Wednesday, January 5, 2005 · Last updated 9:04 a.m. PT
Aceh inmates stood no chance in tsunami
By CHRIS BRUMMITT
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
This photo shows the destruction left the Dec. 26 tsunami near the sea coast of Banda Aceh, Indonesia Wednesday, Jan.5, 2005. US Secretary of State Colin Powell toured Indonesia's tsunami-ravaged Aceh province Wednesday and said the devastation wrought by the disaster was the worst he had ever seen. (AP Photo/Choo Youn-kong, PoolL)
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia -- Soon after the earthquake shook Banda Aceh prison, wardens released the inmates into the central courtyard, fearing a second, more powerful temblor might collapse the cells.
But nobody expected what came next - a huge wave that smashed through the walls as if they were made of paper, engulfing the complex in a torrent of churning water and debris. All 280 inmates and six guards are missing and feared dead, as are 200 other prisoners in other facilities in the region.
"They didn't make the connection between an earthquake and a tsunami. Our grandparents, and their grandparents before them, have never experienced such a thing," said Teuke Darwin, head of the provincial justice ministry. "They used to think a tsunami was a Japanese television series."
Exxon to sell gas to plants in Aceh www.chinaview.cn
By Grace Nirang (China Daily)
BEIJING, Jan. 4 -- Exxon Mobil Corp agreed to sell natural gas to Indonesian fertilizer plants in Aceh province that are threatened with closure to help rebuild the economy after the area was devastated by last week's earthquake and tsunamis, the oil and gas regulator said.
Exxon, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, agreed to a government request to boost supplies to the fertilizer plants at the expense of a nearby liquefied natural gas plant partly owned by the US company, said Rachmat Sudibyo, chairman of the regulator, BPMigas. Exxon's spokeswoman Deva Rachman could not be reached for comment.
The agreement "will help revive the economy devastated by the recent tragedy," Rachmat said yesterday.
A magnitude-9 earthquake off the coast of Sumatra and subsequent tsunamis may have killed 100,000 people in coastal regions of Indonesia. The giant waves killed at least 30,000 people in Aceh's capital, Banda Aceh, the government said in a statement in Jakarta yesterday.
Exxon's supply to the PT Arun NGL gas liquefaction plant in Aceh has declined in recent years because of depleting reserves in the company's fields.
Indonesia's other gas liquefaction plant, PT Badak NGL in Bontang, East Kalimantan, will fulfill some of the export contracts that Arun will no longer be able to honour, said Djoko Harsono, head of the marketing division at BPMigas.
"Arun and Badak have this transfer commitment so Arun can supply gas to fertilizer plants without having to cut LNG exports to buyers," Djoko said.
Badak, the world's largest LNG plant in operation, will deliver as many as nine cargoes to Arun's buyers in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan next year, he said.
Exxon, which operates gas fields in the northwestern province of Aceh, signed contracts on December 31 to supply 120 million cubic feet of natural gas a day to fertilizer makers PT Pupuk Iskandar Muda I and II in Aceh at US$2.30 per million British thermal units. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-01/04/content_2412509.htm
TROOP DEPLOYMENT TO GUARD EXXON AND OTHER VITAL ENTERPRISES
Report received from Aceh on 6 November 2001
A report from Aceh indicates the extent of troop deployment in North Aceh, nominally charged with protecting a number of Indonesia’s most prestigious industrial ventures, including Exxon-Mobil Indonesia and its associated refinery, PT ARUN.
According to the report, which gives a detailed breakdown of troop deployment, at least 10,755 (ten thousand seven hundred and fifty-five) troops have been posted in 77 (seventy seven) different location in the district of North Aceh, including 30 (thirty) villages, 3 (three) schools, 2 (two) mosques and one shopping complex. The report states that two hundred and fifty KOSTRAD troops have been posted in Lhok Kuyun village, Sawang Sub-district alone.
In Seunudon Sub-district, a total of 800 (eight hundred) troops have been posted in eight different locations, including 550 (five hundred and fifty) Marines and 150 (one hundred and fifty) men from Infantry Battalion 111.
On 31 October 2001, Dasian Ben Yusuf was arrested by the Marines based at Aluee Bili, Seunudon Sub-district. Two days later, on 2 November 2001, he was found dead by a villager in Paya Cicem river. The fate of two other men arrested by troops guarding the Exxon-Mobil site known as ‘Bachelor’ at Simpang Landing, Lhok Sukon, remains unconfirmed.
Troops have been deployed all along the Exxon-Mobil pipeline road, and regularly carry out operations into the nearby villages. Those using the pipeline road are stopped and searched. Villagers report cases of the systematic use of intimidation and extortion perpetrated by members of the security forces, and the report indicates that the inhabitants of villages located along or nearby the Exxon-Mobil pipeline are in a high state of fear and unrest, due to troop activity.
One example the report cites is that of Simpang Leupe, a village located along the Exxon-Mobil pipeline, where members of the security forces demand money from every vehicle which passes along that road, including the public transport and poor villages on their bicycles.
The troops deployed include KOPASSUS (forty at PT AAF complex and an unspecified number at PT PIM port at Dewantara and Dewantara Koramil base), KOSTRAD (deployed mostly to secure Exxon-Mobil facilities – units 121 and 122), Marines, Airforce, Brimob, TNI regulars, ZIPUR (Engineers) and ARHANUD (artillery air defence corps). The numbers of ‘organic’ and ‘non-organic’ forces are not made clear in the report.
The projects being secured by the troop deployment include:
PT Aceh Asean Fertiliser (PT AAF)
PT Pupul Iskandar Mudah (PT PIM – fertiliser)
PT Kertas Kraf Aceh (PT KKA – pulp and paper plant)
State Electricity Company (PLN)
Tripara Co Warehouse
The full troop deployment data is given below:
Abbreviations: TNI = Indonesian National Armed Forces
BKO = reinforcement troops sent from outside Aceh, aka "non-organic"
POLRI = Indonesian National Police.
KOSTRAD = Indonesian Army Strategic Command.
PERTAMINA = National Oil Company
PU = Public Works Department
BRIMOB = Para military Mobile Brigade of POLRI.
KOPASSUS = Army's special commando unit (parachutists)
ARHANUD = Artillery Air Defence Corps
AURI = Indonesian Air Force
MARINIR = Marines
ZIPUR = Military Engineering Corps
SECURITY FORCES DEPLOYED TO DEFEND VITAL PROJECTS
1. Teumpok Teungoh LR. III. Lhokseumawe : 60 men of TNI BKO
2. SKB. Keude Aceh: 60 men of TNI
3. Pertamina. Hagu South West: 40 men of TNI/ POLRI
4. TPI. Ujong Pusong Lama: 50 men of TNI/ POLRI
5. SMKK.Gampong Jawa Lama : 40 men of TNI (KOSTRAD)
6. Next to PU Office: 40 men of TNI
7. District Officer (Bupati)'s Office: 20 men of TNI/ POLRI
8. EXXON-MOBIL Sports Complex of Uteunkot: 150 men of TNI/ POLRI
9. Cunda Plaza Shopping Complex: 100 men TNI/ POLRI
10. Lhok Seumawe Port: 12 tents of unknown number of TNI/ POLRI
11. Pusong Lama: 200 men of TNI
12. Teumpok Mosque: 10 men of BRIMOB
13. TRIPATRA Co. Warehouse of Blang Panyang: 200 men of TNI/ POLRI
14. PBI hill of Meunasah Muria: 70 men of TNI/ POLRI
15. Padang Sakti pipeline: 50 TNI/ POLRI
16. Cot Gapeuh Village of Padang Sakti: 50 men of TNI/ POLRI
17. Paloh punti Sp. Cot Pling village: 70 TNI/ POLRI
18. Paloh punti Sp. Cot Mosque: 70. TNI/ POLRI
19. Desa Seuneubok Kec. Blang mangat village: 100 TNI/ POLRI
20. Sp.Leupee.Kec. kutaMakmur village: 50 men of TNI/ POLRI
21. Blang Ktreing.Kutamakmur village: 50 men of TNI/ POLRI
22. Blang Pulo Telecoms hill: 120 men of TNI/ POLRI
23. PT.ARUN telecoms complex 100 men of TNI/ POLRI
24. Football stadium of ARUN: 400 men of TNI/ POLRI
25. Bukit Indah (ExxonMobil) of Muara Dua Sub-District: 70 men of TNI/ POLRI
26. ExxonMobil complex of Rancung (site of the infamous KOPASSUS torture complex during DOM): 1200 men of TNI
27. Gate I and II of ARUN gas project: 40 men of private security unit.
28. Payong post of PT.ARUN gas project: 20 men of TNI
29. PT. ARUN main office: 200 men of TNI
30. Sp. Empat KR.Geukueh village: 60. BRIMOB.
31. Police station of Dewantara: 60. BRIMOB
32. Koramil Dewantara Military base: 50 men of TNI(KOSTRAD/KOPASSUS)
33. Dewantara Camat (Assistant District Officer)'s office: 50 men ofTNI (KOSTRAD/KOPASSUS)
34. PIM Sports Stadium: 80 men of KOPASSUS.TNI BKO 130.
35. PLN Electricity Board of Cot Trueng,Muara Batu: 500 men of TNI.
36. Muara Batu Camat's office: 200 men of SILIWANGI (West Java TNI)/ BRIMOB
37. Ulee Gadong Primary School: 60 men of TNI
38. Air Defence missile site DEN RUDAL 001: 2000 men.(ARHANUD/KOSTRAD/SILIWANGI/KOPASSUS/ZIPUR/BRIMOB.
39.Malikussaleh Airport: 100 men of AURI/MARINIR/BRIMOB.
40.PIM port of Dewantara: 500 KOPASSUS/KOSTRAD/BRIMOB
41.AAF (AcehASEAN Fertilizer) Complex :130 men of a private security firm + 50 men of KOPASSUS
42.Cot TGK NI(at UNIMA university campus): 100 men of KOSTRAD/BRIMOB
43.Cot Wee village: 50 BRIMOB BKO
44.Kec.Muara Batu District Officer's Residence: 60 men of KOSTRAD/BRIMOB
45.Ulee Pulo.Kec.Muara Batu village: 35 men of BRIMOB
46.Gampong Barat Kec.Nisam village: 100 men of TNI
47.Cot Sabong .Nisam village : 250 TNI/POLRI
48.Ulee Nyeu. Lr.Jrat. Nisam village: 100 men of TNI
49.Njambek. Nisam: 100 men of TNI/POLRI
50.PT.KKA (Aceh Paper Mill) project, site of the infamous KKA junction massacre in 1999: unknown number of men from a private security firm + BKO.TNI.POLRI.
SECURITY FORCES DEPLOYED FOR SECURITY OF EXXON MOBIL
1.Sp Leupe, unknown number of men of KOSTRAD, 121, 122
2.Bukit Permata Hijau Housing complex: 100 men of KOSTRAD, 122,121
3.Simpang Jeuleukat: 60 men of KOSTRAD, 122, 121
4.Nex to Alue Liem Religious school of Blang Mangat: 20 men of KOSTRAD, 122, 121
5.Korpri Housing complex: 400 men of KOSTRAD, 411, 122, 121
6.Kebun Asia comlex: 40 men of KOSTRAD, 122, 121
7.Geunali Raya Housing complex, Blang Buloh: 40 men of KOSTRAD,122, 121
8.Simpang Mon Tujoh, Blang Buloh, Blang Mangat: unknown number of KOSTRAD,122,121
9.Kebun Sawit Said Sulaiman: 30 men of KOSTRAD, 122, 121
10.Cot Nek Andah village: 40 men of KOSTRAD, 122, 121
11.Simpang Alue Glem village: 100 men of KOSTRAD, 122, 121
12. Hill top of Bukit Cot Matahe 60 men of KOSTRAD, 122, 121
13.Foothill of Bukit Cot Matahe: 60 men KOSTRAD, 122, 121
14.Cot Matahe Football field: 400 men of KOSTRAD, 122, 121
15.Cot Matahe Junction: 40 men of KOSTARD, 121, 122
16.Simpang Ulee Meuria village,Syamtalira Bayu: 60 men of KOSTARD, 122, 121.
17Simpang Pulo U village, Syamtalira Bayu: 60 men of KOSTRAD,122,121
18.Paya Kambuk, Jungka Gajah village: 40 men KOSTARD,121, 122
19.Simpang Daya Nudi village: 40 men of BRIMOB POLSAK JUNGKA GAJAH.
ADDITIONAL DATA REGARDING TROOP DEPLOYMENT IN NORTH ACEH
There are 4 KOSTRAD posts totalling 250 men at Sawang Sub-District.
Units and strength of security posts in the SEUNUDON Sub-District, North Aceh:
1. POLSEK, battalion 3: 100 men.
2. Camat Office, Infantry Battalion YONIF 111: 150 men.
3. MATANG LADA, Marines: 100 men.
4. TEUPIN KUYUN, Marines: 60 men.
5. ULEE REUBEK BARAT, Marines: 100 men.
6. BLANG GEULEUMPANG, Marines: 150 men.
7. KUTA PAIDAH, Marines, 40 men.
8. ALUEE BILI, Marines, 100 men.
Units and strength of security posts in the JAMBO AYE Sub-district, North Aceh:
1. TEUPIN GAJAH. 70 Marines.
2. MEUNASAH DAYAH. 120 Marines.
3. DESA MEUREUBO. 150 Marines.
4. KUALA JAMBO AYE 60 Marines.
5. EX WATERWORKS OFFICE. 80 Marines.
Exxon taken to court in the US
Exxon, the world's largest oil company, has been taken to court in a US court, accused of complicity with the Indonesian military in egregious human rights violations in Aceh. The case, filed on behalf of eleven plaintiffs, makes grave charges against the company for its close collaboration with the Indonesian armed forces, employed by it to provide its installations with 'security'
The lawsuit was filed in the District of Columbia court on 11 June by the Washington-based International Labour Rights Fund and is based on two US laws, the Alien Tort Claims Act under which foreign citizens can sue corporations in the US for human rights abuses, and the Torture Victim Protection Act which allow foreign victims of torture to sue corporations or individuals in the US.
The eleven Acehnese plaintiffs, seven men and four women, are not named in the lawsuit, special dispensation having been granted by the court to allow the plaintiffs to remain anonymous. As the lawsuit states, 'if they complained to the military authorities, they would face certain retribution and punishment'.
The lawsuit charges that the plaintiffs 'have been subjected to serious human rights abuses including genocide, murder, torture, crimes against humanity, sexual violence in violation of the Alien Tort Claims Act ... and the Torture Victims Protection Act'.
Complicity with Suharto
ExxonMobil as the company is now known was created as the result of a merger on 30 November 1999 between Exxon Corporation and Mobil Corporation, owners of Mobil Oil Indonesia (MOI). 'Having reported approximately $210 billion in revenue for the year 2000, ExxonMobil,' the lawsuit states, 'ExxonMobil is now listed as the largest publicly held American corporation by the magazine Fortune. In calendar year 2000, ExxonMobil reported the world's largest corporate profits'.
Having discovered a large natural gas field in Arun, Aceh in the early 1970s, Mobil Oil obtained exclusive rights over the exploitation of these reserves 'from the brutal military regime headed by General Suharto ... in exchange for providing the Suharto family with "blank shares" in MOI as well as other forms of direct and indirect payment'. Since then, the Arun Project which incorporates the extraction facilities now owned by ExxonMobil, and the liquefaction plant owned by the state company, Pertamina (55 per cent), Exxon (35 per cent) and a Japanese company (10 per cent), 'has been one of the largest and most profitable natural gas projects in the world and has helped catapult Indonesia as one of the world's largest natural gas producers and exporters'.
The suit charges that because of the extreme unpopularity of the Suharto regime, security was an essential element and the Project's activities 'could not have been performed without a heavy military presence'. Hence troops were assigned for that purpose, for which the company pays a regular fee. Moreover, according to the suit, the company also controlled and directed the security forces, 'making decisions about where to place bases, strategic mission planning and making decisions about specific deployment areas. (Indeed, it is a recognised part of the 'duties' of the Indonesian armed forces to provide protection for so-called 'vital enterprises' which they have also been providing for three decades to the Freeport copper and gold mine in West Papua.)
By the time of the merger between Exxon and Mobil Oil, there was a 'clear public record of pervasive and systematic human rights violations perpetrated upon the innocent non-combatant villagers of Aceh by the TNI troops specifically hired to provide "security" for the Arun Project'. This included provision for two military barracks located near the installations, commonly referred to as 'Post 113' and 'Rancong Camp' which were used by Kopassus (special forces) units to interrogate, torture and murder Acehnese civilians suspected of engaging in separatist activities. It also included the provision of heavy equipment so that the Indonesian military could dig mass graves to bury their Acehnese victims, and the use of roads constructed by the companies to transport the military's victims to mass graves located near company premises.
Since the collapse of the Suharto regime, the defendants' 'security' service, the TNI, have continued without restraint to practice 'ethnic genocide', while the company has ignored pleas by numerous human rights groups to cease its operations in Aceh until it can make arrangements to operate without using the murderous TNI for security.
A litany of abuses
All the plaintiffs, referred to simply as John or Jane Doe, were subjected to abuses at the hands of troops guarding the company's premises. One plaintiff was shot in the wrist, had a grenade thrown at him and was left for dead. He lost a hand and his left eye. The second was forced onto a truck, beaten severely on the head and body, blindfolded and taken to Rancong where he was tortured for months. The third was shot three times in the leg then dragged to a post where he was tortured while his gunshot wounds bled, had his skull cracked and was burnt with cigarettes. He was finally released after a bribe was paid. The fourth was beaten by soldiers, accused of being GAM and had the letters 'GAM' carved on his back with a knife. The fifth was held in a building inside the company's complex, tortured with cigarettes and electricity, sustaining severe injuries to his head and body. His captors also beat his son and broke his leg. The sixth plaintiff was tortured then taken to his village and ordered to identify all villagers who were members of GAM. When he denied knowing any GAM members, he was beaten and shot in the leg. After hospitalisation, he was tortured again, suffering more severe injuries. Finally, his village head made a collection in the village and bribed the police to release him. Male plaintiff No 7 was taken by his captors to an office inside the company compound where he was beaten with the butt of a gun and a hammer, sustaining severe injuries.
The house of the first female plaintiff, who was pregnant at the time, was forcibly entered by a soldier who threatened to kill her and her unborn child, then sexually assaulted her. The second woman plaintiff's husband was shot dead while working in a field, while the third woman's husband was taken from their home at gunpoint and never re-appeared. Female plaintiff No 4 also lost her husband when he was working in a field where he was shot and killed.
The court was requested to award the plaintiffs compensatory and punitive damages and to enjoin the defendant from further engaging in human rights abuses against the plaintiffs and their fellow villagers in complicity with the Indonesian government and military.
Pertamina: 'We're responsible'
In response to the lawsuit, Exxon issued a statement 'categorically' denying any suggestion that it or its affiliate companies were involved in abuses by the security forces. For its part, Pertamina claimed that it was responsible for ExxonMobil security. 'The protection for all vital installations is the responsibility of Pertamina,' the company said, adding that it was common for the company to ask for assistance from the government if its vital installations came under threat. The president-director denied that they financed troops, but 'simply provided some health, housing and transportation facilities for the security officers ... in return for their services in guarding our facilities'. [Jakarta Post, 23 June 2001]
No one should expect early results from the lawsuit. Other cases, against Unocal in Burma and Shell/Chevron in Nigeria, are currently under consideration in US courts and it could take years for a verdict to be handed down.
Exxon and US policy
Three months before the lawsuit was filed, Exxon halted all its operations in Arun for reasons of security. Four days later, the Indonesian cabinet adopted a decision to declare GAM a 'separatist' organisation and set in motion preparations for an all-out offensive in Aceh. This came with Presidential Instruction No IV/2001 (Inpres/IV) on 11 April and the commencement of military operations on 2 May. A primary aim of the operations was the need to persuade Exxon to resume operations, as the shutdown was costing the Indonesian state $100 million a month in revenue and a possible meltdown of its guaranteed overseas market for liquefied natural gas. Even before specially-trained counter-insurgency troops were sent to Aceh from various parts of Indonesia with a mission 'to crush GAM', an additional 2,000 troops were sent to increase 'security' at the Arun field.
Since the shutdown, there have been several explosions and attacks on company premises for which GAM has been blamed. The GAM leadership says that their units were not responsible and indeed would not have been able to penetrate the security surrounding the installation, had they wanted to.As the months have passed, Jakarta's efforts to persuade Exxon to resume operations have become more and more frenzied, including threats from Pertamina to take over the company or to insist on a shake-up of its executives. As we went to press, operations were expected to resume in mid-July.
US government policy on the question of Aceh is heavily focused on safeguarding Exxon's continued existence in Indonesia. This holds true especially since George W. Bush took office; Exxon contributed $1.2 million to the Bush election war chest, one of the biggest donors.
During the talks in Geneva between the Indonesian government and GAM on 30 June/1 July, a key demand from Jakarta was for GAM to give a written assurance that it would not attack the installations; TAPOL understand that there was also strong pressure along these lines from the US shortly before the talks took place. For reasons known best to itself, GAM was not willing to give any such assurances, apparently because, to have done so would have meant acknowledging that they had been responsible for past attacks.http://tapol.gn.apc.org/162nexxo.htm
How the Company is Linked with Indonesian Military Killings, Torture and other Severe Abuse in Aceh, Indonesia
In the past decade alone, ExxonMobil has extracted some $40 billion from its operations in Aceh, Indonesia, leaving in its wake a legacy of death, destruction and environmental damage.
There have been credible reports dating back several years that Exxon Mobil Corporation, along with its predecessor companies, Mobil Oil Corporation and Mobil Oil Indonesia (collectively "Exxon Mobil"), hired military units of the Indonesian national army to provide "security" for their gas extraction and liquification project in Aceh, Indonesia. Members of these military units regularly have perpetrated ongoing and severe human rights abuses against local villagers, including murder, rape, torture, destruction of property and other acts of terror. ExxonMobil apparently has taken no action to stop this violence, and instead, reportedly has continued to finance the military and to provide company equipment and facilities that have been used by the Indonesian military to perpetrate and literally cover up (in the form of mass graves) these criminal acts. Click here to learn one local woman's story: CUT ZAHARA HAMZAH's statement to XOM shareholders at the May 2002 AGM.
The International Labor Rights Fund has taken on the challenge of seeking justice for local victims of these abuses. On June 20, 2001, ILRF filed an ATCA claim in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 01-1357 CIV, on behalf of 11 villagers from Aceh who were victims of human rights abuses by Exxon Mobil's security forces. The general theory of the case is that Exxon Mobil knowingly employed brutal military troops to protect its operations, and the company aided and abetted the human rights violations through financial and other material support to the security forces. In addition, the case alleges that the security forces are either employees or agents of Exxon Mobil, and thus Exxon Mobil is liable for their actions. Exxon Mobil filed a routine motion to dismiss ILRF's claim, and ILRF filed a response against this motion on December 14, 2001. The court heard arguments in the case on April 9, 2002, and a decision was expected within 60 days. Instead, the court has not yet ruled on the motion to dismiss, leaving the Acehnese victims of abuse in a state of legal limbo. Earlier in 2004, the presiding judge in the case asked for additional briefing on the impact on ILRF's case against ExxonMobil of the Supreme Court's decision in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, in which the Supreme Court upheld the use of the Alien Tort Claims Act in cases like ILRF's ExxonMobil suit. ILRF filed its brief in the case in August 2004. The parties continue to await the court's decision on the motion to dismiss. Like Unocal, Exxon Mobil's primary defense appears to be that the human rights violations may very well be occurring, but the company did not specifically intend this result, and therefore cannot be held liable. http://www.laborrights.org/projects/corporate/exxon/
Down to Earth No. 49, May 2001
Aceh: Exxon Mobil shuts down
In March the US-based oil company Exxon Mobil announced it was suspending operations at its Aceh oil and gas fields due to the deteriorating security situation. It is no coincidence that only days later, the Jakarta government announced it would step up military operations in the conflict-ridden territory.
Exxon Mobil announced the temporary shut-down of operations in Aceh on March 9th. The company said the decision was taken because of security concerns for its staff and people living near its operations. In the days following the decision, top-level staff were evacuated to Medan in neighbouring North Sumatra and PT Arun, the LNG processing plant part-owned by the company, officially suspended operations. Reports circulated that other major industrial installations in Aceh - two fertiliser plants and the Kertas Kraft pulp plant - which rely on PT Arun for fuel, would follow suit.
For many years Exxon Mobil has been associated in the minds of a war-weary Acehnese population with the Indonesian military's reign of terror in towns and villages near the company's operations. As a 'vital enterprise' Exxon's operations were placed under heavy military guard.
Company equipment was used to dig mass graves for massacre victims and its buildings used as centres of torture.
Local NGOs have called on the company to take responsibility for human rights violations (see DTE 48). It is not surprising that the company's decision to suspend operations was welcomed by many local people. However, their relief may turn out to be short-lived: Jakarta's response is to send yet more troops to the region.
After officially declaring the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) a "separatist movement", the Jakarta cabinet announced in March "limited military operations" for Aceh. The move, which is seen as a boost to the military and a set-back for President Wahid, acts against the progress in negotiations between Indonesia and the GAM brokered by the Henri Dunant Centre in Switzerland. In the latest agreement reached in mid-February, both sides agreed to replace the so-called Humanitarian Pause (agreed in May last year) with locally-negotiated security arrangements between field commanders on the ground.
There have been no concrete results from the Humanitarian Pause or from the one-month moratorium on violence agreed in mid-January this year - indeed the levels of violence have continued to escalate. Fears that human rights defenders continue to be targeted by the security forces were confirmed when three volunteers working for an NGO helping torture victims (RATA) were tortured and killed in December last year. Three months later, on March 29th, two human rights workers and their driver were murdered shortly after leaving a police station in South Aceh. Nevertheless, the latest decision by Jakarta can only make the chances of a negotiated peace even more remote. Recent reports suggest that a further 6,000 troops are ready to join an estimated 30,000-strong military force already in the territory. Human rights groups are concerned that, with the increase in troop numbers, the armed conflict with GAM will intensify and bring more suffering to the civilian population.
(Source:Reuters 30/Mar/01; Jakarta Post 12/Mar/01; Tapol Bulletin 161, Mar/Apr/01; New York Times 24/Mar/01)
In the continuing economic crisis, the Indonesian government is clearly under great economic pressure to persuade Exxon Mobil that it is safe to resume operations. LNG exports from Arun earn more than US$1.8 billion per year from a production of 11 million tonnes per year. Some 225 shipments annually are made, mostly to Japan and Korea. The LNG processing complex at Bontang in East Kalimantan, which produces twice as much as Arun, has been designated to take over supply commitments to these consumers but can only do so until the end of May. This is why the Jakarta government has been pressing Exxon to restart operations by then.
The situation has caused some friction between Exxon Mobil and the government, with President Wahid openly accusing the company of using the security situation to put pressure on Jakarta to renegotiate its contract. Under its production-sharing contract, Exxon takes 30% of revenues from the gas sales while the state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina, takes 70%. Pertamina says it stands to lose $100 million per month if the suspension continues.
In April Pertamina was reported as saying it would take over operations in Aceh if Exxon failed to start up again by June. This report was later denied.
To convince Exxon Mobil that it is safe to restart operations, the government has sent in more than 2,000 extra troops to guard the company's facilities. Exxon remains sceptical however and has resisted naming a target date for reopening the plant. In March, the New York Times reported that the energy and mineral resources minister, Purnomo Yusgiantoro, was forced to abandon an attempt to visit the site when shots were fired at his plane, preventing a landing. President Wahid also postponed a trip to the territory the same month.
For its part, GAM denies targeting the company itself, but regards the military forces guarding the facilities as a legitimate target.
(WSJ.COM News Roundup 24/Mar/01; Jakarta Post 18/Apr/01, 13/Mar/01) http://dte.gn.apc.org/49Ach.htm