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ExxonMobil blood money March 29, 2007

Posted by elizabethwong in Environment, Human Rights, International, Malaysia, Southeast Asia, Women.
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My eyebrows raised late at night when I read an email from my former colleague, K. Shan, who now works as the Coordinator of Amnesty International Malaysia. By the time I finished it, I was almost close to tears.

ExxonMobil, one of the oil and gas companies in Southeast Asia with an appalling human rights record in Aceh, which we have been campaigning against for many years, has decided to pull a PR stunner on our shores when they awarded RM 1.3 million to 2 women’s rights organisations – WCC and WAO.

I visited the areas surrounding the ExxonMobil oil and gas plant in Leuksomawe, Aceh, together with villagers who had suffered from torture, sexual assaults, massacres and disappearances. The collusion between this giant oil company and the Indonesian Army is well-documented.

The grave of my late and very dear friend Jaafar Siddiq, lawyer and human rights activist lay only a few kilometres away.

We founded the Solidarity Campaign for Human Rights in Aceh together with several other friends in the region in 1999. One of his major work was investigations and documentation into the activities surrounding the ExxonMobil plant and corporate complicity in systematic human rights violations. For his work he received a number of death threats.

Jaafar disappeared in 2000 and his body was found only a month later with four others.

Mutilated.

If one googles “ExxonMobil human rights”, one will find more than a million entries, and some 40,000 are related to Aceh. ExxonMobil is estimated to have extracted US$40 billion from Aceh alone.
Now they want to ‘gift’ their ill-gotten, blood-tainted tax-deductible earnings here, and we take this as if the recent past has been made right?

Blood money is blood money, and it has Jaafar’s smeared on each and every one of the ringgit received by these two groups. This is no different from money laundering.

Please visit the link below for the full story on the ‘gift’ (available for a week)
http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/nst/Wednesday/National/20070328075417/Article/local1_html

K. Shan writes,

It is therefore interesting to learn about Exxon Mobil
and their human rights record.

Even by oil company standards, ExxonMobil’s human
rights record is appalling. Amnesty International has
documented many cases around the world where oil
exploration and extraction is fueling armed conflict
and contributing to human rights abuses, such as
through the use of security forces to protect oil
company staff and assets; violent repression of
protest; and forcible displacement of large
populations of local people. Examples include Sudan,
Nigeria and Colombia.

ExxonMobil is being sued for complicity in human
rights violations in Aceh, Indonesia, including
allowing its facilities to be used for torture and
interrogation. Human rights investigators and
journalists have reported that the Indonesian military
has used Exxon Mobil facilities to torture its victims
and used company equipment to dig mass graves for
burial of murder victims.

In Chad and Cameroon, citizen opposition to the
environmental and social consequences of ExxonMobil’s
Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline has been met with brutal government suppression.
In Colombia, an entire village was forcibly relocated
last year to make way for the expansion of South America’s
largest open pit coal mine, majority owned ExxonMobil’s wholly owned subsidiary Intercor. ExxonMobil then sold Intercor to its minority owners.
And when Exxon merged with Mobil in 1999, it became
the first U.S. employer ever to rescind non-discrimination
policy covering sexual orientation.

Since 1997, Exxon Mobil has spent $47 million in
lobbying government officials. In the 2000 election
cycle, ExxonMobil and its employees donated
$1,375,250, 89 percent of which went to Republican
candidates, helping to ensure that fellow Texan and
oil executive George W. Bush got elected to the White
House.

In 2001,its investment has paid off. ExxonMobil
lobbied hard against the Kyoto Protocol, the only
international treaty to address global warming.In
March 2001, the Bush Administration announced that the
US would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

ExxonMobil have spent a staggering $7.9 billion last
year on exploration and development, with much of it
in pristine ecosystems, such as the Arctic Refuge and
the sensitive habitat of the endangered Western
Pacific Grey Whale off the coast of Sakhalin Island,
Russia.

Some of West Africa’s last untouched rainforests are
threatened by ExxonMobil’s Chad Cameroon pipeline,
which is partially financed by US taxpayer dollars via
the World Bank, while the company’s proposed McKenzie
pipeline may jeopardize important forests in Alaska
and Canada.

ExxonMobil is also a major funder of The Competitive
Enterprise Institute(CEI) which has received
US$2,005,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998. CEI is a
Washington-based conservative think tank and is
currently at the center of the global warming
misinformation campaign.

CEI has tackled tough and contentious scientific
issues such as global warming, carbon dioxide and
fuel-economy standards, most recently expanding into
the politics of food.The organization mixes
free-market ideas with the antiregulation and
environmental movements, but unlike most institutes
that are content just to think and speak, the CEI does
not shy away from forcing action through the courts or
the legislative process.

CEI, among many other statements denying the
seriousness of global warming, has argued that climate
change would create a “milder, greener, more
prosperous world” and that “Kyoto was a power grab
based on deception and fear”. In addition to leading
the campaign to convince the public that global
warming is uncertain, CEI has weighed in on pesticide
risk and endocrine disrupting chemicals – both of
which pose no threat to human health, in CEI’s view -
and has supported regulatory “takings” measures.

For more information-please visit
http://www.stopexxonmobil.org/

Human rights work,just like any other work involves
cost and spendings and have turned out to be an
expensive state of affairs.NGOs and groups in Malaysia
might have came across at many times the question of
the ethics and the big picture of what a cause
actually should be or is.The longstanding argument of
questioning the ends rather then the means is hereby
challenged.

What is the actual price that is attached to the so
called ‘means’ that is necessary to meet a noble end?

What is the cost for a cause actually? Do we practice
and assume upon ourselves the very pertinent judgment
values and principle stand that we often demand from
others?

Or are we-immune from this set of questions
and therefore a new set is much needed. If so-what
should it be? or is it just wrong for such questions
to be asked?

Comments»

1. Mocha May - March 29, 2007

Shame on them.
They should have the decency to return this filthy money.

2. Black - March 29, 2007

Yeah!!!

Shame on them…..

3. zewt - March 29, 2007

everywhere…. the evil behind oil continues…. oil seems to be the reason for many many many many things.

4. Muhammad Yunus - March 29, 2007

I was shocked to learn that Exxon is actually a bucket of texanpiss – wonder what kind of hidden mayhem they are doing behind our backyard.

5. Brian Fong - March 29, 2007

Hi EW,

I would like to view this from a different perspective. AI and all affected party should pursue the human rights issue with ExxonMobil on one front, on the other hand, if ExxonMobil want to give out some money to NGOs or any other organisation so that that NGO/Org can use the money to do good… why not?

It may be argued that the money is make from the sweat and blood or sacrifices of others and so any decent group should not use it.

But let’s look at reality. By not using their money/grant – does it hurts them, as a corporation? nope. but becos the money/grant is given to an NGO/org which can use it for other good like building shelter for the homeless, buying food for the old people etc… the so call bad money is actually put into good use. So in a way, by asking other NGO not to take the money we are also depriving help to the needy. That i think is not your intention.

A practical way to tackle this is to continue highlighting their poor human rights record, bringing them to court where the evidence is suffice and taking their money and dispensing it to the real needy.

To be idealistic is good but we cant ignore the fact that there are people out there who really need help and we definitely cant impose our ideals on them unless we give them an alternative – to survive.

6. K.Shan - March 29, 2007

Dear Brian..the question is simple and timely for the Msian NGOs to answer.

What is the actual price that is attached to the so called ‘means’ that is necessary to meet a noble end?

What is the cost for a cause actually?

Do we practice and assume upon ourselves the very pertinent judgment values and principle stand that we often demand from
others?

NGOs have to observe a greater deal of ethics and standards to remain credible and relevant to the current politics and aspiration of the day.NGOs must not be seen to make black money clean.

NGOs exist to break these vicious circle and deception in the name of a cause and humanitarianism-that exist only to gain the needed endorsement and support from key public figures/establishments and the public that they hold ransom for their govt lobby and activities.While-they continue with the questionable activities.

I suggest-you read Chomsky manufacturing consent argument to understand this further.

NGOs who are financially funded by these companies are just another extension of the corporation and most dangerously-becomes the subconscious PR wing of the corporation and will be used to counter public concerns on their activities.

The idea of activism is not that narrow and simplistic for us to merely put forth the record and wait for god to deal with the solution.

Also-let us not forget that the courts has its own weakness and loopholes and often makes utilitarian and policy decisions.Courts are always a small part of an effort and not the total bet.

I dont think the Sudanese villagers or even their NGO assist will be able to bring a case to court and wait 20 years to see a piece of document.This cannot be activism and if i may say-to Kenny Hilli-sh-where the one with the resources decide on what the one without should do or re-act.

I strongly suggest that you watch the documentary called the Corporation and we can discuss your issues more.

Finally-i admire your concern to feed the poor and the needy.As i will say-its a matter of choice and option.There are enough funds and resources (tangible-intangible) to meet the end.the question is-it is just not reaching and be abused for some reasons.We dont need Exxon to fund these concerns.It is just another vicious cycle and an illusion of moral dilemma created and manufactured in the interest of profit.

There are people out there in need of help-let us help them by tackling the core and pertinent issue and the big picture of a cause rather than humanitarian gimmick.

K.Shan

7. nat - March 29, 2007

what has WAO had to say about this so far? and i don’t recall having heard about WCC before…..

brian/shan – good points, both. hmmm…….

8. keroppi - March 29, 2007

I was shocked when i read about this from susan’s blog, then i went to malaysiakini website to read shan’s letter. And learnt about how and what did Exxon Mobil done before, and also about human’s rights violation. Believed me, i still shocked to hear about this. Maybe i never really sensitive about what’s happend in the world that i never heard of.

I went into real silent .. Why I couldn’t able to say now. If i do, then I break my work enthic, but if i keep quite I don’t think I will able to sleep well.

Just now, I chatted with my friend from CRC online, I told him this …
“I agreed NGO shold be very careful when taking grant or fund from other. If we are NGO who defend and stand for human rights how could we take fund from an corporation which is violate human rights” ..

I looked at brian’s comment, which is a good comment too. We can use this “excuse”

I am sad. Because it contradict to what i believed.

I don’t noe what to said ..

excuse me from being annoymous.. thanks.

9. bvxcj - March 29, 2007

Now you know why the US supported Suharto’s coup d’etat in 1970 to topple Sukarno and supported him throughout his 32-year long reign– to control Indonesia’s oil. Just as Cheney is doing in Iraq now and Bush is trying to do in Iran and Venezuela

10. Black - March 30, 2007

Still no respond from WAO and WCC.

11. Ada Apa dengan Exxonmobil and NGO funding??? « Amin Iskandar @ Black - March 30, 2007

[...] tentang ini boleh juga dibaca di blog Eli dan [...]

12. Muhammad Yunus - April 1, 2007

I am impressed at how Shan explained his arguments in response to what Brian commented. However, I have always believed that activism and things alike is a luxury. The delicate concern is how do we necessarily explain to the under poverage, and starved about the potentials for food and shelter that we decided to turn down due to some vicious cycle that needs to end – which probably they would not not understand, but refuse to understand due to the dire context or situation they are currently in.

The subconcious PR argument is interesting. But i have to differ as i believe that the informed cluster of the society – who make up the populus of activists anyway, are aware of this humanitarian gimmick hence the danger of public concern being nullified is a non-issue. It may work for the mass majority who are ignorant of the atrocities of Exxon, hence it is the responsibility and challenge of the informed to expose such evil to the masses – isn’t that what activism is about too.

Verdict: An informed person can and will bite the hands that feed them. Only dogs don’t – and cats. Informed people do not exist in a community which are poverty stricken and dying of starvation.

13. Aliansi Bloggers Nasional « Amin Iskandar @ Black - April 6, 2007

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