by Spain. Britain registered a formal protest, asserting her own sovereignty over the Falkland Islands.
Vernet made the first of several approaches to Britain then to re-assert its sovereignty over the Islands. Earlier he had got the British Consul in Buenos Aires to countersign his land grants.
1831 Vernet seized three American sealing ships, in an attempt to control fishing in Falkland waters. In retaliation, the US sloop ‘Lexington’ destroyed Puerto de la Soledad, and proclaimed the Islands ‘free of all government’. Most of the settlers were persuaded to leave on board the ‘Lexington’.
1832 Diplomatic relations between the US and Argentina broke down until 1844. Supporting Britain, the US questioned the claim that all Spanish possessions had been transferred to the Government of Buenos Aires and confirmed its use of the Falklands as a fishing base for over 50 years. The US declared that Spain had exercised no sovereignty over several coasts to which Buenos Aires claimed to be heir, including Patagonia.
Buenos Aires appointed an interim Commander to the Islands, Commander Mestivier, who arrived (with a tiny garrison and some convicts) about a month before Britain re-asserted its claim at Port Egmont.
1833 Commander Mestivier had been murdered by his own men by the time Captain Onslow sailed from Port Egmont in the warship ‘Clio’ and took over Port Louis, claiming the Islands for Britain.
Buenos Aires protested, only to be told: “The British Government upon this occasion has only exercised its full and undoubted right … The British Government at one time thought it inexpedient to maintain any Garrison in those Islands: It has now altered its views, and has deemed it proper to establish a Post there.”
Since this time, British administration has remained unbroken apart from a ten week Argentine occupation in 1982.
1845 Stanley officially became the capital of the Islands when Governor Moody moved the administration from Port Louis. The capital was so named after the Colonial Secretary of the day, Edward Geoffrey Smith Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby.
1914 Battle of the Falkland Islands, one of the major naval engagements of the First World War in which British victory secured the Cape Horn passage for the remainder of the war.
1965 United Nations Assembly passed Resolution 2065, following lobbying by Argentina. This reminded members of the organisation’s pledge to end all forms of colonialism. Argentine and British Governments were called upon to negotiate a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute, bringing the issue to international attention formally for the first time.
1966 Through diplomatic channels, Britain and Argentina began discussions in response to UN Assembly pressure.
1967 The Falkland Islands Emergency Committee was set up by influential supporters in the UK to lobby the British Government against any weakening on the sovereignty issue. In April, the Foreign Secretary assured the House of Commons that the Islanders’ interests were paramount in any discussions with Argentina.
1971 Communications Agreement was signed by the British and Argentine governments whereby external communications would be provided to the Falkland Islands by Argentina.
1982 On 2 April Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands and diplomatic relations between the two nations were broken off. Argentine troops occupied the Islands for ten weeks before being defeated by the British. The Argentines surrendered on 14 June, now known as Liberation Day.
1990 Diplomatic relations between Britain and Argentina were restored.
1999 At the instigation of Falkland Islands Councillors, a Joint Statement was signed between the British and Argentine Governments on 14 July. This was designed ‘to build confidence and reduce tension’ between the Islands and Argentina. Two Councillors from the Islands witnessed the signing on behalf of the Falkland Islands Government.
2009 Following almost ten years of discussion and negotiation, a new Constitution for the Falkland Islands took effect on 1 January 2009. Marking an important milestone in the history of the Falkland Islands, the new Constitution provides enhanced local democracy and internal self-government, and enshrines the right of self-determination.