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Solá with families of fallen soldiers and veterans: “Recovering identity is a sacred task”

Thursday, 18 March 2021
Information for the Press N°: 

After the signing of the agreement in Geneva on the second phase of the humanitarian initiative to identify the soldiers who gave their lives on the Malvinas Islands and who are buried in a mass grave identified as C1.10 in Darwin Cemetery, Foreign Minister Felipe Solá participated today in a meeting with the families of fallen soldiers and veterans, during which he highlighted the tasks carried out by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which is working on the identification.

Accompanied by the Secretary for the Malvinas, Antarctica and South Atlantic, Daniel Filmus, the Minister stated: “I am very proud of the work carried out. This becomes increasingly meaningful, and it grows more and more in our memories and hearts. ‘Sacrifice’ means ‘to make something sacred.’ That land is sacred land, and ‘sacrifice’ may express the extent of the meaning of recovering the identity of those who gave their lives, years on. The work carried out by President Alberto Fernández, the Argentine Team of Forensic Anthropology and those who work in Geneva and the Red Cross is sacred.”

“The efforts made are huge and we need the work to be completed because, although the families will never find complete peace, it is important that they feel they are not alone and that the soldiers be identified,” the Foreign Minister stated. He added that: “We are not going to step aside in our relationship with the UK, there will be no sovereignty umbrella. The issue is on the table, it is our mission and it has been our mission for a year. However, we are united by this issue and we have to do things well and quickly, and we promise to do it that way.”

“We are more than satisfied, and we will continue to peacefully fight for our rights, as mandated by the United Nations,” Solá concluded.

For his part, Filmus, the Secretary for the Malvinas, Antarctica and South Atlantic stated: “We highlight the State policy carried out by Argentina through this agreement since 2012, which transcends governments and, after many years of waiting, enabled 115 families to identify and honour their loved ones, who gave their lives in order to recover the exercise of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands.”

In the same humanitarian spirit of the first phase, which began in 2012, these agreements are intended to identify the remains of soldiers who rest in mass grave C.1.10 in the Malvinas Islands Darwin Cemetery.

The agreements were signed at the ICRC headquarters by the Ambassador to the International Organisations in Geneva, Federico Villegas, on behalf of Argentina, and by his British counterpart and the President of the ICRC, Peter Maurer. An agreement establishing a new Humanitarian Project Plan with the legal framework and all the technical details of the forensic work required was also signed between the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The identification work in mass grave C.1.10 in Darwin Cemetery is expected to begin in August. This grave had been excluded from the scope of the Humanitarian Project Plan carried out in 2017 because it was not an anonymous grave. The plaque put up in 2004 bore the name of Julio Ricardo Sánchez, Second Lieutenant of the Argentine Gendarmerie, and of Air Force soldiers Héctor Aguirre, Luis Sevilla and Mario Luna. After collecting DNA samples of relatives of the three soldiers, in 2018 it was found that their remains were actually buried in three individual graves under a plaque that read "Argentine Soldier Known Only unto God". This finding evidenced the need to ascertain the identity of the remains buried in grave C1.10.

This event is the continuation of a State policy that builds on the work undertaken by the Federal Government in 2012, when it requested the collaboration of the International Committee of the Red Cross in order to identify 122 graves of Argentine soldiers buried in Darwin Cemetery and formed a roundtable made up of the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Justice, the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, the General Government Notary’s Office and the Ministry of Social Development. The first humanitarian initiative concluded succesfully. 115 soldiers were identified, thereby giving an answer to many families who longed to know the exact resting place of their loved ones.

Solá Malvinas