Sydney Stop the War Coalition in Australia extends its solidarity the Philippines Stop the War Coalition and the other groups demanding that your country's Senate not to ratify the Republic of the Philippines-Australia Status of the Visiting Forces Agreement.
This is a military agreement, developed in secrecy by the governments and military chief of both our governments, that will allow the deployment of Australian military forces on Philippines territory for "combined training, exercises, or other activities mutually approved by the Parties".
This military deal is an attack on the peace, freedom and independence of the Filipino people, and the other peoples in Asia.
We understand that under this agreement, the Philippines cannot exercise primary jurisdiction over visiting Australian military personnel accused of a crime or other breach of the law if the Australian military claims that the action concerned was carried out in performance of an "official duty".
Related: Protests hit Phillipines-Australia Military Deal
Under such an outrageous provision, if a “visiting” Australian soldier was accused of killing innocent civilians (or of other human rights violations), their Filipino victims would not be able to sue him/her in Philippine courts should the Australian authorities claim, and Philippine authorities agree, that the action was carried out in performance of an "official duty."
Australian governments have proved to be the most loyal military partners of US military foreign interventions in numerous countries over many decades, including Korea, Malaya,Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Sydney Stop the War Coalition continues to campaign against such military interventions by our government and its US partner-in-crime.
Last year, during a visit by US President Barack Obama to Australia, radically expanded military ties between Australia and the US were announced. These would allow the effective basing of significant numbers of US troops, warships and warplanes in Australia as well as the continuation of the US spy and military communications facilities which have long operated in Australia.
In an open letter to Obama and Australian PM Julia Gillard during the US President’s visit to Australia last year, the Sydney Stop the War Coalition charged them with complicity in war crimes and declared:
“We believe that the policies you jointly agree on undermine the security of our future and the opportunity for our children to live in a world free of war and violence; a world where economic equality, freedom of speech, expression and knowledge are sacrosanct.
“We are prevented from having that world because of the support you give to the military industrial complex, of which Australia is a loyal subsidiary. Those interests would have us believe that they wage war to bring peace and something they call 'democracy'...
“We do not accept that Australia’s foreign policy is best served by a war alliance with the US. “Signing a pact with the US government to allow joint command of military bases on Australian soil is not about preventing wars. Rather, it is about continuing the current illegal and unpopular wars, and being complicit in starting more.
“Australians overwhelmingly opposed the invasion of Iraq and, now, the 10-year long war in Afghanistan. Australia’s support for the NATO intervention into Libya, and the risk of such an intervention into Iran, will not help the democracy movements in these countries. Rather, these imperial interventions are about helping install compliant rulers with whom imperial powers, including Australia, can do business.”
With this understanding of the repressive role of the US and Australian military in the Middle East and Asia, we would like to offer Sydney Stop the War Coalition's solidarity to the anti-war movement in the Philippines.
Please add our voice to your upcoming protest actions demanding that the Philippine-Australia Status of the Visiting Forces Agreement not be ratified by your Senate.
Pip Hinman & Anne Picot
for Sydney Stop the War Coalition