Skeletal remains found buried in building owned by Exxon Mobil

Aceh Kita – June 21, 2007
Students protest against Exxon Mobil in Aceh (Berita Hukum)
Students protest against Exxon Mobil in Aceh (Berita Hukum)

Imran, North Aceh – Residents of the Mee village in the sub-district of Syamtalira Aron, North Aceh, have discovered the remains of what they believe to be part of a skeleton of a person killed during the period of conflict. The bones were found in the area of the Surplus Control Project of the Supply Chain Department at Exxon Mobil Indonesia Cluster I on Wednesday June 20. Residents suspect that other victims may also be buried there.

The find was made after information was received from a resident that had once been detained there and a police officer that worked as an Exxon Mobil security officer at the site. In order to confirm the truth of their suspicions, the residents asked for permission to enter the area and search the building. “In the rear was a kind of grave, and it was there that we found the bones”, said a resident who declined to give their name.

The skeleton resembled human bones such as an upper arm, ribs and skull. Rasyidin (40), a resident of Tanah Luas sub-district claimed that he had once been locked up in the building for 10 days. He said that he was detained on February 2, 2004, after being accused of being involved with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

During the interrogation, he was repeatedly threatened that if he did not confess he would be killed and buried at the back of the building. “If you want, I’ll put you in the grave back there, there are already lots of bodies there”, Rasyidin recalled being told. He said that during the detention he often saw pools of blood left over from people being tortured but admitted to never having directly seen the killing of anyone detained there.

The collection of bones has been taken into police custody at the natural gas exploration project security post. Between 1-5pm hundreds of people watched the bones being uncovered from behind the fence.

GAM representative Tengku Amri, who was also present said he came as to act as a mediator between the crowd who wanted to dismantle the suspected grave site after the bones were found by Exxon Mobil security police. “[I] was afraid the situation would get out of control, there would be a clash, I came as a mediator. However we must confirm this and we will dismantle [the building] in order to allay public suspicion”, he said.

Speaking on behalf of the North Aceh district police chief, Syamtalira Aron sectoral deputy police commissioner Tirta Nur Alam said that they are currently seeking conformation by bringing in witnesses to ask for clarification about suspicions that there are other graves at the site. “Of course we need witnesses first, because what we want to dismantle is a private house [Exxon Mobil – Ed]”, said Nur Alam. [adw]