EXXONMOBILS RESPONSIBILITY FOR ATROCITIES IN ACEH
- Acehnese activist addresses conference on Exxon in Dallas
EXXONMOBIL�S RESPONSIBILITY FOR ATROCITIES IN ACEH
Made at the ExxonMobil Annual Meeting Texas, May 30, 2001
By Radhi Darmansyah <internationalaffairs@...>
Thank you for this opportunity to address this meeting. I have come a long
distance to get here.
I am Radhi Darmansyah, the Secretary General of FARMIDIA, the Aceh Student
Front for Reform. My organization is one of many which is doing humanitarian
and human rights work under terrifying conditions in Aceh, Indonesia. Most
similar international organizations have fled.
The Indonesian military and police have threatened and beaten journalists.
They have killed and tortured activists. Innocent inhabitants of Aceh have
been and are continuing to be murdered, tortured, and terrorized by the
Indonesian armed forces, which ExxonMobil hires to provide security for its
I am here to ask for your help to stop the activities of a corporation,
which is helping the Indonesian military murder its citizens. By hiring the
Indonesian military and police, knowing that those forces are deeply
implicated in serious and widespread human rights abuses, ExxonMobil is
Until ExxonMobil take steps to address the legitimate concerns of ordinary
civilians in Aceh for their own security, we will be joining our brothers
and sisters worldwide in their campaign to boycott ExxonMobil.
Until they become a responsible corporate actor, ExxonMobil will be revealed
to be the renegade it is, not only in its self-serving publicity of
environmental impacts of its business activities, but also in its
responsibility for human rights violations by its agents in Aceh.
I am here to make a moral and also a financial argument for ExxonMobil to
take steps to ensure its practices do not result in human rights abuses. I
understand that it is one of the founding principles of Western ethics that
an individual is responsible for his or her actions. Since the Founding
Father of western ethics, Plato, wrote his most important work, the
Republic, those principles have recognized also that a person who gives a
madman a knife is responsible for the crimes committed by that madman.
I would like to let you know today: knife-wielding madmen are running wild
in Aceh today. They are murdering my brothers and sisters. They are raping
and keeping schoolgirls as sexual slaves. They are stationed on ExxonMobil
facilities, hired by ExxonMobil, provided with equipment and barracks by
These madmen are Indonesian soldiers - widely recognized by local and
international human rights organizations, by the US Congress, and by the
local inhabitants of Aceh, as being responsible for gross human rights
abuses committed against the villagers of Aceh and human rights defenders
Meanwhile ExxonMobil has profited greatly from the oil and gas in my
homeland, while it has caused the forced relocation of local inhabitants of
its well sites, polluted the local fisheries and wells, and been responsible
for industrial accidents resulting in widespread pollution with as yet
I appeal to the ideas of fundamental fairness and justice. It is not right
for any corporation, especially the largest one in the world and one that is
based in the "land of the free and the home of the brave," to commit these
acts which would be condemned here in the United States. How can ExxonMobil
help the corrupt and brutal Indonesian security forces to commit atrocities,
to steal from the local inhabitants, and remain silent?
I want you all to imagine, please, the predictable
results of having a police chief in Dallas, Texas, for instance, who praises
Hitler. The Chief of Police of Aceh, Chaerul R Rasyidi does. He is
responsible for many murders. Not even after well over 50 unarmed civilians
were murdered on their way to a peaceful demonstration has this man been
brought to trial. Would a similar police chief be acceptable here in Dallas?
Last year, one thousand civilians were killed by security forces in Aceh
alone. Aceh has a population of about 4.1 million. If civilians here in
Dallas, Texas, were murdered at the same rate by the police and military of
the United States, about 8,000 people in Dallas would no longer be here.
That's about 22 people a day!
ExxonMobil has been silent about the fact that the armed insurgents are not
the main source of their security risks. The Indonesian military and police
stationed at its facilities are. These two forces are more like two rival
gangs. Over 75% of their budget is derived from their legal and illegal
business ventures. These include widespread extortion, prostitution and drug
running. Some of them even sell weapons to the insurgents. These armed gangs
engineer violence in Aceh in order to provide the "solution". They are
professional extortionists. ExxonMobil and the US Government (through its
embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia) are well aware of this situation. Yet they
have not made any public statements about it. What US interests are being
protected by this silence? Certainly no American values are being upheld by
this silent complicity.
ExxonMobil has benefited much from its relationship with the Suharto
dictatorship and from the military, which it continues to support.
ExxonMobil has made $40 billion dollars in the last decades in Aceh alone.
Every year it makes approximately $2 billion dollars. Most of my homeland's
brothers and sisters are poor.
But the world is changing�!
Although twelve years ago, the international community may not have
recognized that corporations and international financial institutions have
impacts on and therefore responsibilities for human rights abuses committed
by their agents and partners in the business community. Today much has
changed. I want to remind all of you that the downfall of Suharto in May of
1998 was triggered by the massive demonstrations against the International
Monetary Fund. Under Suharto, Indonesians had suffered a model of imposed
development implemented by Suharto's brutal dictatorship. Now they demanded
that development imposed by Suharto, the IMF and the World Bank for
thirty-two years be ended. Those demonstrations, in 1998, were echoed in
Seattle and Quebec, calling for powerful economic actors and politicians to
wake up! Listen to the people!
You heard our call in May of 1998 and we heard yours in Seattle. But our
leaders are only beginning to hear. And powerful corporations are looking
backwards to imposed development. Instead of forward to democracy.
At the height of military operations in the 1990s, launched under pretext of
destroying a small insurgency, the military budget for "development" was
quadrupled in Aceh. I am here to say that the development of the Acehnese
must be carried out by the Acehnese. That there can be no development
without democracy. And that until the thugs that pretend to defend Indonesia
by killing Indonesians are no longer supported by the most powerful
corporation in the world, we, in Aceh, will continue to struggle for
democracy and democracy will continue to be the dream of Acehnese.
Yet ExxonMobil continues to talk about development. We urge them to explain
how their operations have benefited in "developing" the peoples of Aceh
while tens of thousands of Acehnese civilians have been murdered by military
operations financed in large part by its business activities. If this is
"development", let's skip the niceties. Please send us gravestones and
In expensive advertisement in the New York Times, ExxonMobil has made grand
statements in support of "free trade". Lee R. Raymond, the CEO of Exxon
Mobil Corporation says he supports free trade. About a month ago he spoke
about "the importance and value of international investment by emphasizing
the significance of the socially beneficial activities carried out by the
oil industry in its international operations". He encouraged other
businesses to do the same! God help us! ExxonMobil's free trade hides the
prison it has made of my home, Aceh.
ExxonMobil speaks of freedom, while its agents terrorize common civilians.
It speaks about opportunity, while 40% of the fisherfolk near its operations
are impoverished because of pollution resulting in dwindling fisheries.
But the world has changed�!
A recent Alabama jury verdict shows that Americans are not standing for
corporate crime. In its decision, the jury found that ExxonMobil had
conspired to cheat the state of Alabama out of oil royalties. They levied
punitive damages of $3.4 billion dollars because 'Exxon was aware it was
shortchanging the state but thought it had enough muscle to get away with
it.' Imagine what ExxonMobil has been getting away with in Aceh, where
courts are corrupt and the military provides ExxonMobil with muscle.
The landscape for investors in the oil and gas sector has changed much since
1968 when ExxonMobil entered into an agreement with Suharto's state oil
company. Since then, many lawsuits recognized that corporations do have a
legal responsibility for the crimes from which they knowingly benefit. There
have been lawsuits, as yet unsettled, accusing multinational oil and gas
companies such as Shell, Chevron, and Unocal of complicity with human rights
abuses of their agents abroad.
International public awareness of what peoples in the South face when large
extractive projects are launched in their homelands is growing. Victims
exist. The law is unsettled. But a worldwide movement for democracy and for
accountability is growing. Corporations today have more power than many
nations. With power comes responsibility. ExxonMobil made a demand in March
of this year. It told the Indonesian government that it would shut
operations until security is restored in Aceh. If it can make that demand,
why not demand that the troops it hires not commit serious and widespread
human rights violations? With power comes responsibility. ExxonMobil must be
You and I, my brothers and sisters, must demand that ExxonMobil along with
its military and police in Aceh, be brought to justice.
May peace be with you. Thank you.
Here are recommendations about what we can do together:
-Call your government officials
i. Demand that ExxonMobil keep its operations in Aceh closed until they take
steps - such as those outlined in the Voluntary Principles on Security and
Human Rights - to minimize the risk of continued violation of the
fundamental human rights of the inhabitants of Aceh by the armed forces it
hires to provide security;
ii. Demand that ExxonMobil publicly inform the Indonesian government that
continuation ExxonMobil operations are subject to community consultation and
approval in an environment free of coercion;
iii. Demand that ExxonMobil acknowledge publicly that its security concerns
include the security of the inhabitants of Aceh and their human rights, who
suffer from the offensive military and police patrols carried out from
ExxonMobil supplied facilities and bases;
iv. Demand that, in situations of armed conflict, where no non-coercive
consultation is possible with the local population, ExxonMobil end any and
all oil or gas exploration or extraction;
v. Demand that ExxonMobil accept the Voluntary Principles on Security and
Human Rights, to which Unocal, Shell, Chevron, Texaco, Rio Tinto, Freeport
MacMoran are signatories, and develop a Code of Conduct which integrates
human rights and humanitarian law into ExxonMobil's business policies and
vi. Demand that ExxonMobil use the best available technology to protect the
environment and health of the local inhabitants affected by ExxonMobil's
business activities in Aceh;
vii. Demand that ExxonMobil support the International Right To Know
legislation proposed by the International Right to Know Campaign;
viii. Demand that ExxonMobil accept legally binding obligations to restore
all areas affected by ExxonMobil's oil and gas exploration and exploitation
operations, including medical monitoring of at risk populations, paid for by
ExxonMobil, and adequately and independently to investigate and document of
adverse health impacts.
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