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ExxonMobil aids genocide in Aceh

NEWS & LETTERS, January-February 2002

ExxonMobil aids genocide in Aceh

Indonesian troops murdered GAM commander-in-chief Abdullah Syaf'ie along with his pregnant wife, Aisyah Umar, on Jan. 22. See the March issue of N&L for details. -- Editor.
Indonesian President Megawati has sent more troops to Aceh to silence the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the nonviolent movements throughout society which favor independence. She ended the pretense of a dialogue on peace by arresting GAM negotiators. The situation now amounts to martial law (undeclared, to avoid international pressure).
There were more than 1,200 killings in Aceh last year. Yet so strongly do the Acehnese favor independence that they staged a general strike Jan. 16-18.
We need to strengthen our efforts to stop the daily killings in Aceh and Papua. September 11 has caused many leaders to dismiss human rights in their countries. Megawati has obtained a new military relationship with the U.S. under the cover of a "counter-terrorism" plan for Southeast Asia.
Last  April Indonesian armed troops (TNI) in Aceh burst into the Sumbok village home of Ati Rusdi Azis, a 27-year old woman who was seven months pregnant. A soldier loaded his gun and pointed it at her head as they proceeded to rape her.
"They will kill me if I fight them. They raped me. They come from there," she says, pointing in the direction of the facilities of the ExxonMobil company. Soldiers posted at the ExxonMobil complex regularly come to the homes of these villagers, presumably to search for GAM fighters. In reality, they come to terrorize the population though abuses that often include rape and torture.
ExxonMobil employs special units of the Indonesian military to guard its oil facilities. Aceh, an area rich in oil resources, contributes seven percent of the total global oil production of ExxonMobil. The Acehnese benefit not at all from the oil and gas fields.
For the past 12 years, Achenese villagers living around the gas fields have experienced terrible threats, intimidation, extortion, and abuse from the TNI soldiers. This relationship is reflected in the stark contrast in living conditions where poor Acehnese villages surround the luxurious neighborhood of ExxonMobil employees and the modern facilities of the ExxonMobil refinery.
The International Labor Rights Fund has brought a lawsuit on behalf of 11 victims of the TNI in a Washington, D.C.court, and a boycott of ExxonMobil products is underway.
It looks like in 2002 the Indonesian military will commit even more human rights abuses in Aceh, Papua and the rest of Indonesia. Megawati recently gave clear instructions to the military to violate national and international law in the name of national integrity. There will be no accountability for soldiers who commit abuses because of the Indonesian law of impunity—even East Timor's well-known human rights abuses are not being prosecuted.
—Radhi Darmansyah, International SIRA Representative
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