"We declare our first goal to be for every person to be dynamically involved in the process of freeing himself or herself from every form of domination or oppression so that each man or woman will have the opportunity to develop as a whole person in relationship with others".

- Papua New Guinea National Goals and Directive Principles

Sunday, 10 October 2010

One from the Archives - Exxonmobil and Human Rights Abuses in Aceh

Presenter: Sonia Randhawa
Speakers: Teuku Ardiansyah, chairman human rights and social research institute Kata Hati; K Shanmugan, campaigns coordinator Amnesty International Malaysia.

RANDHAWA: It's seven years since the eleven villages first filed their suit against Exxon Mobil for complicity in killings and torture. Some human rights organisations claim the case was postponed, after intervention by the Bush administration. In 2006, the judge presiding in the case ordered it to go ahead and he's now said the plaintiffs have provided sufficient evidence at this stage for their allegations of serious abuse.

From November 1999, Exxon Mobil took over Mobil's operations in Aceh. Activists say that while the corporation did not carry out abuses itself, it actively worked with the military involved in torture, sexual abuse and destruction of property.

The ruling has been welcomed by activists in Aceh.

Teuku Ardiansyah, is the chairman of human rights and social research institute, Kata Hati.

ARDIANSYAH: The decision only we are talking about the reconciliation basically of peace if somebody push or attack others, they have to say if they are sorry, they have to say what they are wrong, they have to take responsibility for their activity in the past. We have to talk about victim's rights. If no-one take the responsibility about killing, about kidnapping and anything, so how about the victims? There's no-one give attention for them now.

RANDHAWA: He says he has little doubt of the corporation's responsibility.

ARDIANBSYAH: Exxon is one of company in Aceh and they have a relation with the military activity. They have to take responsibility, because they use, they give the equipment, they give the land to military to do some harassments, to do something activity to hurt the Acehnese people. For us, for our civil society, now Exxon have one relation with the military in the past, because they support the military. They give like some money to pay the judge, for the people.

RANDHAWA; But Exxon Mobile in a prepared statement, say there was no claims that they participated in human rights violations.

STATEMENT: Exxon Mobil will continue to vigorously defend against these baseless claims and pursue all avenues available to us through the US legal system. Exxon Mobil condemns human rights violations in any form and has actively expressed these views to governments and others around the world. The claims are based on the alleged conduct of the Indonesian military against citizens of Aceh, in Aceh, during a civil conflict. There is no claim that any Exxon Mobil affiliate participated in any human rights violations or any other wrongdoing.

RANDHAWA: The judge found for Exxon Mobil's US affiliates did not have a case to answer.

International human rights organisations however, have condemned corporate behaviour in Aceh during the conflict. K Shanmugan from Amnesty International, Malaysia.

SHANMUGAN: It confirms that corporate entity do involve in security issues and is giving rise to human rights violation. I would put it as the corporate sponsored torture that it exists, it confirms that. Now it brings back the question of how to make corporate entity accountable as well to human rights violations. I think that will have a bigger impact, to say that now we have to seriously look at, not only the state, but also the corporate entities in terms of human rights violations.

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