US in Sri Lanka since 2015 – turning Sri Lanka into a Neo-Colonial Military Base
by Shenali Waduge
Ever since a regime change was choreographed in 2015 January, the US has been using its lackeys in government to exert tremendous influence in 3 areas – Sri Lanka‘s economy, Sri Lanka‘s Parliament and Sri Lanka‘s armed forces. Based on media articles, press releases and whatever other information has been made available to the public, an overview of the extent to which Sri Lanka’s sovereignty has been compromised can be deduced. Sri Lanka is a sovereign nation and Sri Lanka must uphold that sovereign status. Any new government must understand the fundamentals of what it means to be sovereign and ensure national policy is drafted to ensure that and for any gain that sovereignty is not compromised.
1950s – United States Information Service (USIS) set up cultural centers in Colombo, Kandy and Jaffna (objective to instill “American values” among Sri Lankans – 5 live concerts also held
1951 – US-Ceylon agreement for Voice of America station to broadcast to all of Asia
1952 – US- Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission founded – scholarships awarded for postgraduate studies to US
1956 – US objects to Rubber-Rice pact with China (which JRJ opposed too) & cuts off aid as punishment. US forced France, Italy & Japan to withhold supply of Sulphur fungicide needed for rubber plantations.
1950s – when Sri Lanka sought Rs.50 aid US refused
1977 – President Jayawardene permitted US naval ships to enter Trincomalee and wanted to give the Trincomalee oil tanks to America. Voice of America started to broadcast from Iranawila.
2004 – US tried to persuade Sri Lanka to sign US Tropical Forestry Conservation Act of 1998 (claiming to reduce debt by allowing a committee of representatives from US & INGOs to manage forest – if signed US would control our forest assets, have exclusive access to our medicinal plants) heavy protests stopped signing of agreement.
US support to Tamil separatism
US envoy James Spain told Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister not to refuse India’s Indo-Lanka Agreement (Izeth Hussein)
“We were hounded & intimidated by the US to stop the war against the LTTE” (envoy N. Godage)
US used satellites to spy on Sri Lanka during final conflict to incriminate them for war crimes
US allegedly tried to rescue trapped Prabakaran using US ship in May 2009.
US did not expect LTTE to be annihilated. US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations sent 2 Senators to Sri Lanka in Nov 2009 – they reported – Rajapakse was a threat to US as he was drifting towards China. US was advised to adopt a ‘less confrontational approach’.
ANTI-US sentiments has a background
USA has supported dictators like Pinochet, Marcos, Suharto, Somoza, Pol pot.
Both Saddam Hussein & Osama Bin Laden were former CIA agents
US has been involved directly/indirectly covertly/overtly in coups, invasions, regime change, election interferences etc.
US was the only country to drop the atomic bomb twice (on Japan) and used chemical agent Orange in Vietnam which continues to disable Vietnam children. 5
US is part of the secretive intelligence alliance called – “FIVE EYES” (UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, US) Singapore also partners with them.
The 5 Eyes became 9 Eyes with Denmark, France, Holland, Norway joining. Then 14 Eyes with Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain & Sweden joining.
US & Asia / China’s Maritime Silk Route
US interests were on the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, South East Asia (5 out of 7 US security alliances are with Asia-Pacific countries / defense pacts with 69 countries which account for 75% of world economy)
With China’s focus on Indian Ocean, the strategic location of Sri Lanka came into play as Sri Lanka had the ability to control or impede free flow of resources to & from China. Half the world’s container traffic passes Sri Lanka. US needed a weak Sri Lanka to dominate & force its presence.
US & Yahapalana (themes used: US committed to peace, reconciliation, accountability)
Immediately after overthrowing Rajapakse govt US indicated its role in regime change.
John Kerry Secretary of State arrived in May 2015 “Your country sits at the crossroads of Africa, South Asia, and East Asia. The Indian Ocean is the world’s most important commercial highway. And with its strategic location near deep-water ports in India and Myanmar, Sri Lanka could serve as the fulcrum of a modern and dynamic Indo-Pacific region….. The US could play a leadership role in making this happen”.
Regime Change in Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Burma cost $585 from US Complex Crisis Fund (CCF) of which USAID gave $3.4m to Yahapalana’s 100 day program.
Yahapalana visits to US
Jun2016 – PM Ranil paid a quiet visit to New York – reason given to the Sri Lanka public was that Wickremesinghe was visiting New York for medical purposes – he went to meet two officials from the White House. PM Ranil also addressed the United Nations Ocean Conference & you cannot address a conference without it being planned ahead.
Sept 2016 – Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to Washington to sign agreement with J. Roskam, Chairman House Democracy Partnership, of House of Representatives.
Sept2018 – Sagala Ratnayake Minister of Youth Affairs and Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister visited USA & met Thornberry, also Ted Yoho, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, as well as senior officials of the National Security Council, the Department of State, the Department of Defence, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
Visits of US officials to Sri Lanka
- 2014 – Stephen J. Rapp , the US Ambassador on War Crimes – Rapp heads the Office of Global Criminal Justice at the US State Department.
- July, August, December 2015 – Nisha Biswal, US Assistant Secretary for South Asian Affairs
- July 2015 -Tom Malinowsky US Assistant Secretary for Democracy & Human Rights
- November 2015– Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN
- December 2015 -Thomas Shannon Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
- Jul2016 – Nisha Biswal, Assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian Affairs, had visited Sri Lanka six times by July 2016
- Feb2017 – US House of Representative delegation (3days) part of House Democracy Partnership (HDP) program in which 20member US House of Representatives work directly with partner countries. 8-member delegation from Democrats & Republicans. US signed a Collaboration Agreement with Sri Lanka’s Parliament on 14 September 2016 in Washington.
- March2017 – US Congress delegation visits Hambantota Port & Yala National Sanctuary. US Sri Lanka sign 2 programs –
- Aug2017 – Alice Wells US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs meets government officials, business leaders and civil society representatives. She joins candlelight vigil at Vihara Maha Devi Park, to mark the UN Day of the victims of Enforced Disappearances accompanied by US Ambassador in Colombo Atul Keshap & joined by the top representatives of the Tamil National Alliance
- Sept2017 – Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Mark Linscott to ask SL Govt to implement policies that will increase trade and improve the business climate he wanted 1 year resident visa for foreigners changed to 3 years.
- Sept2017 – Alice Wells Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, told a Congressional Sub Committee, the US was seriously concerned over “unsustainable debt burden on Sri Lanka due to non-concessional loans from China” US was the largest grant provider of assistance channeled primarily to NGOs working to the US agenda
- 2017 – Rear Admiral Donald D. Gabrielson, of the US Navy, declared at the Galle Dialogues that every country should be cautious when working with China for want of transparency in certain engagements.
- 2017 – 5 member USAID team led by Davnie Eston arrived to map out how USAID could collaborate on ventures of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce including working with private sector.
- Feb2019 – Thomas J. Vajda US Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State dealing with South and Central Asia
- May 2019 – former envoy Robert Blake visits Sri Lanka
- June 2019 – US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo but last minute visit was cancelled due to public uproar over US controversial pacts
- October 2019 – US State Dept holds ‘Human Rights in South Asia” hearing on Burma and Congressman Brad Sherman announced they would focus on human rights situation in Sri Lanka too.
US funding projects to realign their agenda in Sri Lanka
- $135m for Youth Empowerment grants covering over 100 programs since 2010 (leadership training / advancing ‘rights of marginalized communities’
- US Senate Committee sought $43m ($35m economic support fund / $6.8m non-proliferation and anti-terrorism & $500,000 in foreign military financing and $500,000 for training military personnel
- US plan was to work with YOUTH, use civil society groups (indirectly to create subversive groups)
- $1m for 2 projects – strengthen media / reconciliation identifying youth & women
- 2016 -$13.7m by USAID to 8 civil society organization to ‘strengthen accountability & good governance) (SDGAP) administered by private US company – Development Alternative Inc (DAI) – a CIA front’ Office of Transition Initiatives(OTI). DAI is set up to destabilize governments. SDGAP project is not subject to Sri Lankan law but to the laws and regulations of the US. SDGAP does not come under the purview of Sri Lanka’s Auditor General. DAI also plans to ‘engage’ with the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration (Public Service) Note: SDGAP also implemented in Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Haiti, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Macedonia and Mongolia. USAID STAIR program in AG’s dept (project claiming to reform public financial management)
- 2016 – US plan to provide aid to Jayawardenapura University to document historical buildings in Galle Fort. Cheryl Edison arrived in 2017 & was holding free classes for representatives from ICTA – SLASSCOM and held seminars for University students from Jayawardenapura & University of Jaffna.
- 2017 – Youth Climate Summit funded by US embassy
- Feb2017 – Mojo, an American band arrive on a U.S. Embassy sponsored visit – public performances in Jaffna and Colombo; workshops for music students; and master classes for Sri Lankan musicians.
- 3m aid offered for flood victims – disaster experts from USAIDOFDA and Civil Military Support Element attached to US embassy also involved.
- Sri Lanka to receive only US$ 3.38 million for its USAID programmes in 2018, a drop of 92% percent from 2016
- March2017 – 2 programs signed “Strengthened Partnership for Democratic Reform & Social Integration” & “Increased & Equitable Growth and Public Financial Management”
- 23 Aug2019 – The Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade together with the USAID-SAIL project hosted a Public-Private Dialogue (PPD) on Global Trade for businessman in Kandy District at Hotel Suisse, Kandy.
Other notable CIA fronts include
International Republican Institute (IRI),
National Endowment for Democracy (NED),
National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI),
These organizations transfer US funds to opposition parties and other pro-American groups in countries of strategic interest, using the pretext of ‘promoting democracy’.
The OTI’s charter is to finance civil society groups (NGOs) for use in their subversive activities including regime change in strategically important nations with governments unwilling to succumb to US dictates.
US & USAID INTERFERENCE in Sri Lanka (YOUTH – WOMEN TARGETS)
5-member USAID team led by Davnie Eston arrived in 2017 and mapped out ways and means in which USAID could collaborate on ventures of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. “We are empowered to work with the private sector” said USAID.
USAID was asked to improve the soft skills of Lanka Sathosa personnel
Sept2017 – U.S. Department of State’s Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) Program and the World Customs Organization (WCO) trained 34 Customs Officials from Sri Lanka in strategic trade controls
October2017 – USAID & business leaders and Sri Lankan Government launched the $12m ‘You Lead’. a new employability and skills development project to create a more market-oriented, skilled and flexible youth workforce (ages 16 to 35). You Lead’s regional focus is on the provinces with the highest youth unemployment, Sabaragamuwa, Central, Southern and Northern Provinces.
USAID “YouLead” program and Microsoft Sri Lanka signed a partnership to launch the new $12m “YouthWorks” information technology portal at the Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training in Colombo).
YouLead is implemented by the International Executive Service Corps (IESC) and administered by the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA).
YouLead will work with Microsoft, the Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training, and the private sector to develop and upload content for the YouthWorks portal in Sinhala, Tamil and English. The portal is currently being used in 18 countries
Mar2018 – U.S. Embassy launched American Innovation Hub (iHub) in partnership with the Matara District Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The iHub is located in the Matara Chamber of Commerce building. The iHub offers thematic programs, all free of charge, and a selection of U.S. books and DVDs. It is intended to promote English language learning, encourage study in the United States, and introduce the local community to American culture and values. (American English – American VALUES!)
The U.S. Embassy also has American Spaces in Colombo, Kandy and Jaffna. These locations offer books, DVDs, English language programs, entrepreneurship programs, U.S. speakers, and more.
2017 USAID funded a project for more female representation in local government bodies.
Harvard Centre for International Development (HCID) helping Sri Lanka to attract foreign direct investments (FDIs) promoting emerging exports, targeting new non-existent industries, identifying and engaging with potential new investors, fixing the investment climate for new emerging industries and figuring out how to create new tourist destinations.
BOI staff receiving training programmes conducted by Harvard University’s Centre for International Development, McKinsey Consulting and the World Bank Group.
USAID funding project in Election Commission with Vasu Mohan being a paid member
US EMBASSY INTERFERING IN SRI LANKA’S ELECTIONS
US intervened in Presidential Elections in Jan2010 and Jan2015
Former US Envoy Michelle Sisson openly talking politics at embassy functions – she had insisted that the candidate to challenge Mahinda Rajapaksa should not be a UNP candidate but a common candidate
US Senate Dept finance report (2016) – US invested $585m in 2015 for regime change in Myanmar, Sri Lanka & Nigeria under ‘Democracy, Human Rights & Governance’. US focus was to partner with civil society, citizen’s movements, faith leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators.
USAID had given $3.4m to Yahapalana’s 100-day program from the US Complex Crisis Fund (Hassina Leelaratne – America’s Freedom of Information Act)
US INTERFERING IN SRI LANKA’S CONSTITUTION
MP Keheliya Rambukwella said ‘there is no point in debating the interim report of the Constitutional Assembly Steering Committee as the final draft of the new constitution has already been prepared by the US and given to the government. A group of Sri Lankan MPs including me visited the US recently. We were attending a Congress meeting on Sri Lankan affairs. David Price, a US Congressman, told us that the “US had prepared the final draft of the new constitution and sent it to the Sri Lankan government” Price said almost everybody had accepted the draft except a bunch led by Mahinda Rajapaksa.
US interfering in Sri Lanka’s Parliament
- House Democracy Partnership (a bipartisan, twenty-member commission of the U.S. House of Representatives) of the US House of Representatives launched a Collaboration Agreement with the Parliament of Sri Lanka. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya signed for Sri Lanka. The purpose was to strengthen partnership between the two legislatures – exchange of information on the legislative systems of each country, sharing knowledge, and offering consultations on effective legislative management; and cooperating and assisting each other through training programs for the members and staff of the legislatures. The program is operating in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Colombia, Georgia, Haiti, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Macedonia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Peru, Timo-Leste and Ukraine.
- US-Sri Lanka Open Government Partnership (Oct2015)
Sri Lanka is the only South Asian participating country in the OGP.
To be eligible for OGP governments must demonstrate commitment to open government principles in – Fiscal Transparency, Access to Information, Income and Asset Disclosures, and Citizen Engagement.
Sri Lanka is supposed to have scored 14 of a total of 16 points.
The NGOs involved in the OGP in Sri Lanka – Center for Policy Alternatives, (CPA) International center for Ethnic studies (ICES), Sarvodaya, Transparency International, Management Development Centre and Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA).
- ‘Strengthening Democratic Governance and Accountability Project’ (SDGAP) a $13.7m project for the reform of Sri Lanka’s public sector. US has selected Development Alternatives, Inc (DAI) of Maryland, to implement the project.
DAI would work closely with Sri Lanka’s Parliament, Independent Commissions and related ministries.
USAID allocated $3 million for project in September 2016 and the program was launched in November 2016.
SDGAP was subject to the laws and regulations of the United States, with oversight from USAID’s Office of Inspector General.
SDGAP claims to help GOSL increase transparency, accountability, good governance, strengthen systems and processes for public accountability & policy development.
June2019 – Prasad Kariyawasam was appointed by Parliament as an International Affairs advisor to the Speaker – first time a Speaker has had such an advisor and such a position did not exist in the list of officials in Parliament while being paid by a foreign country. Speaker Karu admitted that Kariyawasam was paid by DAI – Development Alternatives Institute (a CIA front) & implementing agency for USAID. DAI is paying the salaries of Prasad Kariyawasam and G. Hettiarachchi former Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration.
DAI had given Rs.2000m for Parliamentary Diplomacy program which funds MPs for ‘study tours’ overseas.
Due to objections in July 2019 Speaker Karu informed that Prasad Kariyawasam’s salary would be paid by Parliament funds reconfirming he was paid by foreign funding.
PrasadK had also arranged to have ambassadors of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries to meet Speaker Karu though this task has to be done by Foreign Ministry or Foreign Secretary. The IGP and Intelligence chief was also summoned by the Speaker, another first. How can PrasadK run a parallel operation which should be done by the Foreign Ministry?
- US / Sri Lanka Partnership Dialogue – strengthen and enhance bilateral relations in the widest sense.
US INTERFERING IN PUBLIC SECTOR – National Labor Advisory Committee (NLAC)
July2017 – Govt informs decision to appoint World Group on Labor Law Reforms proposed by Ministry of Development Strategies & International Trade in collaboration with USAID. Trade Unions objected claiming the Ministry nor USAID had any right to intervene in reforming labor laws in Sri Lanka.
US INTERFERENCE IN SRI LANKA’S LAW & ORDER
US State Department Special Project made provision for a Resident Legal Advisor in Colombo to provide anti-corruption and asset recovery training and also support the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption (CIABOC)
(The Global Forum on Asset Recovery: Assistance for Combating Corruption in Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and Ukraine)
US PEACE CORPS IN SRI LANKA
Feb2018 Yahapalana signed an agreement with the US to re-establish a US Peace Corps programme in Sri Lanka. first 25 American Peace Corps Volunteers to arrive in late 2019 and undergo three months of comprehensive cultural, language and technical training before they are given their assignments to serve for two years. Peace Corp volunteers will focus on supporting the Education Ministry, schools, and community groups in coordination with the Sri Lankan English Teachers’ Association. They will be given diplomatic privileges The Diplomatic Privileges Act provisions have been invoked to accord equitable treatment to the Volunteers and persons performing functions under contract with the Peace Corps and their dependents. Government will provide to the Peace Corps the same exemptions with respect to taxes on payments that they receive to defray their living costs, on income derived from their officials duties, and on income from other sources outside Sri Lanka; customs duties or other charges on their personal property introduced into Sri Lanka for their own use; and all other taxes or other charges (including immigration/visa fees), except licence fees as provided to members of the administrative and technical staff of the Embassy of the United States in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
GOSL will exempt all taxes (including value-added taxes) customs duties, and other charges all equipment, supplies, and other goods and services introduced into or acquired in Sri Lanka by the US Government or any contractor financed by it, for use to enable the US Government to discharge its responsibilities under this agreement.
GOSL will exempt such persons, members of their families forming part of their households who are not citizens or permanent residents of Sri Lanka from all taxes or income derived from their Peace Corps work or other sources outside Sri Lanka, from all customs duties and other charges on their personal property introduced into Sri Lanka for their own use, and from all other taxes or other charges (including immigration/visa fees) except license fees.
Why is America arriving to teach English to remote Sri Lanka so close to elections?
US Peace Corps was in Sri Lanka from 1962-64 / 1967-70 / 1983-1998
PM Sirimavo Bandaranaiake kicked them out after she became PM in 1970. They came back with every UNP govt.
US Peace Corps evolved from a CIA Front known as International Voluntary Services Inc. (IVS), during war against Vietnam. The US Peace Corps has been expelled from a number of countries for spying for the CIA and covert activities, meddling in local politics, and running drugs.
In September 2017, Cambodia’s Prime Minister demanded the withdrawal of the US Peace Corps for conspiring with the opposition leader Kem Sokha to overthrow his government.
In 1965, Indonesia ordered US Peace Corps out after 16 months.
In 1966, Guinea asked PCs to leave.
In 1967, Mauritania asked PCs to leave.
Pakistan and India also refused to renew approval of PC projects in their countries in the early 1970s.
Burkina Faso Peace Corps programme was closed in 2017
US INTERFERENCE IN SRI LANKA’S MILITARY
US-Sri Lanka Military Collaborations
- 2002 – US Pacific Command team invited to report on the Sri Lanka armed forces
- 2012 US officials in Colombo meet business executives representing companies importing/exporting to/from US. The US embassy wanted regular feedback about security related matters in SL. The meeting was sponsored by the Overseas Security Advisory Council of the US State Department which looked after US business interest.
- 2015 – Sri Lanka Marine Corps set up
- 2016 – Head of the US Pacific Command Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr. even attended the Sri Lanka Navy’s Galle Dialogue 2016.
- US 7th fleet in Trincomalee – held joint public concerts at the Galle Fort, Tangalle City Centre, Hambantota Beach Park, Bata Atha Agro Park, Matara Beach Park and several schools. Pacific Partnership team attended a pinkama at Ambalantota Sunadararamaya.
- Mar2016 – USS Blue Ridge (first US ship to arrive) arrived with over 900 sailors (many felt Sri Lanka was being turned into another Philippines by US)
- Jul2016– USS New Orleans visited
- Aug2016 – 1st US-SL operational level bilateral defense dialogue
- Aug2016 -US war ship USS Frank Cable, a submarine tender vessel
- Aug2016 – US Pacific commands Operation Pacific Angels stayed a week in Jaffna providing medical care to 4000 people and renovating 6 schools.
- Nov2016 – Theatre Security Cooperation (TSC) project with Sri Lankan Navy’s newly formed marine force & US 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
- Dec2016 – US navy Poseidon aircraft, an advanced US maritime patrol aircraft, left Mattala
- Jan2017 – US guided missile destroyer USS Hopper arrived on a goodwill visit
- March2017 – USS ‘Comstock’ arrived for a four-day training workshop at Colombo harbor. ‘USS Comstock’ is part of the 7th fleet. This is the third such military-to-military exchange between U.S. Sailors and Marines and their Sri Lankan counterparts in the past 12 months, the authorities observed, ‘and this will form the basis of further cooperation between our militaries.’
- Mar2017 – USNS ‘Fall River’ a transport ship of U.S. Pacific Fleet arrived in Port of Hambantota to engage in the first Pacific Partnership goodwill mission. Chief of US Pacific Fleet, Rear Admiral Gabrielson said Sri Lanka was selected as the first of four nations for the 2017 Pacific Partnership programme because Sri Lanka government had made the request. The Pacific Partnership medical teams will join Sri Lankan doctors and nurses for training at the General Hospital and Nurses Training School in Hambantota, the Tissamaharama Base Hospital and other local clinics and hospitals. Free public medical and dental clinics in select cities. Some 325 US marines were in Sri Lanka.
- May2017 – Officers of the US 7th Fleet and Sri Lanka Navy met for 2nd time at the Naval Headquarters – US wants to establish base in Trinco for its 7th fleet (Island newspaper Sept2015)
- Jun2017 – 33 US army cadets from US Army Reserve Officers Training Corps arrive on familiarization tour visiting SL Military Academy, SF HQ, SL Light Infantry HQ, Regimental HQ of SL Engineers, Army School of Artillery at Minneriya
- 2017 -Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka (INSSSL) briefed a delegation from the Young Alakai Warriors of the U.S. Army Pacific on Security Challenges of Sri Lanka in the Next Decade”
- Oct2017 Sri Lanka included to Cooperation Afloat Readiness & Training (CARAT) exercise in Trinco by US Navy & Marines.
- Oct2017 – A Group of US ships visit – warship USS Nimitz, cruiser USS Princeton, destroyers USS Howard, USS Shoup, USS Pinckney, USS Kidd. USS Nimitz is one of the world’s largest war ships – 23 stories high and 333meters long and accommodating 5000 US Marines. It was parked 150 nautical miles off Colombo.
- Oct2017 – 3rd Annual Colombo Air Symposium United States Air Force Major General James Eifet called for increased partnership and information sharing among nations in the Indo-Pacific region in the face of a nuclear threat from North Korea. Eifet castigated China over its claims in the South China Sea
- Galle Dialogue 2017 – Admiral Scott Swift, Pacific Fleet Commander expressed desire to expand military relations.
- Galle Dialogue 2017 Rear Admiral Donald D. Gabrielson, of the US Navy, declared that every country should be cautious when working with China for want of transparency in certain engagements.
- April2018 – A 17-member delegation of the United States Land Forces in the Pacific Command arrived in Sri Lanka for participation in ‘Land Forces Pacific Programme’ sessions.
- 25April2018 – The U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS “Mercy” arrived in Trincomalee to conduct the 2018 Pacific Partnership mission.” Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. Personnel from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Peru, and Japan took part. USNS Mercy” contains 12 fully-equipped operating rooms, a 1,000 bed hospital facility, digital radiological services, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, an optometry lab, a CAT-scan and two oxygen producing plants. The ship is equipped with a helicopter deck capable of landing large military helicopters. The team successfully completed a cholecystectomy, or gall bladder removal, on a Sri Lankan citizen using a Da Vinci XI Robot Surgical System. This was the first time I have ever operated aboard a ship,” said Dr. Vyramuthu Varanitharan, a general surgeon at the Muttur Base Hospital. They also treated over 5,500 patients conducting medical clinics at various locations in and around Trincomalee in addition to over 500 veterinary surgeries and vaccinations. “From medical clinics to free public concerts, our sailors will bring the best of America to local communities,”
- During the ship’s stay, USN doctors along with Lankan doctors performed 24 varying surgeries onboard, out of which the robotic surgery performed onboard was the 1st in the world.
- Jun2018 – Sri Lanka participated for the 1st time in biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) maritime exercise 2018 held in Hawaii and Southern California in June 2018.,
- Jun2018 Army Commander Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake attended the US Army’s ‘LANPAC Symposium and Exposition’, organized by the Institute of Land Warfare in Honolulu, Hawaii. The theme was ‘The Future of Land Force Integration; Multilateral Approaches across the Indo-Pacific’. Army Commander called on US Army Commanding General, Pacific Command, General Robert B. Brown and discussed matters relating to continuing defence cooperation. Senanayake was also among the invitees to a special banquet, hosted by General Brown. Lieutenant General Senanayake’s retinue to Hawaii included Military Assistant to the Army Commander Colonel K.A.A. Udaya Kumara and Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) Warrant Officer I.W.M.S.P. Wijesinghe, perhaps for the first time in the Army history in a Commander’s entourage”.
- US Air Force Airmen from across the Indo-Pacific met with their Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) counterparts at the SLAF Headquarters in Colombo. According to Maj. Gen. Eifert the engagement was very successful.
- June2018 – Geoffrey F. Gresh, Department Head of International Security Studies – National Defense University in Washington, D.C and Associate Professor at the College of International Security Affairs (CISA), paid a courtesy call on Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Admiral Ravindra C. Wijegunaratne. He was accompanied by LTC Douglas Hess, Defense attache, US Embassy.
- Aug2018 Amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23), and 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived at Trincomalee Port
- Apri2019 – last joint US-SL naval exercise “Cooperation afloat readiness and training exercise CARAT) saw participation of 2 US shops (USS Spruance & USS Millinocket) & SLNS Sayurala & SLNS Samudra participated.
- US embassy also wanted to have display of US Air Force aircraft in Colombo with an air parade over Galle Face Green but was disproved by the Foreign Ministry
US-India partnership to curtail China. US has even created a new region – ‘Indo-Asia-Pacific Region’, which includes the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.
Jun2016 Joint trilateral military exercise US-India-Japan
2016 US-India signed agreement allowing use of each other’s land, air, naval bases for repair & resupply.
2016 US-India military exercises near Indo-Sino border
US National Defense Authorization Act 2017 recognizes India as a major US defense partner
Joint Naval Exercises
May 2018, delegation from the House Armed Services Committee of the U.S. Congress visited. The House Armed Services Committee, a standing committee of the United States House of Representatives, is a powerful Committee, responsible for the supervision of armed forces and the Department of Defense. The delegation was led by its Chairman Mac Thornberry and US embassy arranged for them to meet civil society organizations and TNA privately.
June/Aug2018 – The world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise (Rim of the Pacific – RIMPAC) took place in the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California
Jul2018 – visit of US Army’s Pacific Region Head Gen. Robert B. Brown
Jul2018 The Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) exercise inaugurated at the Special Boat Squadron Training School (SBSTS) in Trincomalee.
Jul2018 – third KDU-CNA Track 1.5 Dialogue on Naval at the Faculty of Graduate Studies, General Sir John Kotelawala Defense University (KDU). Discussing collaborative initiative between KDU and the Center for Naval Analysis (CNA), USA, facilitating interaction between the navies of Sri Lanka and the United States, along with the participation of relevant academics.
Aug2018 – United States to provide nearly $300 million in security assistance to improve security relationships across the Indo-Pacific region, including Sri Lanka announced Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo at the ASEAN Regional Forum
Bay of Bengal Initiative launched – United States to ‘work with other partners in the Bay of Bengal, including Bangladesh
Aug2018 U.S. Department of State announced approximately $39 million in Foreign Military Financing for Sri Lanka, pending Congressional approval
Aug2018 – The U.S. Coast Guard handed over a high endurance cutter, formerly the USCGC Sherman, to the Sri Lankan Navy
Aug2018 a joint humanitarian assistance mission called Pacific Angel, sponsored by US Pacific Command (USPACOM) at the Alagalla School in Vavuniya to provide humanitarian civic assistance and carry out civil-military operations in the Pacific region,
Air Logistics Hub concept using Sri Lanka’s strategic location to ensure the quick availability of relief supplies, equipment and other material when needed by the US and partner militaries and humanitarian organizations.
US INTERFERING IN SRI LANKA’S ECONOMY
US-Sri Lanka & Economy
25% of our exports go to US and 70% of that is garments.
Jan2016 – 3 year plan revealed at Sri Lanka Economic Forum by team led by Harvard University academic Ricardo Haussmann funded by Open Society Foundation head George Soros. (locals highlighted its dangers)
June2018 – US Dept of Agriculture with GOSL launched Market-Oriented Dairy Project to strengthen and grow SL’s dairy sector. The 4.5-year, US$14.1 million initiative is implemented by US-based International Executive Service Corps.
STATUS OF FORCES AGREEMENT (SOFA)
1995 US-SL sign agreement regarding status of US military personnel & civilian employees of the Department of Defense. SOFA seeks to update 1995 agreement to include Annex B.
Jul2019 PM Ranil announced in Parliament that Govt was negotiating a fresh military deal with US replacing 1995 SOFA giving US military easier access to Sri Lanka.
US embassy Colombo sent new draft SOFA – a 5page document dated 28 Aug 2018 to Foreign Secretary Prasad Kariyawasam who initiated discussions with support of Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera. Discussions was between only US embassy & Foreign Ministry and excluded Ministry of Defense. The US draft claimed that the acceptance of the US draft by the Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs constituted ‘acceptance’ of the GOSL as disclosed to a select local media by the US embassy Public Affairs Office.
President Sirisena responded by recalling Prasad Kariyawasam who returned on 31 Oct 2018 and SOFA was put on hold though negotiations continued.
May2019 – SOFA was listed for discussions at the SL-US Partnership Dialogue in Washington at which new Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana & US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed. Marapana sought to change 2 clauses – diplomatic immunity for US troops in Sri Lanka & subjecting all actions to US laws.
Jun2019 – President Sirisena declared he was against proposed SOFA & would not accept military agreements with US including SOFA. President Sirisena phoned Marapana in Washington & asked not to sign SOFA without his approval.
SOFA puts Sri Lanka’s independence, territorial integrity & freedom of action at stake. Treaty once signed is binding. The Agreement provides diplomatic immunity for US troops & contractors and employees of US armed forces.
DANGERS OF SIGNING SOFA for SRI LANKA
(Sri Lanka Abdicating its Sovereignty & US legally invading Sri Lanka)
- Sri Lanka transformed into a US military facility – Signing SOFA means US does not require setting up a military base in Trincomalee because US has been given access to entire island. US will be using Sri Lanka’s territory as a permanent transit point for military activities.
- A virtual ‘separate state’ as US troops/officials/staff will run a defacto rule with US laws not abiding by Sri Lanka laws. Sri Lankan Govt, Parliament, Judiciary, Armed Forces, Police will have no control over US troops/contractors/employees in Sri Lanka
- American men/women and anyone working for America (individually or collectively) US troops wearing uniform will be able to enter / leave / remain /use their vehicles/vessels/aircrafts in any part of Sri Lanka and carry their weapons. US civil & armed personnel will be able to move anywhere across the island and be above Sri Lankan laws. US armed forces & civilian personnel will be governed by US laws not Sri Lankan laws but they will enjoy privileges, exemptions & immunities that even Sri Lanka’s President, Mahanayake Theros, Sri Lanka’s Judges or Generals do not have.
- US Defense Dept is also authorized to construct buildings and not be subject to any local taxes. Property / equipment, supplies, material, technology training will all be exempt from license, restrictions, customs duties, taxes or any charges within Sri Lanka.
- US Defense Dept is also authorized to construct buildings and not be subject to any local taxes. Property / equipment, supplies, material, technology training will all be exempt from license, restrictions, customs duties, taxes or any charges within Sri Lanka.
- Dept of Defense will be allowed to operate its own telecommunications systems. Use of radio spectrum will be functioning in parallel to Sri Lanka’s communication systems.
- The US list of contractors is open-ended and includes all contractors/their employees signed with the US Defense Dept in the future.
US envoy to Sri Lanka called SOFA the ‘Visiting Forces Agreement’ however Visiting Forces Act (VFA) of 1949 empowers Sri Lanka’s Head of State to declare emergencies & receive emergency assistance but there was red tape before allowing foreign forces into the country.
As per 1949 VFA US troops & civilian components in Sri Lanka were not subject to Sri Lankan criminal or civil laws.
There is no emergency in Sri Lanka to have any SOFA or VFA.
Acquisition and Cross-Servicing agreements (ACSA)
SOFA is a follow-up of the ACSA agreement (83page) signed by UNP Govt & USA in 2017. ACSA allows US troops to make use of any military bases & ports whenever they want & Sri Lankan Govt must provide necessary support. Joint training exercises under US directives. Our Armed Forces have to take orders from US Armed Forces hierarchy.
SOFA provides facilities & conditions to implement ACSA agreement. With SOFA US troops, support staff, contractors can enter Sri Lanka without visa or passport merely by showing their US identity card. They will not be checked. Their equipment will not be checked. Their civil/military planes, vessels, vehicles will not be checked and they can bring anything without paying any duties /levies or taxes.
Full text of draft SOFA agreement dated 28 Aug 2018 was published by Sunday Times on 30 June 2019
Why are these agreements kept secret from public before signing?
SALLYPORT – US firm offering jobs
SALLYPORT a US firm offering a comprehensive range of global protective, security & mission support solutions to both US govt and foreign allies of US govt as well as to private & commercial clients announced full time and part time jobs in Sri Lanka. Another company Michael Baker Global Service owned by Caliburn International is also outsourced protection of building materials, furniture, fixtures etc.
ACQUISITION AND CROSS SERVICING AGREEMENT (ACSA)
In 2002 US tried to finalize ACSA formerly known as ‘NATO Mutual Support Act’ with Sri Lanka after signing CFA on 21 February 2002 but failed.
ACSA is a bilateral agreement which involves combined exercises, training, deployments, allows US troops to obtain food, fuel, transport, ammunition (logistics supplies) – reimbursement in cash or in kind.
US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage announced plans for ACSA after meeting with PM Ranil in Washington 2002 with Minister Milinda Moragoda playing a key role in the project. In December 2002 Ambassador Wills requested use of Sri Lanka’s port & air space to invade Iraq, Foreign Minister Tyronne Fernando explained the country’s objection and ACSA was shelved.
Foreign Minister Kadiragamar visiting Washington in 2005 demanded that ACSA not to be included into agenda talks.
ACSA was signed in March 2007 (almost identical to ACSA US signed with Australia in 2010). ACSA Australia is a public document but ACSA Sri Lanka is not. US wanted it to be kept secret as it did not wish for Sri Lanka to request features in the agreement during the LTTE operation.
The agreement allowed US to transfer & exchange logistics, supplies, support & refueling during peace keeping missions, humanitarian operations or joint exercises. Excluded from 2007 ACSA were weapons systems such as missiles, naval mines, torpedoes, nuclear ammunition & items such as warheads, chemical ammunition etc. subject to the Atomic Energy Act 1954. US assured there would be no US bases in Sri Lanka. US provided vital information to the Sri Lanka Navy to apprehend 6 LTTE vessels in 2007 (Memoirs of Admiral Karannagoda) The the 8 page ACSA signed in 2007 ended in March 2017 and on 4 August 2017 PM Ranil entered into a new ACSA with 83 pages & over 50 annexures. Annexures included all US military establishments that could have boots on the ground in Sri Lanka. This list was available in the Sunday Times of May 2019.
The 2017 ACSA features had inserted that Sri Lanka was to be used for ‘unforeseen circumstances or exigencies’ for supplies, support & services.
This means Sri Lanka’s Armed Forces have to comply as part of US military operations. It also allows every single security or military apparatus in the United States access to Sri Lanka. These security commands are listed & Point of Contact is also defined. Though it says RECIPROCITY – will Sri Lanka’s Armed Forces require similar military facility in the US?
While 2007 ACSA was for 7 years (ending 2014) 2017 ACSA was open ended – its termination required mutual written consent of both or one party giving 180 days’ notice in writing.
2007 ACSA allowed US military vessels to enter SL on a ‘one-off’ basis
2017 ACSA is ‘open-ended
Ambassador Hettiarachchi is on record to say that during renewal negotiations of ACSA in 2017 Prasad Kariyawasam then SL envoy to US & then Foreign Minister Mangala S pressurized to expedite ACSA. Their pressure led to draft ACSA sent for cabinet approval. The armed forces commanders/officials were not given time to study it. Admiral Ravi Wijegunaratne had expressed reservations on ACSA. Defence Secretary Kapila Waidyaratne, a former Additional Solicitor General said that he had been compelled to sign the document since the Cabinet had approved it. ACSA was not discussed in Cabinet or presented to Parliament. A brief to the President on ACSA on 30 June 2017 in Sinhala was 9 pages with no annexures. The Sinhala version of ACSA given to Cabinet had no translations of annexures. English version was 83 pages with over 50 annexures.
ACSA 2017 was kept secret with US envoy Atul Keshap denying media coverage or publicity. Bar Association President Kalinga Indatissa wrote to the Foreign Minister Marapana in June2019 under Section 3(1) & Section 24 of Right to Information Act 12 of 2016 and Article 14A of the Constitution requesting copy of the ACSA.
Millennium Challenge Corporation
A US foreign aid agency established by US Congress in 2004. Through MCC US offers grants to foreign countries.
MCC is regarded as a US govt ‘arm twisting’ tool aligned to US foreign policy and explains why the secrecy of the agreement.
MCC is like a Treaty as it does not come under Sri Lankan Law.
MCC receives cabinet approval 29 October 2019 (has Sri Lanka’s sovereignty been sold for $480m as MCC has to be taken along with SOFA & ACSA provisions)
Dec2016 – Board of Directors of US Govt’ss MCC compact selected Sri Lanka to develop a 5-year development grant (Compact)
$7.4m original funding
Jul2017 – MCC US officials visit Sri Lanka & meet Govt officials, industry representatives, civil society. $700m was announced. Sri Lanka established a “Compact Development Team’ in the PM’s Office.
3year economic plan done by Ricardo Hausman, Director of Harvard Centre for International Development & Robert Z Lawrence, Professor of International Trade & Investment in Sri Lanka to restructure Sri Lanka’s economy (Funded by Open Society Foundation of George Soros). Harvard Business School & World Bank are advising BOI.
25Sept2018 – Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Nash visited Sri Lanka for discussions on the proposed MCC Sri Lanka Compact. MCC informed they were giving Sri Lanka a grant of USD 480 million as development aid.
13 Aug2018 – MCC informs US Congress a Congressional Notification of intent to negotiate MCC Compact with GOSL.
25 Apr2019 – MCC Board approves 5year $480m Compact to GOSL (days after Easter Sunday attacks)
1 Jul2019 – World Bank classifies Sri Lanka as an upper middle income country
To qualify for MCC grants, countries must be low income or lower middle income countries.
Compact Development Team was set up in the PM’s Office.
Has the President signed MCC Compact as Chairman of the National Physical Planning Council & has it been gazette? No one knows. In June 2019 the PM’s office denied it has been signed.
GOSL claims it sought help of Centre for International Development at Harvard University to do a constraints analysis to identify what hampered economic growth – access to land, weakness in transport/logistics infrastructure & planning / policy instability (were concluded) – did they have to go all the way to Harvard to find this out!
GOSL & MCC herded the same ‘civil society’ private sector ‘pro-US’ groups and held meetings to justify seeking public opinion.
MCC Transport Development Proposal
- Set up Advanced Traffic Management System covering Colombo Metropolitan area – to reduce travel time, congestion, reduce traffic emission, accidents & improve efficiency & safety
- Bus Transport Sector Modernization – improve public bus system combining state-private buses.
- Developing & improving 137km road sections in Central Ring Road covering & connecting Sabaragamuwa, Uva, North Central, Central Provinces to markets in Western Province.
- Relocate & finance locations for wholesale storage of agro produce in collaboration with private investors at locations on the CRR Road Network
MCC Land Administration Proposal
- Parcel Fabric Map & inventory of State Land.
- Improving Deeds Registry
- Improving land valuation system
- Land Grants Registration & Deed Conversion Activity
- Land Policy & Legal Governance Improvement Activity
- Land Policy & Legal Governance Improvement Activity
Above to be implemented in 7 districts –Kegalle, Kandy, Matale, Kurunegala, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Trincomalee (Gampaha was also included) (Economic Corridor)
MCC Grant – https://www.mcc.gov/where-we-work/program/sri-lanka- compact
MCC LAND PLAN
MCC Land Plan included 4 Economic Corridors
- Colombo to Trincomalee (covering Negombo, Kurunegala, Dambulla – 1.2m acres physically dividing Sri Lanka into 2 parts via an electric railway line.
- Jaffna-Kilinochchi (North)
- Galle-Tissamaharama (South)
- Chenkaladi-Ampara (East)
- Anuradhapura & Kandy to be developed separately
The corridors will be based on New National Physical Plan (2018-2050) replacing the 2011-2030 Physical Plan prepared in 2011 covering entire Sri Lanka.
The National Physical Plan has to be prepared under the Town & Country Planning (Amendment) Act 49 of 2000 and 2011 Plan followed these procedure which required Draft Physical Plan and hearings with experts, professionals & general public with provisional approval of Minister after which it is gazette with maps & plans for public scrutiny to propose revisions to the Draft Plan. Only thereafter that the final version is submitted to the National Physical Planning Council for approval.
The National Physical Plan 2050 was prepared by National Physical Planning Dept of Megapolis & Western Development Ministry & approved by the NPPC and National Economic Council and was to be gazette in February 2019. It has not been made public even by Jun2019.
If the National Physical Planning Council has not approved following required procedure – how valid is this final Plan and a future President can nullify it!
MCC Land Deeds
Is the Govts plan to dispose state land connected to the MCC land projects?
State Land (Special Provisions) Bill was gazette on 27 March 2019 to grant absolute title to state lands held by citizens given land grants. It will enable them to sell their land. The yahapalana govt is setting up a 20-member ‘Land Grants Committee’ consisting Ministry Secretaries, Heads of relevant institutions & 2 nominees of the President & PM to administer the Act.
The Bill was opposed claiming it did not have cabinet approval. The Land (Special Provisions) Bill will remove the Land Development Ordinance of 1935, Crown Land Ordinance & Land Grants Act. State land will no longer come under the State. Under the previous Land Laws the grant holder could not fragment the land, mortgage the land, dispose of it without the GA’s permission. Land Ordinance ensured State land was given only to citizens of Sri Lanka.
Giving title deed to land to a land grantee will lead to him selling the land when in financial trouble & likelihood of multinational companies buying the land is imminent. Factories would emerge. “Gama, Keth Yaya, wewa, dagoba, pansala” concept around which villages were built would be destroyed along with agriculture. Displaced people living on state land for generations without lands or homes is a looming crisis.
The same Govt in 2003 attempted to change land laws but the 2003 Supreme Court ruling prevented it claiming that the Bill required 2/3 majority & a referendum. In 2015, the same Govt revived the Bill rejected in 2003. Land is held in TRUST as determined by Supreme Court in 1999 via Eppawela Phosphate case (SC884/99) State land is an inalienable right of the sovereignty of the People. Thus, absolute land grants cannot be given to some of the people as it is an asset that belongs to all.
The State Land (Special Provisions) Bill was challenged in Supreme Court in July 2019 the petitioners claiming Bill contained 36 clauses & a schedule violating the Constitution’s Articles 3, 4, 12(1), 12(2), 75, 154G. MCC Economic Corridor from Colombo to Trinco covering land mass of 1.2m acres to be leased to US for 200 years for a sum of $480 was also challenged.
MCC COLOMBO-TRINCOMALEE ECONOMIC CORRIDOR
Part of the MCC Compact is an Economic Corridor from Colombo Port to Trincomalee Port known as the Colombo-Trincomalee Economic Corridor (CTEC)
Road link – Central Expressway is to connect the two & is about 280km long.
Electronic Rail link – On either side of the rail track 50km has been selected which would cut across 6 provinces & 10 districts. Colombo, Negombo, Kurunegala, Dambulla, Trincomalee covers 1.2million acres of land. It will divide Sri Lanka into two with parts of Anuradhapura also going to North.
Thus 42% of Sri Lanka’s land would be owned eventually by foreigners for 200 years. 58% of Sri Lanka’s population live in the 6 provinces/10 districts that will form the Economic Corridor. This 42% land with 58% of populace contribute 86% to Sri Lanka’s economy.
MCC – ADVOCATA – PATHFINDER
MCC was to be signed in December 2018 but got delayed due to political events. MCC Board approved grant again in April2019. MCC Compact awaits Cabinet approval.
MCC only helps low/lower-middle income countries but Sri Lanka is supposed to be upper-middle-income & may not qualify for grant said ADVOCATA.
If by mid-Sept 2019 Sri Lanka does not sign, MCC may disqualify Sri Lanka said PATHFINDER Foundation.
US embassy said MCC had decided to extend $480m grant term.
Must be the world’s first time that a donor is begging recipient country to accept its grant!
Why would MCC Director Board (represents US military/trade interests) comprising US Secretary of State / US Secretary of Treasury / USAID / US Trade Representative / 4 private sector representatives keep extending time to give a grant without recipient country even asking for it.
MCC Compact proposal was prepared after study by Harvard University’s Centre for International Development (2015 to 2016), inputs from World Bank, Asia Foundation, Trimble & Sri Lanka’s Centre for Policy Alternatives.
Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) on Land Selling
MONLAR accuses Yahapalana of amending land laws to selling state land to foreign companies on excuse of investments and creating a cheap labor force to facilitate neoliberal economic policies. MONLAR highlights
- Serious crisis in rural economy created by Govts
- Multi-national companies will make small-time farmers bankrupt & buy off their agricultural land (handed over by Yahapalana via title deed)
- Replacing antiquated land laws & replacing with new land laws drafted by foreigners will result in Sri Lanka’s land falling into hands of foreigners.
- Farmers/citizens who lived on lands for generations will become landless & homeless.
- MONLAR said all documents approved by Cabinet between Jan2015 and Apr2019 on land reform were based on recommendations by World Bank & IMF
LAND SURVEYS & LAND BANK
US has surveyed our lands & recommended a State Land Bank enabling State land to be given even to foreigners.
Yahapalana Govt has removed many restrictions
- foreigners can now own land
- 50-acre limit restriction for individual land ownership removed
Land surveying has been outsourced to US firm Trimble Navigation.
US INTERFERING IN SRI LANKA’S LAND
Trimble Navigation-US based land administration company
A US company, forwarded a proposal for ‘Title/Tenure Regularization and Cadastral Registry Modernization’ in Sri Lanka in October 2015 – a proposal rejected in 2010.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Management (CCEM) headed by Prime Minister’s senior advisor R. Paskeralingam had recommended this proposal and Cabinet approved it. Trimble demanded USD 170 million which was reduced to $154m taken on a 4% interest loan to be paid in 15years with a grace period of 5 years. The Finance Ministry’s External Resources Department was authorized to negotiate with Trimble to prepare land survey maps and create a streamlined database of 3.6 million parcels of state owned land. Trimble was to work with the Ministry of Lands to identify 2.5 million state-owned lands and help to give permanent titles to the persons currently occupying these lands. The argument was that the Survey Dept did not have technology to survey 1.1m parcels of Jaya Bhoomi & licenses land in 2 years.
Government Surveyors’ Association (GSA) alleged that Trimble Navigation was to be handed several operations of the Sri Lanka Survey Department (SLSD), including Land Information System (LIS) and Aerial Survey Operations for 15 years. They felt this would lead to the signing of US Tropical Forest Act which was abandoned in 2004.
Trimble would manage Sri Lanka’s survey dept resulting in 400 public surveyors and 200 additional private surveyors with crews serving under Trimble. Trimble would take control of Sri Lanka’s electronic land register & details of lands. This is a threat to National Security of Sri Lanka.
US company proposes to survey our land & Sri Lanka has to pay $154m for it and we have to take a loan to be paid in 15 years to pay the US firm? Are we crazy? Why should the functions of the Survey Dept, Land Information System, Aerial Survey Operations be given to a private foreign firm for 15 years? The 400 public surveyors, 200 additional private surveyors will all go under Trimble – who can at any time dismiss them! How can a government give a country’s electronic land register and details of lands to a foreign firm? The company will be using satellite imagery to survey land & issue land certificates – what is the role of the Govt especially when the company is immune from adjudications. Who is going to adjudicate when problems arise?
Dangers of ACSA-SOFA-MCC to Sri Lanka?
All 3 agreements with the USA involving Sri Lanka’s Territory & US Military/Civil & Contract Personnel & Equipment presence.
US needs to relocate from Diego Garcia following ICC ruling on US occupation of Chagos Islands as illegal & to be returned to Mauritius. Sri Lanka is that alternate choice.
Will Sri Lanka have to wait 200 years to be given similar verdict?
A chain of events are linked to these agreements
- Sept 2016 Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to Washington to sign agreement with J. Roskam, Chairman House Democracy Partnership, of House of Representatives.
- Under ACSA US aircraft carriers could dock in Trincomalee & US could use Trinco as a floating base for military activity.
- All agreements with US been known to only a few pro-US cabinet ministers & officials.
- ACSA was signed without informing public or tabled in Parliament
- Agreements impacting on Sri Lanka’s territory, its sovereignty are hidden from the Public
- SOFA – allows US armed forces (uniform/civil/contract) access to any part of Sri Lanka with our laws not applicable to them
- ACSA – envisages building an economic corridor from Colombo to Trincomalee/supplies equipment to be brought into Sri Lanka from all modes (sea/air) paying no duties/levies to Sri Lanka
- MCC – establishes a corporation to utilize land coming under the economic corridor.
- Complementing & facilitating the 3 agreements are the Land Special Provisions Act / State Land Bank Act – enabling land acquisition by foreign investors / forming corporations to develop these lands as they fit / turning our people into slave labor.
- US will use Sri Lanka to advance its military interest primarily & tighten its economic grip via American investors to make Sri Lanka dependent on them.
- 2million acres of land forming the Economic Corridor from Colombo to Trinco will be owned by US & Allied countries with the 2 ports under their control.
- US has already indicated it wishes future governments to honor these agreements.
- Legality of these agreements must be determined by patriotic lawyers & patriotic politicians
- No bilateral agreement whatever money is given can compromise the sovereignty of Sri Lanka and land ownership that is given in TRUST to the State on behalf of the People of Sri Lanka (living & future generations)
SOFA-ACSA-MCC TREATY OBLIGATIONS
The 3 agreements are between two sovereign states and constitute Treaty obligations.
Some say States are bound to fulfill obligations no matter what. Others say legitimacy of agreements depends on circumstances. Treaty laws are governed by 1969 Vienna Convention – Article 46 allows a country to back out saying it was against their laws of ‘fundamental importance’. When any agreement is signed by the Executive without concurrence of Parliament it is a violation of the law of ‘fundamental importance’. Sri Lanka’s Constitution says sovereignty is in the People & is inalienable. People’s sovereignty is exercised by Parliament & President TOGETHER on behalf of the People. They cannot exercise their powers separately (one without the other). Signatories to agreements must follow due process. In Sri Lanka due process is obtaining consent of 2/3 Parliament & consent of the Executive. Any Agreement/Treaty signed is signed in the name of the People & must have Parliament & Executive consent without that it is a violation. It is advised that the Supreme Court make a clear ruling on signing of bilateral agreements to prevent procedural flows tantamount to affecting the sovereignty of the People.
Opposition to US colonizing Sri Lanka
August 2019 Opposition MPs headed by Prof. Tissa Vitarana handed letter to the High Commissioner of South Africa in Colombo to hand over to Secretary-General, Indian Ocean Rim Association – Ambassador Dr. Nomvuyo N. Nokwe based in Mauritius.
Salient points covered in that letter
- Refering to decision of Council of Ministers of the IOR who met in Bengalaru in November 2011 to assign Maritime Safety & Security as its top priority, as a safe & secure Indian Ocean was required to social economic development.
- IOR recognized ‘maritime security’ needed for international peace & security, sovereignty/territorial integrity/political independence, security from crimes at sea, security of resources & environmental security.
- Sri Lanka facing situation likely to pose grave threat to regional and international peace & security giving Sri Lanka’s geostrategic location linking East-West maritime route.
- 3 agreements (SOFA-ACSA-MCC) military-economic related secretly negotiated between US & SL Govt & will turn Sri Lanka into a strategic military hub in the Indian Ocean.
- SOFA-ACSA-MCC agreements are incompatible with the UN Charter & violates sovereignty & independence/territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.
- ACSA signed on 4 Aug 2017 binds Sri Lanka to give US logistical & other support for ‘unforeseen circumstances or exigencies’(US Indo-Pacific Command forces can use SL’s strategic harbors, airports, military installations for military operations – SL will be a Launchpad for attacks of aggression against countries in our region that US considers its enemy)
- Status of Forces Agreement is being secretly negotiated. It permits Dept of Defense military & civil personnel, DOD contractors to occupy any territory of Sri Lanka. DoD personnel are exempted from criminal jurisdiction, they are given diplomatic privileges & immunities, they can enter Sri Lanka using only US identification, no visa requirement, they are allowed to move freely in any part of Sri Lanka wearing uniform, carrying weapons, their vessels and vehicles can also move anywhere in Sri Lanka & are exempt from inspection, restrictions, taxes or duties.
- Millennium Challenge Compact – is a land/transport project creating an ‘economic corridor’ involving 8 districts covering 1.2m acres & would divide Sri Lanka into 2 via an electric train connecting Colombo Port/Airport to Trincomalee Port. US have drafted and proposed drastic land law changes to privatize state land and permit purchase by foreigners. This will make poor farmers living on state land eventually landless and without livelihood. State lands used by schools, hospitals, parks, natural reserves are also in danger of being transferred to foreign transnational companies. This will cause massive displacement of Sri Lankans.
- This 1.2million acres covering MCC project contains natural resources, strategic assets, energy deposits, rare earth elements, minerals, rich biodiversity, water resources & UNESCO world heritage sites.
- The 3 agreements were negotiated under regular threats of unilateral coercive trade & economic measures, western interference into Sri Lanka’s internal affairs and targeting Sri Lanka via UNHRC by US & Allies
- Easter Sunday massacres saw a surge in US & Western Intelligence forcibly landing to offer “assistance”
- The 3 agreements strengthen NATO activities in region & will impact on countries they deem their enemies.
- US President’s National Security Strategy 2017 & National Defense Strategy 2018 identified 3 sets of threat to US & Allies – all were located in Indian Ocean Region – China & Russia, Iran & North Korea, “Jihadi terror”
- Agreements with US pose threat to Sri Lanka’s relations with member countries of the IORA.
The Opposition MPs requested the Secretary-General, Indian Ocean Rim Association to take the following measures conforming to the IORA Charter & the UN Charter
- Safeguard fundamental principles based on which international cooperation among states is based – sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, non-interference in internal affairs, peaceful co-existence & mutual benefit
- Evaluate adverse consequences of the 3 agreements against principles of UN & IORA Charters
- Take action under Chapter VIII, Article 52 of UN Charter concerning regional agreements
- Implement UN Declaration of the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace adopted by General Assembly Resolution 2832 (XXVI) which designates Indian Ocean as a zone of peace “within limits to be determined” together with the airspace above & the ocean floor subjacent.
- Take action under Chapter VI, Article 35 of UN Charter concerning Peaceful Settlement of Disputes which ‘authorizes any Member of the UN to bring to the attention of the Security Council or of the General Assembly, any dispute or any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute in order to determine whether the continuance of the dispute or situation is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace & security”.
AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION (ABA)
Why does the ABA want to register in Sri Lanka? ABA has been making numerous requests – 1st in January 2018 requesting to set up a branch office under the Ministry of Justice & AG’s department. 2nd request was in October 2018 when the AG sent a letter to the Ministry of Justice stating ABA was planning to hold a capacity building program for judges & prosecutors and requested the Ministry to issue a certificate. The letter was headed “Official Letter of Authorization for the Establishment of a Branch Office of the ABA in Sri Lanka”.
BASL wrote in October 2018 to the Ministry of Justice giving its objections to the ABA setting up a branch as nowhere has a foreign bar association being set up as a branch office.
Setting up a US Bar Association office in Sri Lanka would be a threat to the legal profession & sovereignty of Sri Lanka. ABA will start making statements and comments on internal matters.
As a result of the objections ABA attempted to set itself up as a NGO and made a request to the Ministry of Justice through a local legal firm. This request was also referred to the BASL which submitted its objections in April 2019 to the National Secretariat for NGOs. However 2 batches of Senior Judges went to US in August 2018 and April 2019 on tax payers expense. A workshop for High Court judges was held at Taj Samudra, Colombo in December 2018. In July 2019 officials from AG’s dept attended a workshop in US. All these looked like attempts to influence the Judiciary. The secret tape MP Gammanpila spoke about referring to what the Sri Lankan judges were asked to do by the US confirms this.
ELECTIONS COMMISSION OF SRI LANKA
How independent is the Election Commission of Sri Lanka if it is receiving assistance from USAID through US based International Foundation for Electoral Reforms? Vasu Mohan, Regional Director for Asia Pacific was working inside the Election Commission paid by USAID. When questioned Mahinda Deshapriya Chairman Elections Commission strongly defended the project claiming Vasu Mohan was a Sri Lankan.
PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP – KANDY
The Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade together with the USAID-SAIL project hosted a Public-Private Dialogue (PPD) on Global Trade for businessman in the Kandy District on Friday 23rd August 2019 at Hotel Suisse, Kandy.
USAID launched the four-year SAIL project in October 2016 to support economic reforms and promote Foreign Direct Investment in Sri Lanka.
The event was the first to be held outside Colombo over 120 participants from ministries, government agencies, the business community, trade chambers, the private sector and other key stakeholders took part.
US FUNDS RENOVATION OF ANURADHAPURA ARCHAEOLOGY MUSEUM
Sept2019 – $150,000 grant from US Embassy in Colombo in 2015 through Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation funded the renovation of the Anuradhapura Archeological Museum to preserve artifacts. The Ambassadors Fund has also funded Dutch Forts of Batticoloa & Galle as well as Archaeological museum laboratories and monasteries in Payagala.
EASTER SUNDAY BOMB BLASTS & ARRIVAL OF FBI to Sri Lanka
Wherever US pivots jihadis follow too is often an adage mentioned internationally. Every country benefiting from the Belt & Road Initiative of China invariably becomes victims of ISIS Islamic terror. It was Sri Lanka’s turn in April 2019 and it came as no surprise when Western Intelligence agencies dashed to assist with investigations. FBI arrived on 23 April claiming to be on invitation of GOSL, British MI-5 sent 10-12 experts – over 40 such foreign experts arrived and still we don’t know who did it. They were all working with CID. President Sirisena says these foreign intelligence were not invited. What was the ‘work’ they did? What is the ‘technical assistance’ they gave? Why were FBI allowed to take the phones of suicide bombers & other devices? Didn’t this prevent local investigators examining the evidence? Even after 6 months we don’t who masterminded the gruesome suicide killings as the evidence have been taken overseas!
Immediately after 21/4 two US Govt employees were detected at Hilton Colombo Residence – sniffer dogs found explosives inside their apartment. Staff security at Hilton Colombo stopped 5 US officials checking in with 6 boxes on 30 July 2019 night. The US delegation denied the 6 boxes to be scanned. Then the boxes was loaded into a US embassy vehicle and sent somewhere else. What were in these boxes? MP Wimal Weerawansa released visa photos of the US team claiming they had arrived in a private aircraft. The team had left 2 days later WITHOUT the controversial cargo? MP Weerawansa questioned to whether the boxes were still in the country! The boxes were not checked at customs too. Nagananda Kodituwakku sought information from the Director General of Customs questioning why the US military cargo was exempted from mandatory checks?
Is US/CIA applying ‘Shock Doctrine’ on Sri Lanka? Influencing a massive shock on society through extreme violence attempts to lead people to state of confusion & weakness which helps US to take over that society. Author of doctrine Naomi Klein applied it initially to economic change & is now being applied politically too.
Disasters leave citizens emotionally & physically distracted to mount resistance – this helps US push its controversial policies etc. MCC is being approved when people are distracted by a Presidential Election. People must therefore watch out for more communal attacks, bloodshed & other surprise attacks before elections! However, the way US thought people would react did not happen. The well-planned attacks in Gampaha also did not give the results expected. Somehow their plans are not working as planned. The Catholic Church and the Maha Sangha united to appeal and people listened. They echoed that foreign forces were behind the attacks & people accepted.
US TEAMING TO EXERT INFLUENCE OVER ASIA
Quadrilateral Strategic/Security Dialogue (“the Quad”)
This is an INFORMAL dialogue between US, Japan, Australia & India initiated in 2007 by PM of Japan, US VP Dick Cheney, Australian PM John Howard and Indian PM Manmohan Singh.
The dialogue parallels with joint military exercises (Exercise Malabar)
The quadrilateral dialogue is primarily to respond to Chinese economic & military growth.
Australian PM Kevin Rudd withdrew from Quad but enhanced military cooperation with US with US marines being deployed in Darwin, near Timor Sea & Lomok Strait. However, Australia rejoined QUAD in 2017. Now the QUAD includes UK and France. US seeking to include Sri Lanka into its line of control in the Bay of Bengal.
Jan2019 – US Indo-Pacific Command Chief Admiral Philip Davidson told the US Senate’s Armed Services Committee, during a Congressional hearing said that Sri Lanka was a significant strategic opportunity in the Indian Ocean.
Jan2019 – US envoy Teplitz said “US-Sri Lanka security cooperation includes a variety of joint exercises and training helping among other things, inter-operationability….. designed to address our mutual security interests. Every joint exercise, every training in disaster response, is done at the invitation of our Sri Lankan hosts”. (a change of govt must ensure our troops are not used to attack US enemies)
Feb2019 – Thomas J.Vajda US Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State dealing with South and Central Asia visited Colombo
He said ‘we view Sri Lanka as a critical partner in the region.’
May2019 – US & Sri Lanka agree to expand ‘military-to-military’ engagement said a joint statement by Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry. (peace keeping, human rights training, visits by US ships & military officials) Engagement connotes a COMBAT role – is our ARMY going to be used to assist US troops with COMBAT against our traditional friends?
HOW COUNTRIES NEED TO DEAL WITH US
Iran – US interest in Iran was due to its oil. US companies were drilling Iran’s oil. Iran nationalized oil and US got rid of Iran’s democratic leader Mossadegh and replaced him with a dictator Shah Reza Pahlavi. The Shah’s secret police SAVAK was assisted by CIA & Israel’s Mossad. Shah was unpopular in Iran and US took him back to US. That was how Iranians came to hate USA.
US battle with Iran continues. Iran hostage crisis, Iran contra issue, Iran nuclear program are some of the issues. Iran has to fight not only with US but Israel & Saudi Arabia,
Venezuela – US meddled in Venezuela too. US doesn’t like Venezuela’s President Maduro. So US is supporting Opposition Leader Juan Guido. Guido’s wife was even invited to the White House to meet President Trump. US, Canada, EU and OAS countries claim Guido is Interim President. Maduro is supported by Russia, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea & countries in UN have also issued support for Maduro. Maduro won the election.
India – is also having some cold feet with US & is connecting with Russia to settle disputes with China. China & India met in Chennai in October 2019.
Yahapalana however is continuing its link with US despite the clearly obvious strategy of US to capture Sri Lanka politically & militarily. Former envoy Blake visited Sri Lanka in May 2019.
Joint Partnerships with USA & ALLIES
- US-SL Military-to-Military Partnership
- Comprehensive Partnership Agreement (CPA) with Japan in Oct2015 (Japan is part of QUAD with US)
- Jun2019 – Tripartite agreement between Sri Lanka – India – Japan on Eastern Terminal of Colombo Port
- Mar2019 – Yahapalana is also attempting to link Sri Lanka with ASEAN requesting to be included into ASEAN Sectoral Dialogue Partnership. ASEAN is linked to US.
- US-SL ACSA expanded in 2017 allowing US to get logistics support, supplies & services from Sri Lanka. US army can come to Sri Lanka in any unforeseen situation. Over 50 annexures lists military units that can come to Sri Lanka. ACSA has not been presented to Cabinet or tabled in Parliament by PM since 2017. (2007 ACSA had only 8 pages but 2017 ACSA has 83 pages and over 50 annexures)
- SOFA – reduces Sri Lanka to a neo-colony. US aircrafts, vessels can arrive without inspection. None of Sri Lanka’s security can board any of these vessels or crafts to inspect them. They are free of license, customs duties, taxes or other charges. US troops can wear uniform, carry arms, take any radio communication equipment. US troops & contractors to be allowed to enter & leave Sri Lanka individually or collectively using only their US identity cards – no passports or visa required. US military can carry weapons and will not be subject to Sri Lankan laws for any criminal activity they commit in SL.
- MCC – Colombo-Trinco railway link will divide Sri Lanka, 1.2m acres make up an economic corridor which US wants to be freed to be taken by foreign companies and thus the privatization of state land is looked as a means to remove land grantees by giving them outright ownership & forcing them to sell land when financially cash trapped.
DOCTRINE OF R2P – RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT
R2P is used by powerful nations to justify international interventions into domestic affairs of other countries.
UN Charter covers objectives of global peace based on sovereignty & equality (chapters 6, 7, 8)
The International Commission on Intervention & State Sovereignty estabalished in 2000 headed by Gareth Evans of the International Crisis Group issued in 2001 report titled “Responsibility to Protect” giving international community the responsibility to intervene militarily. ICISS report was rejected by national governments. Alternately US has set up other ‘interfering agencies’ to do R2P – HRW, Amnesty, ICG and Chicago R2P coalition. The form a global advocacy network for R2P and various players in Sri Lanka are also involved.
LETS JOIN THE DOTS
US is constructing a huge embassy amalgamating the British High Commission.
US is funding all types of ‘good governance’ programs that give them access to Sri Lanka’s administrative mechanisms and documents.
US officials are drafting new Bills not Sri Lankan lawyers
US is funding training for MPs, Lawyers, Public Officials even Judges
US is also funding the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery & Corruptions
USAID-DAI all fronts of the CIA are heavily involved in both public & private sector including banks
US has meddled in elections in the past and has funded UNP to power.
The 2015 election victory – US spent $585m to ‘restore democracy’ in Sri Lanka Burma & Nigeria (John Kerry) as well as making $3.4m to Yahapalana between Jan2015 & Aug2015.
What are US plans for 2019 Presidential Elections?
US embassy goes to meet Arumugam Thondaman head of CWC to discuss elections. Since when do foreign embassies go to discuss elections?
WHY US IS INTERESTED IN SRI LANKA?
Sri Lanka sits in the middle of the busiest and strategically important sea lanes – Indian Ocean.
More than 80% of world’s sea trade/oil transits through Indian Ocean choke points – 40% passes through Straits of Hormuz, 35% through the Strait of Malacca & 8% through Ban el Mandab Strait.
These sealanes are gateways to control resources and markets in the Near East, Middle East, Africa, Asia
Sri Lanka is at the crossroad of energy, trade, air routes linking Africa, Middle East, South Asia, South East Asia & Australia.
Bay of Bengal is turning into a theatre of war. Indian Ocean is heavily militarized.
Sri Lankans do not wish to be dragged into a global war against China, a traditional friend. Our army cannot be used against our traditional friends. We cannot forget our friends who not only helped us during the conflict but who had been supporting us unconditionally in the UN/UNHRC through their statements.
Sri Lanka as a sovereign nation with a proud history must have the freedom to decide how it conducts relations internationally. Any dealing must have mutual benefit. Any deals must be transparent and open and discussed with the public. Governance is only given in trust to the politicians. They cannot take decisions in secrecy especially when it involves Sri Lanka’s territory and its assets and resources.
Sri Lanka has a history way longer than the countries dictating to us today about governance. Our kings had ruled and kept relations with foreign nations as well as had economic links with them. Our history is such that we have never been invaded by either South India or the 3 Europeans that arrived and it was only as a result of the treacheries by our locals that our Island was handed over to them. In the 21st century to see such a repetition is very unfortunate.
Shenali D Waduge