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|Falklands War: UK and Argentina mark invasion 30 years on|
Falklands War: UK and Argentina mark invasion 30 years on
Services are being held in Britain and Argentina to mark the 30th anniversary of the start of the Falklands War.
A total of 255 British servicemen and about 650 Argentines died after the UK sent a task force following the Argentine invasion on 2 April 1982.
The anniversary comes amid renewed tension, as Argentina has reasserted its claim to the archipelago.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said the day should be used to remember both the British and Argentine dead.
In a statement, Mr Cameron also said that he remained committed to upholding British sovereignty over the islands.
Meanwhile, the Royal Navy has confirmed one of its newest warships, HMS Dauntless, will leave the UK on Wednesday for a six-month routine deployment in the South Atlantic.
British veterans of the war - and relatives of those who died - have paid their respects at Britain’s National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
A single candle was lit as a gesture to mark the anniversary. It will remain alight for 74 days - the length of the conflict.
Anglican priest the Rev Vic Van Den Bergh told the service they had come together to pray for peace between the UK and Argentina and to remember the fallen - including the three Falkland Islanders who died in the conflict.
In his statement, Mr Cameron said: "Thirty years ago today the people of the Falkland Islands suffered an act of aggression that sought to rob them of their freedom and their way of life.
"Today is a day for commemoration and reflection: a day to remember all those who lost their lives in the conflict - the members of our armed forces, as well as the Argentinian personnel who died."
255 British servicemen and three Falklands civilians died during the conflict. The number of Argentine dead is estimated at about 650
Mr Cameron saluted the "heroism" of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who took part in the operation which freed the islanders from Argentine rule.
He said "We are rightly proud of the role Britain played in righting a profound wrong. And the people of the Falkland Islands can be justly proud of the prosperous and secure future they have built for their islands since 1982.
"Britain remains staunchly committed to upholding the right of the Falkland Islanders, and of the Falkland Islanders alone, to determine their own future.
"That was the fundamental principle that was at stake 30 years ago: and that is the principle which we solemnly reaffirm today."
In a statement, shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said there was no evidence the Falkland Islanders wished to change their nationality and added: "Something more important than the Empire’s legacy was and is at stake: the universal right to self-determination and our belief that diplomatic dispute should be resolved by democracy rather than the uptake of arms."
Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is expected to visit the southern port of Ushuaia on Monday to remember the Argentine servicemen who died.
President Fernandez is due to lead rallies to commemorate the Argentine dead and to light an eternal flame devoted to their memory.
Before she arrived, Argentine veterans held a vigil for the fallen.
Army veteran Carlos Alberto Latorre said he saw himself as one of the "Malvinas combatants" and it was important for him to be there to educate Argentines about what happened during the conflict, Reuters reported.
He said he could see younger generations also believed Argentina had a rightful claim to the islands, and this gave him the strength to continue.
Fellow veteran Alejandro Meringer said he felt he had "lost his youth" because of the war. He said he experienced great joy when he was told by an officer he would be helping to "recover Las Islas Malvinas" but this was replaced by sadness when their mission was unsuccessful.
British Falklands War veteran Simon Weston, who was badly injured when his ship Sir Galahad was attacked, told the BBC he did not believe that Argentina’s military capability was as strong a threat as it was at the time of the initial conflict.
Richard Jones, whose son Craig was the last soldier to be killed in the conflict, said those who lived on the islands identified themselves as British.
"They’re not Latin American, they’ve got nothing really in common with the Argentines. They are as British stock as we or anybody else. They want to remain - they don’t want to be part of Argentina, and that was what the war was all about," he said.
Argentina has asked for negotiations about sovereignty but the British government says it will not discuss the issue without the agreement of the islanders.
BBC World affairs editor John Simpson said while a new armed conflict remained unlikely, Argentina was now using diplomatic weapons to push its claim over the Falklands.
The defeat of the Argentine forces led directly to the collapse of the military dictatorship led by Gen Leopoldo Galtieri, who was later jailed in Buenos Aires for "incompetence" during the war.
The British prime minister at the time was Margaret Thatcher, but she is not expected to play a part in the commemoration of the 30th anniversary because of ill-health.
The Falklands War
2 April: Argentine forces invade Falkland Islands. Other British South Atlantic territories including South Georgia are seized shortly afterwards
5 April: A British task force of more than 100 ships sets sail for the South Atlantic
25 April: South Georgia is recaptured by British forces.
2 May: Argentine cruiser General Belgrano sunk by HMS Conqueror, killing more than 320
21 May: Three thousand British troops begin landing at San Carlos on East Falkland
28-29 May: British forces recapture Goose Green.
8 June: British landing craft are bombed at Fitzroy, killing more than 50 men
13 June: Argentine positions on mountains overlooking the capital Port Stanley are taken
14 June: Argentine forces surrender. British troops march into Stanley
It must be accepted as a principle that the rifle, effective as it is, cannot replace the devastation produced on the enemy by the speed of the horse, the magnetism of the charge, and the terror of cold steel. - British Army Cavalry training manual 1907