MP Wimal Weerawansa says that the US Ambassador should clarify what is the necessity for the SOFA Agreement, which he claims contains clauses that could “potentially lead to war hideouts” in Sri Lanka, if there is no intention to set up military campus in the island.
The National Freedom Front (NFF) leader today issued a statement in response to the Twitter message from US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Madam Alaina B. Teplitz, stating that there are no plans to establish an American base in Sri Lanka.
If there is no plan to establish an American base in Sri Lanka, we would like to know what is included in the document relating to the SOFA (Status Of Forces Agreement) sent by the US Embassy in Sri Lanka to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he said.
“We would also like to know what agreement has been reached between the US Ambassador and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Thilak Marapana, following their discussions held so far,” Weerawansa said.
He stated that taking in to account the seriousness of the situation, they would like to place before the country the contents of the document which has been revealed as SOFA Agreement.
He said that as far as they understand the agreement applies to American forces, American Civil Defense Department personnel, and those who are contracted with the US Department of Defense.
He claimed that all the above categories will all be granted diplomatic immunity in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
“They will have the privileges to access any location, including high security zones, in Sri Lanka without any restrictions.” Accordingly the Sri Lankan legislation does not apply to them and only the US law will be applicable to any illegal or criminal activities they may carry out, he alleged.
“They are not subjected to any taxes or payments in Sri Lanka. They are entitled to import equipment, supplies, raw materials and any material needed for technical training.”
He also alleged that all vessels and vehicles used by the US Department of Defense for the purposes of the armed forces shall be free to enter and exit the Sri Lankan territories. American troops will also be entitled to use their own telecommunication networks in Sri Lanka at no cost, he claimed.
Weerawansa warned that if such an agreement is enforced, there is no need for US bases to be established in Sri Lanka because the whole of Sri Lanka will automatically become a “US war hideout.”
He therefore urged the US Ambassador in Sri Lanka to openly and transparently disclose the agreements, drafts and documents that have so far been negotiated with the Foreign Ministry of Sri Lanka regarding the SOFA Agreement.
“Otherwise, this issue will not be solved through Twitter messages issued from time to time,” he said.