Human Rights Case Against Exxon Mobil Goes Forward

The groups allege that the oil giant gave logistical support to the Indonesian Army, including lending excavating equipment to dig mass graves. Thus far, twelve mass graves have been dug up. An estimated 2,000 Acehnese torture victims have been buried in the Aceh area since 1990.

A federal judge Wednesday said there is sufficient evidence for a jury to decide whether Exxon should be held liable for the actions of Indonesian soldiers who, while guarding Exxon assets, allegedly beat, shot, tortured and raped villagers eight years ago.

Exxon lawyers at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison argue there is no evidence that the soldiers who reportedly injured the plaintiffs were the same guards assigned to protect gas fields and not among the thousands of other troops the Indonesian government deployed to the village of Aceh to restore order there. Exxon also disputes that it had control over the soldiers guarding Exxon facilities.

U.S. District Judge Louis Oberdorfer of the District of Columbia concluded a jury must decide whether to hold Exxon accountable for the alleged actions of the soldiers.

Mobil Oil’s presence goes back at least one hundred years.  The company’s operations expanded between 1965-1968.  During that period the Indonesia army and Islamic coup against Sukarno and the subsequent massacre of a half million to two million suspected leftist, described as one of the worst massacres in history.

An excerpt concerning the nation-wide catastrophe

Kenneth Orr uncovered some information about the killings while studying the Indonesian school system. The stories he recorded give a vivid picture of the different ways in which the killings affected individuals: a schoolteacher sitting on a hastily assembled investigating committee to decide which of his colleagues should die, helping to prevent completely uncontrolled slaughter by doing so; a clever “entrepreneur” making a fortune selling fake PNI membership cards to known PKI leaders; a massive shortage of teachers in the years following the killings; and a girl in the back row crying silently when the events of 1965 were discussed in a civics class in 1981.


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