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EXXONMOBIL’S RESPONSIBILITY FOR ATROCITIES IN ACEH

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  • Muslim Intelligentia Voice for Aceh (Mivo
    Acehnese activist addresses conference on Exxon in Dallas Statemen on EXXONMOBIL’S RESPONSIBILITY FOR ATROCITIES IN ACEH Made at the ExxonMobil Annual
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 6, 2001
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      Acehnese activist addresses conference on Exxon in Dallas

      Statemen on
      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
      facilities.

      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
      responsible.

      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
      ExxonMobil.

      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
      there.

      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
      untold consequences.

      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
      coffins.

      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
      held accountable.

      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
      practices;

      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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