A group of former Argentine soldiers who fought in the Malvinas War refused to join a march of veterans led by the Armed Forces Sunday to mark 200 years of the South American country’s independence, arguing that it would be an insult to victims of historical injustices to parade alongside torturers and human rights abusers.
“Today they’ve called us to march all together, together with those who tortured,” the Association of Malvinas Combatants for Human Rights wrote in a statement. “With those who humiliated soldiers in the war for being Jewish, for being Indigenous, or simply for the color of their skin, together with those responsible for famine, and those who fled from combat.”
The association also called for Argentina to investigate the “terrible human rights violations committed in the Malvinas against soldiers,” saying they remember the abuses and still have hope for justice.
Some 1,000 members of the armed forces marched in Buenos Aires on Sunday as part of bicentennial celebrations marking two centuries since Argentina declared its independence in 1816. The parade also included military delegations from 11 countries, including the U.S., which backed Argentina’s dictatorship-era “dirty war” against leftists as part of the regional Operation Condor.
Spectators at the parade shouted “Argentina, Argentina!” as veterans of the Malvinas War against the British who didn’t boycott the event passed by.
Argentina fought for the sovereignty of the Malvinas Islands in a historic 10-week battle in 1982 against the U.K., which seized the archipelago in 1833. Argentina lost, surrendering after 74 days of conflict that claimed the lives of 649 Argentine soldiers, over twice the death toll suffered by British forces, who lost 255.
President Mauricio Macri had written on his Twitter account that he did not plan on being at the military parade due to fatigue, but he ended up attending after all.
On Saturday, Macri headed other events to commemorate the bicentennial.