The China Post news staff
Earlier this week, Britain was suspected of practicing double standards when it rejected Argentina’s renewed call for the return of the disputed Falkland Islands.
The islands, called Las islas Malvinas in Spanish, are an archipelago located in the South Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf off the coast of Argentina and have remained a British Overseas Territory since Britain re-established its rule in 1833 after the island group had changed hands many times among the colonial powers. Britain claims sovereignty over the Falklands, basing its position on continuous administration of the islands since 1833 and asserting that the islanders, mostly British, have a “right to self determination, including their right to remain British if that is their wish.” Argentina posits that it gained the Falkland Islands from Spain, upon becoming independent from it in 1816, and that the UK illegally occupied them in 1833 with overwhelming force, according to reports. In 1982, when Margaret Thatcher was British Prime Minister, Britain and Argentina fought a short but costly war for the control of the island group, which is said to be sitting on some unknown underground oil reserves. After the war, the islands remained in British. In an open letter addressed to British Prime Minister David Cameron and published as a paid advert in two British newspapers earlier this week, Argentine President Cristina Kirchner said the islands were “forcibly stripped” from Argentina 180 years ago today “in a blatant exercise of 19th-century colonialism.” “Since then, Britain, the colonial power, has refused to return the territories to the Argentine Republic, thus preventing it from restoring its territorial integrity,” she wrote. Britain, of course, flatly rejected Kirchner’s call, but its justifications do not sound quite right. Cameron’s official spokesman said on Thursday that the 3,000 residents of the South Atlantic archipelago “have a clear desire to remain British” and would have a chance to express their views in a referendum on their political status. A spokesman for the legislative assembly of the islands confirmed the vote would take place on March 10 and 11. It appears that the British are evading the crux of the matter, i.e. sovereignty over the island group and its underwater oil reserves by digressing to the question of self-determination.