Mobil, others accused of aiding army atrocities


Jan Slakov

Dear RN list,   Jan.2

We all know that corporations are implicated in the violence of this world
but it is not always easy to get "proof". The messages below can help.

If there is anything encouraging in the news below, it is that this
information is coming to us partly thanks to two mainstream media sources
(_Business Week_ and _The Wall Street Journal_).

As you will see, Mobil is not the only oil company implicated in sanctioning
violence. We may have been boycotting Shell already, because of what
happened in Nigeria, but are we prepared to boycott them all? To put them
under public control??!

all the best, Jan

Date: Wed, 30 Dec 1998 17:21:14 -0200
X-Sender: •••@••.•••
To: •••@••.•••
From: •••@••.••• (R. Magellan)
Subject: Mobil Accused of Aiding Army Atrocities 
Cc: •••@••.•••, •••@••.•••

>From Marko Ajdaric's  site, called  "Luta Continua"

RIGHTS-INDONESIA: Oil Giant Accused of Aiding
Army Atrocities 

By Pratap Chatterjee 

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 29 (IPS) - Mobil, the U.S. oil multinational, is keeping 
a low profile as investigators probe allegations that it helped Indonesia's 
armed forces in massacres near Mobil drilling sites in the province of Aceh, 
northern Sumatra. 

Business Week, one of the biggest magazines in the United States, last week 
published a six-page feature on the company titled: 'What did Mobil Know? 
Mass graves suggest a brutal war on local Indonesian guerillas in the oil 
giant's backyard'. 

The revelations came shortly after two other U.S. companies - Freeport 
McMoRan of New Orleans and CalEnergy of Omaha - were accused of business 
malpractices in Indonesia by investigative journalists at the Wall Street 

All three exposes were published in the last few months since the fall of 
General Suharto's 32 year-old regime has allowed new light to be shed on the 
roles of foreign multinationals in the south-east Asian country's affairs. 

Mobil owns 35 percent of P.T. Arun, a liquefied natural-gas producer in Aceh 
while Pertamina, Indonesia's state-owned oil monopoly, holds the controlling 
55-percent stake. Aceh provides an estimated 30 percent of Indonesia's total 
oil and gas exports or 11 percent of the country's total exports. 

Mass killings and disappearances near the Mobil drilling site had been 
rumoured for a decade, ever since the Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (Free Aceh 
Movement), a local separatist group, began to attack Mobil installations in 

Earlier this year the Human Rights Commission substantiated these rumours 
when they began to exhume the bodies of hundreds of people, who had been 
tortured and killed, from a dozen graves. 

The Business Week article begins with a gruesome picture of an Indonesian 
soldier examining a skull dug up from a mass grave. The article quotes 
Mobil's denials but also points out that the company admitted providing 
food, fuel and digging equipment for the soldiers who guarded the region for
three decades. 

One former Mobil employee told Business Week rumours of massacres and 
unconfirmed reports that Mobil equipment was being used to dig graves were 
frequently discussed at workplaces and in a company cafeteria. ''Every time 
I drove out there (Bukit Sentang), the subcontractors stopped my car. They 
said, `No, don't go out there. Don't you know the army is killing people and 
burying them in mass graves with Mobil equipment?'' he said. 

An estimated 39,000 people have disappeared since the region was placed 
under military occupation in 1980, according to local activists. In Bukit 
Sentang, after an estimated 150 bodies were found earlier this year, 
Baharuddin Lopa, secretary general of the Indonesian government-backed 
National Commission on Human Rights, said: ''This proves that Aceh has been 
a killing field''. 

One male whose body was dug up had been blindfolded, dressed only in 
underwear, with his arms bound behind his back by an army belt. The area of 
the graves, an expanse of scrub between a forest and an oil palm plantation, 
is nicknamed 'Lubang Neraka', meaning the 'Holes of Hell' by local people. 

On Oct. 10, a coalition of 17 Indonesian human rights organizations issued a 
statement saying Mobil was ''responsible for human rights abuses'' by 
providing crucial logistic support to the army, including earth-moving 
equipment that was used to dig mass graves. 

This declaration prompted Business Week to send journalists to do detailed 
on-the-spot interviews with local people. 

Yusuf Kasim, a local farmer who spoke to Business Week, said the army paid 
him four US dollars a night to stand guard over a borrowed excavator to 
prevent anyone from siphoning fuel from its tank. He said he watched 
soldiers execute 60 to 70 blindfolded Acehnese men at a time with M-16
rifles, shooting them in the back so they tumbled face-first into a mass
grave across a rice field from his house. 

The publication of the Business Week article caused a stir: the National 
Human Rights Commission announced on Christmas Eve that it would launch an 
investigation. ''We have to learn whether this information is accurate and 
clarify these reports,'' said Mohammed Salim, a member of the commission. 

Michael Robinson, a press spokesman for Mobil at its Virginia headquarters, 
told IPS the company was not willing to discuss the matter beyond a short 
official statement. ''Mobil strongly denies the implications contained in 
the article, which are based largely on unsubstantiated allegations, rumours 
and innuendo about allegations that took place outside Mobil's operations 
and control,'' ran the statement. 

But activists like George Ajitondro, an Indonesian academic who lives in 
exile, say Mobil's operations have also devastated local communities who 
depend on agriculture and fish farming, through forced relocations, numerous 
oil and industrial spills into the rivers, sea and bay, erosion of their 
riverside gardens and extreme noise pollution. 

Indeed, gas explosions have plagued communities for more than 20 years. As 
recently as December 1997, some 1,600 people had to flee from their homes 
after three natural gas wells erupted, spewing tonnes of mud over their 
villages near Tanjungkarang and Dalam. Nine houses collapsed and 188 were 
damaged as a result. 

In mid-1991, it was reported that around 60 percent of fisherfolk in 
traditional villages in the Lhokseumawe area were living below the poverty 
line, and were even close to starvation, because of critically low catches 
over the previous three years. 

These environmental disasters are among the major reasons why local people 
have complained about Mobil, not unlike communities elsewhere, such as the 
Ijaw and Ogoni in Nigeria, who have faced similar problems as a result of 
multinational oil drilling. 

Like the Acehese, the Ogoni and the Ijaw have suffered greatly for raising 
their voices against the oil companies. Chevron, a San Francisco-based oil 
multinational, was accused of sanctioning the killing of Ijaw protestors at 
a well site in Nigeria in May. 

Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil multinational, has been found guilty of providing 
the Nigerian military with weapons to use against the Ogoni while British 
Petroleum has been accused of training Colombian soldiers who have killed 

If nothing else, the public spotlight on Mobil has emboldened some local 
communities. Earlier this month four inhabitants of Desa Ampeh in North Aceh 
took Mobil Indonesia to court for 10 billion rupiah (1.33 million dollars) 
for forcibly taking their land and a cemetery to use as an airfield. 

But Mobil's Robinson says that he believes that the lawsuit has no 
implications for the U.S. parent company. ''We couldn't have taken anything 
from anyone in Indonesia, because we don't own anything in Indonesia, no 
land, not even a car.''

Note from Jan: Freeport McMoRan, one of the companies mentioned above, is
one of the world's most notoriously horrible corporations. A few details
from the June 20, 1996 _Earth First!_  : 
- Freeport's CEO, Jim Bob Moffet has been described as "an extremely shrewd,
if ethically challenged businessman". His pay package for 1995 exceeded
$47.6 million.

- Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is on Freeport's BOD, and the
lobbyist of choice for dealings with Indonesia. (He visited with Suharto
just before the bloody invasion of East Timor, to give full American
support.) When OPIC cancelled Freeport's (taxpayer funded) political risk
insurance for the West Papuan mine, Kissinger lobbied President Clinton to
get the policy reinstated.

- "I guarantee you this sombitch is glad we found a copper and gold
mine...[Before Freeport arrived] the young man was raising vegetables or
doing whatever on the mountain with his parents" Jim Bob Moffet showing a
slide of a smiling Irianese youth in a bellhop uniform.

- "We find President Suharto to be a compassionate man." Jim bob Moffet
referring to the former dictator of Indonesia who gained power by killing
500,000 on his home island of Java and later 200,000 more in East Timor.

*Up-to-date information on affairs in West papua can be received by
subscribing to <•••@••.•••>. For a ton of stuff on
Freeport, .... look at Robert Boyers' web page
*This info dates from 1996 so may no longer be current.
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Greenspiration Odyssey <•••@••.•••>
>To: Recipient list suppressed <Recipient list suppressed>
>Date: November 25, 1998 7:39 PM
>Subject: Chevron Kills Protesters In Nigeria
>>Hello All:
>>You no doubt heard about Shell's shameful involvement in the killing of
Ken Saro-Wiwa in Nigeria a few years ago. I recently received a very troubling
>>story about Chevron, another large oil company, and their involvement in
>>killing protestors. I have searched the Internet and found out that the
>>story has been corroborated.
>>It is a chilling story indeed, and I believe it calls out for a boycott of
>>Chevron and an attempt to bring to light the blood on their hands.
>>Any help you can provide to raise this issue, and expose the crimes of
>>Chevron, would be appreciated.
>>For the earth,
>>November 23, 1998
>>Chevron, a San Francisco-based oil company
>>with offices on Market Street, recently
>>responded to a protest of its business practices
>>in Nigeria with murder, helicoptering in commandos
>>to gun down unarmed protestors on an oil rig.
>>Since you'll search the mainstream press in
>>vain for news of this atrocity, here's an eye
>>witness report. It's been verified by other
>>reliable sources.
>>•••@••.••• (Ken McCarthy)
>>Pasted below is a personal account of the Chevron Nigeria raid that we ran
>>in issue #3 of Car Busters, which came out in early October.
>>Randy Ghent
>>CAR BUSTERS Magazine and Resource Centre
>>44 rue Burdeau, 69001 Lyon, France
>>tel.: +(33) 4 72 00 23 57; fax: +(33) 4 78 28 57 78
>>   Over the years Chevron has consistently waged a war on our land,
forests and waters. Go to Awoye community [Nigeria] and see what they have done.
>>Everything there is dead: mangroves, tropical forests, fish, fresh water,
>>wildlife. All killed by Chevron.
>>   So on May 25 I led 121 youths from 42 communities to Parabe [oil]
>>platform to protest against the continuing destruction of our environment
>by Chevron. This was after all our other methods of making our grievances
>known had failed.
>>   We met an officer of the Nigerian Navy. (Chevron uses the military and
>>imported security people from abroad in all its operations in the Niger
>>Delta.) He said he would have to take us to Mr. Davies, a Chevron
>>representative. We all stood on the barge. I addressed them on the issues.
>I told them of the letters we had sent over the years, the numerous
>entreaties for meetings and how we had been ignored. They promised to do
something. Immediately.
>>   On May 28 we saw three helicopters. They came like eagles swooping on
>>chickens. We never expected what followed. As the choppers landed one
after the other discharging soldiers, we heard gunshots and fire. In fact they
>>started shooting commando-style at us even before they landed. They shot
>>everywhere. Arulika and Jola fell. They died instantly. Larry who was near
>>him rushed to his aid, wanting to pick him up; he was also shot.
>>   More soldiers came and more shooting followed. Some of my colleagues
>>jumped over board into the Atlantic; others ran onto the platform. There
>was pandemonium. They shot tear gas. White men flew all the helicopters. I was
>>by this time on the platform with some of my colleagues. We were
>>defenseless, harmless.
>>   We entered the radio room and I called Deji Haastrup. I complained that
>>we were to meet today in the community and instead he sent us soldiers. He
>>replied: "I have warned you. If you want a chance to live, you should
leave the place."
>>   Forty-five minutes later another chopper came. There were four soldiers
>>inside. They joined in the shooting for another hour, this time shooting
>>into the air and shouting like cowboys attacking Indians that were caught
>>unaware. The workers on the platform demanded to be evacuated; they were
>all flown to Meren platform. The soldiers saw me and wanted to shoot me. Lt.
>>Commander Williams shouted at them not to shoot. The army captain who led
>>the operation ordered most of my colleagues locked in a container.
>>   Larry was first taken for first aid. He had been shot in the stomach,
>the legs and elbows. They also flew the corpses of my colleagues away.
>>   As the hours dragged on painfully, Haastrup phoned the platform to say
>>that five of our elders, the governor of Ondo State and senior Chevron
>>officials were waiting at the naval base in Warri. I told Lt. Commander
>>Williams that it was a lie. To show the lies in him I told Deji in the
>>presence of the commander: "You know that you killed a lot of people."
>>   Haastrup replied angrily, "If it means blowing up the platform with you
>>inside, I will not mind doing that." I reminded Haastrup that whatever he
>>was saying on radio was being received by the world. He hung up.
>>   Most of us who went for the peaceful protest were injured; at least 30
>>received gunshot wounds. Several of our engine boats and fishing equipment
>>were destroyed.
>>   We got information that Chevron had lodged a complaint against us that
>we are pirates and that the mobile police would take us for prosecution. My
>>colleagues and I were in a cruel cell until June 22, when we were let go.
>>Our struggle continues.
>>   - Bola Oyinbo
>>The San Francisco Bay Guardian did a story:
>>You can listen, via the internet, to an excellent, non-corporate radio
>>program called "Democracy Now"
>>that did a half hour expose of the Chevron/Nigeria massacre.
>> Find out more about the Greenspiration Odyssey by visiting
>> our homepage at:
>> If you would like to receive regular postings of our
>> eco-travels, please drop us a line at: •••@••.•••

From: Paul A Falvo <•••@••.•••>
Date: December 31, 1998 4:13 PM
Subject: Mobil Oil - coming soon to a province near you?



Thousands of claims for compensation have been pouring in to Mobil Oil, a
United States based multinational oil corporation, for the environmental
problems caused by a major oil spill at the company's offshore exploration
rigs in Akwa Ibom state, Nigeria, following a company offer to compensate
all affected by the incident. Mobil estimates that about 40,000 barrels of
oil, or roughly one-sixth of the giant Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, drifted
west in a January oil spill, the worst in Nigerian history after an underwater
oil pipeline burst. For example Effiong Ikot, a fisherman and owner of a small
business, is among those who have made claims. He has demanded 490,000
naira of Mobil (about US$5,700) for the loss of fishing nets clogged by oil.
He regards Mobil's offer of about US$250 as insulting. SOURCE, "Nigeria
says Mobil power plant plan agreed," September 21, Reuters; "High Claims
in Spill Betray Depth of Nigerian Poverty" By Roger Cohen, New York
Times, September 20, 1998; "Nigeria's Abubakar to seal improved ties with
West" By Dulue Mbachu, Reuters, September 20, 1998.



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