US envoy to the Middle East Anthony Zinni is in Indonesia’s Aceh province this week. On Wednesday he held talks with the military chief of Indonesia’s Aceh province as part peace talks between Jakarta and separatist rebels.
Meanwhile, the State Department is urging a federal court judge to dismiss a human rights lawsuit against Exxon Mobil over its operations in the war torn province of Aceh. The oil and gas rich region has been struggling for independence from Indonesia since 1976.
The lawsuit was filed last year by the Washington-based International Labor Rights Fund, on behalf of 11 Acehnese villagers. It claims that ExxonMobil is responsible for grave human rights abuses committed by Indonesian security forces in Indonesia’s war-torn Aceh province. Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest corporation, has extensive operations in Aceh and works closely with the Indonesian military.
While the State Department could have remained neutral in the case, it came down squarely on the company’s side, saying the case could harm Washington’s so-called campaign against terrorism. The Department’s action on the case comes amid a major push to normalize military relations with Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
Democracy Now called the State department yesterday but they said they could not join us on the show. We also called Exxon Mobil but our calls were not returned.
- Jeff Vogt, International Labor Rights Fund, the Washington DC based group that is bringing the suit against Exxon Mobil on behalf of 11 Indonesian villagers.
- Radhi Darmansyah, Acehnese activist and international affairs coordinator of SIRA, the Student Referendum Information Center. He is based in Washington DC.