Editor's Column June 24 - Lisa Watson
WHILE attendance at the C24 must feel like an annual exercise in heads and brick walls, the yearly requirement to produce a speech outlining our position is probably an invaluable (if dreary) undertaking.
OK so the meeting itself is our politicians’ equivalent of Ground Hog Day and the indifference with which their arguments are met by the majority of attendees, is probably trying. But as someone who has been obligated to read the speeches for close on 20 years it feels quite a heartening commentary, not only on our political and economic development, but our evolving perspective and state of mind. Many of the basic arguments haven’t changed ‘we’re not a colony’ ‘we’re not an implanted population’ ‘we deserve self determination’, but as time has gone on, we have become less denying and more asserting.
(According to PN we decided to start being more ‘robust’ about 2001). Now we use hard facts about our cultural diversity, our constitutional and political development and our economic successes. There just seems to be a whole lot less pleading and a lot more telling. We will never have much support from C24 members; our story doesn’t sit neatly enough with their guiding principles. We’re an untidy reminder of colonial history - something that prevents them from patting each other on the back, packing up and going home.
However I suppose we must continue the diplomatic dance, but if it’s any consolation, with our every passing year and expansion of independent conduct, we slip further away from any kind of easy classification by the C24. The more we move forward, the more obvious it is the Committee is entangled in its own outdated dogma.
I DO wonder how aware the visiting ICRC delegation is of its organisation’s reputation in the Falklands. The truth is they’ve never covered themselves with glory. 1982 surgeon Rick Jolly was less than complimentaryabout their conduct when they rocked up at Ajax Bay, and as Tim Miller points out in the Letters Page, Falklands civilians weren’t exactly dazzled
That said I think it only right we hear the delegation’s plans, and just as importantly impress on them our own questions and concerns. We need assurance not only of their neutrality as intermediaries but that they are absolutely certain about the wishes of the families of the Argentine fallen. If identified, should the parents wish to take the remains of their child home, then it must be allowed by the Argentine government. If they (and not the Argentine government) wish for the remains to stay then so be it - let’s respect that.
I hope that our treatment of this issue is not influenced by politics. If the Argentine government wishes to behave so that’s their choice, but there are no good arguments why we should behave similarly. And I don’t think we will.