18 | 08 | 2019

The Venezuela solidarity programme organized by the World Peace Council (WPC) and the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) was held in Venezuela on 12th, 13th and 14th of this month. The National Organizer of Socialist Students’ Union (SSU) Comrade Rangana Devapriya and Comrade Kalpana Madhushani of SSU who also functions as the Vice-President of WFDY participated on behalf of the SSU. The Member of the Central Committee of the JVP and the Organizer of the JVP Committee in Italy Comrade Sudath Adhikari also participated representing the Peace and Solidarity Organization Sri Lanka (PASOS).

Comrade Rangana Devapriya and Comrade Sudath Adhikari and Comrade Kalpana Madhushani held talks with the leaders of the United Socialist Party in Venezuela and the Communist Party of Venezuela during their stay in Venezuela.

Statement from PASOS:

Sri Lanka – USA Military pacts that make Sri Lanka a backyard of the USA.

The PASOS Peace and Solidarity Organization Sri Lanka has been a watchdog of  Imperialist interferences and penetration in the South Asian region, especially in Sri  Lanka for years. We questioned, exposed and built a considerable awareness about  the ACSA Military Agreement which Sri Lanka signed with the USA secretly, even  without informing the Cabinet of ministers of the country during that period. We  were able to get the official copy of the agreement also after a political battle of 6  months.

When looking at the history of any country, we see the rulers of that country,  whatever the administration that existed, mediated to defend the sovereignty of the  country. For, defending sovereignty was a factor for the independence and pride of  the rulers. However, especially in this age of Imperialism which we are living in today, we see that the rulers of this country have betrayed the sovereignty of the land.  The Indo-Lanka pact of J.R. Jayewardene, Chandrika Bandaranayke’s US cooperation agreement, the US defense agreement of Mahinda Rajapaksa  government that was initiated by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, SLFTA- Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement with India, proposed Economic and Technical Cooperation  Agreement with India -ETCA and Sri Lanka–Singapore free trade agreement  (SLSFTA) are a few agreements that challenge our sovereignty. The US defence agreement has come to the limelight again as the present government is preparing to sign it with new agreements.

ACSA- Acquire and Cross Services Agreement

In March 2007 the Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa of the then Mahinda  Rajapaksa government and the American Ambassador signed a defence agreement. It  was to provide services for US troops by the Sri Lanka government. According to  this agreement, if the US was involved in any military action in the Asian region, the  government of Sri Lanka should provide all services required by US troops.  The agreement signed secretly by the then government violated the non-align  foreign policy Sri Lanka had already signed. The Rajapaksa government did not  reveal the signing of the agreement to the cabinet either. When the signing of the  agreement was exposed, the government, pointing out the then existing war situation,  stated the US agreement was important for the defence of Sri Lanka. However, in  the war with the LTTE, the US never extended any support to Sri Lanka. The  agreement was signed by then-defense secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and the US  Ambassador at that time Robert O. Blake. What is interesting is that both of them  were US citizens.

The agreement signed in 2007 expired after 10 years on 6th March 2017. A letter from the US embassy on 23rd February 2017 reminds the SL government that  the  agreement would expire. At that moment the People’s Liberation Front Lawmakers,  making a special statement, emphasized to the government not to extend the  agreement and Prime Minister promised the Parliament that the Parliament would be  informed if the agreement is extended. Despite this promise by the Prime Minister,  the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responding to the letter from the US Embassy, stated  they agree to the extending of the agreement. Prime Minister promises Parliament  that it would be informed if a decision is taken to extend the agreement even when it  had been agreed to extend the agreement. The US defence agreement has been  extended again without any consideration to the promise given by the Prime Minister  to Parliament. Also, it is the President as well as the Minister of Defense himself who  presents the cabinet paper on 30th June 2017 to extend the agreement. This  government has gone several steps beyond the previous agreement as the period of  the agreement was 10 years while the new agreement has not mentioned any time  limit. As such, they have signed an agreement to provide services to US troops for  eternity. In 2017, during the discussions to extend the agreement, it is reported that  the defence experts in Sri Lanka extensively pointed out the adverse effects of the  agreement.

SOFA-Status of Forces Agreement

There is also another agreement that includes several serious issues signed by the  government of Sri Lanka and the US Embassy. That is the SOFA agreement. Sri  Lanka had signed a SOFA agreement in 16th May 1995, which was not known to the  country until now. It only came to know when PASOS exposed the new attempt to  upgrade the SOFA. 

Several such issues among them are:

a) This agreement is regarding US military personnel, US military contractors,
US military suppliers, civilians attached to US Defense Department and those who
have been permitted by US Defense Department to engage in humanitarian and other
activities. the same perks and privileges granted to technical and administrative
officers of the US Embassy. The agreement also allows the above-mentioned
personnel to enter the country with only a US Government Issued ID card (without a
passport).
We quote 1) US personnel should be accorded the privileges, exemptions and
immunity equivalent to those accorded to the administrative and technical staff of a
diplomatic mission under the Vienna Convention.”
The US troops should be allowed to move about in Sri Lanka in their uniforms
and weapons.
2) The US personnel may enter and exit Sri Lanka with U.S. identification and
with collective movement or individual travel orders; that Sri Lanka shall accept as
valid all professional licenses issued by the United States, its political subdivisions,
or States.

The United States will exercise criminal jurisdiction over U.S. personnel while in
Sri Lanka which means they will not come under the law of the land.”
3) All these people should be allowed to bring in their personal property,
equipment, supply material, technical equipment and training equipment without any
customs inspection, taxes or any other obstructions.
“ vessels and vehicles operated by or, at the time, exclusively for the US
Department of Defense may enter, exit, and move freely within the territory of Sri
Lanka, and that such vehicles (whether self-propelled or towed) shall be exempt from
the payment of the time, exclusively for the U.S. Department of Defense shall not be
subject to the payment of landing, parking, or port fees, pilotage charges, lighterage,
and harbour dues at facilities owned and operated by the Government of Sri Lanka.
Aircraft owned and operated by or, at the time, exclusively for the U.S. Department
of Defense shall not be subject to payment of navigation, overflight, terminal or
similar charges when in the territory of Sri Lanka.
U.S. Department of Defense may contract for any material, supplies, equipment,
and services (including construction) to be furnished or undertaken in Sri Lanka
without restriction as to the choice of contractor, supplier, or person who provides
such material, supplies, equipment or services. Such contracts shall be solicited,
awarded and administered in accordance with the laws and regulations of the
Government of the United States of America. Acquisition of articles and services in
Sri Lanka by or on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense in connection with
activities under this Agreement shall not be subject to any taxes or similar charges in
Sri Lanka.
U.S. contractors shall not be liable to pay any tax or similar charge assessed within
Sri Lanka in connection with activities under this Agreement and that such
contractors may import into, export out of, and use in Sri Lanka any personal
property, equipment, supplies, material, technology, raining, or services in fulfillment
of contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense in connection with activities under
this Agreement. Such importation, exportation, and use shall be exempt from any
license, other restrictions, customs duties, taxes, or any other charges assessed within
Sri Lanka.
The Government of Sri Lanka recognizes that it may be necessary for the U.S.
Armed Forces to use the radio spectrum. The U.S. Department of Defense shall be
allowed to operate its own telecommunication system. This shall include the right to
utilize such means and services as required to ensure full ability to operate
telecommunication systems Use of the radio spectrum shall be free of cost to the U.S.
Government. “
4) When this agreement is implemented it would exceed the facilities made
available to US troops in the agreement signed on 16th May 1995.
Last week a large number of US goods entered the country without any customs
inspection or paying any customs duty reported several newspapers. This confirms
that the government has already enforced the agreement. What would be the position
if the agreement is implemented, US supplying camps are established and US troops,

who are not bound by the rules of the country, are let loose? Don’t we face the same
situation Okinawa is confronted with today?
According to the new agreement proposed by the US Embassy in Sri Lanka on
28th August 2018 , US troops, civilians attached to the US Defense Department, all
those who supply services for the war should be given the privileges, exemptions and
immunity equivalent to those accorded to the administrative and technical staff of
diplomatic missions under the Vienna Convention. Also, all of them should be
allowed to enter Sri Lanka without passports but only with an identity card. This is a
proposal to make Sri Lanka a backyard of the USA.
Generally, all the agreements contain reciprocal effects which allow both parties to
exercise the same rights and privileges. But SOFA agreements don’t contain this
feature as accepted by the Global Security Overview Panel report of the Pentagon.
Although the President of Sri Lanka or the Army Commander cannot enter the USA
only with an identity card, the US recruit who joins a defence service in the US today
could enter Sri Lanka merely by showing his or her identity card. Also, US soldiers
could roam about anywhere in Sri Lanka in their uniforms wielding any type of
weapon. Whatever crime they commit in Sri Lanka they are bound only by the US
law. Goods and services bought in Sri Lanka by US troops, individuals attached to
the US Department of Defense and anyone supplying services to the US military will
be exempted from tax. As such, import and export laws and regulations will not be
effective and they could import or export anything they like. The ships, aircrafts
brought to Sri Lanka by the US military cannot be inspected.
Where do these agreements known as ‘Acquisition and Cross-Servicing
Agreement’ (ACSA) and SOFA come from? This is an important question. Such
agreements have been signed with the mediation of NATO during the ‘cold war’
period for the USA to subdue various countries. NATO (North Atlantic Treaty
Organization) is a military organization. The agreement the US is signing with Sri
Lanka today are the types of agreements they had signed in the 1970s.
The USA is the only state that exists in the world that has been built as a military
empire. Currently, about 1200 US military camps have been established in 70
countries throughout the world. There are US military base camps in 20 countries.
The US has taken measures to sign a military agreement with about 130 countries.

The government of Sri Lanka would try to soft-pedal the issue by stating the
agreement is only for supplying fuel and water for the USA Army. However, the
truth is very far from it. What the USA does with such agreements is to bring the
country under its domination. As the first step, Sri Lanka signed the Acquisition and
Cross Service Agreement (ACSA). However, the status of forces agreement (SOFA)
is one that brings the other country under the domination of the USA further. What
is regrettable is that the puppet government of Sri Lanka is agreeing to such
agreements.
There are ample examples to show the arbitrary acquiring by the USA. After the
2nd world war, they have maintained military bases in Okinawa in Japan and in

Germany using the ‘States of Forces’ agreement (SOFA). In Okinawa, little girls too
have been raped by US troopers and murders have been committed. However, they
are not bound by the law in Japan. They come under US laws. Legal action against
them has to be taken by the US government but not by any Japanese legal institution.
Despite there have been massive protests by the Japanese masses, no legal action has
been taken against perpetrators.
The USA has signed 38 defence pacts in the Asian region alone. Diego Garcia is
being maintained as a colony of the US after evicting the masses who lived there.
However, A UN court has ruled the territory, which hosts a major US military base,
to be given back to Mauritius. However, the US and the British government have
ignored the ruling.
The long term lease agreement for Diego Garcia has expired. Now, they are
looking for a foothold in the region. Our country has been important to the world
from ancient times due to its strategically important position. In such a country, if
Hambantota Harbour is given to China, Mattala Airport to India(proposed) and
Trincomalee and the rest of the country to the USA to carry out its military agenda,
what value would it be left with? Don’t we then become a set of people living in a
colony who are unable to decide on the resources that exist in the country?
So as PASOS, we think we have to make full awareness about the grave nature of
these kinds of pacts to the Sri Lankan masses as well as to the people of other
countries who are facing similar problems. We think we must make a network among
the organizations who are fighting against military bases and agreements so that we
could share and learn from each other.
We must fight against all kinds of Imperialist agreements and interventions,
whether they are from the USA or Europe or even from so-called regional powers.
Unless we resist against such atrocities, peace, development and stability of our states
and the world, in general, will become never reaching dreams.

No to Imperialism! Yes to Sovereignty!
Long live solidarity among the Peoples!

Thank you,

Sudath Adikari,
Executive Committee member PASOS.
10 th April 2019.

Source:

People’s Liberation Front – JVP

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