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Acheh Human Rights Online

Acheh Human Rights Online

URGENT APPEAL:Ref: UA29 / 04. 9 November 2004

NAME: The villagers of Me Aron, Glock, and Kanot, North Acheh VIOLATIONS: Alleged Exxon Mobil chemical spill pollutes drinking water and rice fields.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please copy the letter below the Background information or write in your own words and send to:

Mr Ir. RAHMAT WITOELAR, Minister for Environment: ,

AND please send Cc: ;

President Rex Tillerson, Exxon Mobil Corporation,Irving, Texas 75039-2298 Click on and fill out boxes as the sample below and paste the letter in the comments box.

Who would you like to contact : What area does your question / comment cover : Subject : Are you a? : other OPTIONAL: PLEASE ALSO SEND APPEALS TO: Diplomatic Representatives of Indonesia in your country. Link to Indonesian Embassies worldwide Please cut and paste and send this appeal to your mailing lists

BACKGROUND On Monday 2 November 2004, 32 heads of families accompanied by dozens of women and their children a from the villages of Me Aron, Glock, and Kanot in the Syamtalira Aron sub-district, North Acheh, held a peaceful demonstration at the Point A gate (production facilities used by Exxon-Mobil) of Exxon Mobil Lhoksukon, North Acheh,.

The demonstrators accused Exxon-Mobil of spilling chemical materials in early October. The chemical, they claimed, has been flowing through the drains into their rice fields. Most villagers in the area are rice farmers. The pollution, they complained, is causing skin infection, irritation, itchiness as well as coughing. "The bad odour has subsided now, but during the first month, the smell was unbearable and chickens drinking the drain water died immediately. Now it is our turn to suffer difficulty in breathing, itchiness and coughing," said Ainiah, a mother, who participated in the demonstration.

Worse, the chemical waste has seeped into water wells that are near the drains, causing the water to be polluted and undrinkable. "The water looks oily, after washing ourselves with this water we immediately got the itch," said another woman, Nurhabsah.

At the demonstration, 5 representatives of the villagers were invited into the complex and were received by a Public Relations officer of Exxon-Mobil.

The demonstrators said that the pollution has reached the stage of great concern. "We are not looking for money, we are demanding to be freed from these diseases caused by the chemical." said Mrs. Ainiah.

Exxon-Mobil spokesman Deva Rahman acknowledged that there had been many complaints about the chemical spillage early last month. But he denied that Exxon had spilled the chemical as alleged by the demonstrators. He suspected the chemical was dumped by unknown people.

Exxon Mobil natural gas plant exports to Japan and South Korea. The plant is one of the largest resource projects in Indonesia and generates more than $1 billion a year in government revenues that go directly to Jakarta. The Achehnese have not benefited from the province's enormous natural wealth and that industrial development projects have been introduced merely to provide employment opportunities to outsiders mainly Javanese. Exxon-Mobil was formerly implicated in human rights abuses in collusion with the Indonesian military against civilians.

Dear Minister Witoelar,

I am writing to express deep concern regarding the allegation of spills of chemical waste by Exxon Mobil Lhoksukon,.that have contaminated critical water resources and caused environmental harm and harm to health to the villagers of Me Aron, Glock, and Kanot in the Syamtalira Aron sub-district, North Acheh. The chemical material has been flowing through the drains into the rice fields and the polluted water is causing skin infection, irritation, itchiness as well as coughing. Initially the bad odour was unbearable and chickens drinking the drain water died immediately. The chemical waste has seeped into water wells that are near the drains, and the water which looks oily causes itching after drinking I call on you to urgently

* conduct a thorough investigation in the Syamtalira Aron sub-district, North Acheh area to determine the full nature and extent of the impact of pollution and damage to soil, food crops, underground water and its impact on public health.

* ensure safe drinking water the Syamtalira Aron sub-district, North Acheh area at the earliest. Extensive health survey must be carried out urgently. In the meantime, the governmental agencies should open up sub centres and Primary Health Centers in the villages of Syamtalira Aron sub-district, North Acheh, so that basic health facilities are made available to the people.

* 4. The Ministry of the Environment should carry out a comprehensive investigation of Exxon Mobil. The investigation should include all the chemicals, which are being used in the entire production cycle. If responsible for the discharge of the toxic pollutants Exxon Mobil must be held accountable by the concerned governmental agencies and full compensation must be provided to the affected population for widespread damage to crops, soil and people's health..

Yours sincerely

Copies sent to: Mr KLAUS TOEPFER, Executive Director, United Nations Environmental Program, President Rex Tillerson, Exxon Mobil Corporation,Irving, Texas 75039-2298

ACHEH HUMAN RIGHTS ONLINE and Acheh Women in Crisis (AWIC) are subsidiaries of Achehnese Community of Australia

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