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Indonesia: What Did Mobil Know?

Mass graves suggest a brutal war on local Indonesian guerrillas--in the oil giant's backyard columns

There are days when Teungku Bintara wonders how he ever survived. For six months in 1990 and 1991 he languished in a military prison camp in Indonesia's Aceh province. One day, Bintara, then the headman of a nearby village, was put inside a room whose walls were splattered with human blood and hair. During an interrogation that left him blind in the right eye, Bintara claims an Indonesian army officer whipped his scalp with a frayed cable, burned his pubic hair with a match, and held live electric wires to his genitals and temples. Another time, the officer threatened to execute Bintara if he did not disclose the name of a Muslim separatist guerrilla leader, despite Bintara's insistence he didn't know him.

Bintara's gruesome experience unfolded only a few hundred yards from the chemical plants and white storage tanks of P.T. Arun, a liquefied natural-gas (LNG) producer In which Indonesia's state-owned oil monopoly, Pertamina, holds a controlling 55% stake and Mobil Corp. owns 35%. At the time of Bintara's detention, the plant employed 1,800 workers and was frequented by several Mobil advisers. Human rights groups have documented Rancong as a known torture site. But Mobil says it was not aware of any such activity. Bintara claims he saw fellow inmates in the Rancong camp being tortured and then tossed "like dogs" onto trucks.