"Timor Sea oil is stained in blood."
to: Phillips Shareholders, Directors, and Management
from: Charles Scheiner, East Timor Action Network
re: Phillips’ operations in the Timor Sea
date: May 13, 1996
As you know, Phillips is actively drilling for oil and natural gas in
the Timor Sea, and has recently expanded its stake there. We urge you to
suspend operations there until East Timor is independent.
Timor Sea oil is stained in blood.
In 1975, the Indonesian military regime invaded the neighboring
half-island of East Timor, launching a massive assault that has taken over
200,000 lives -- one-third of the East Timorese population. East Timor is
still under military occupation, in violation of numerous U.N. resolutions
and well-established international legal principles.
Many civilians were murdered as Indonesia tried to wipe out the
population of East Timor. Mr. Siong, an East Timorese refugee, described
one incident in 1975:
“After we threw in those dead bodies [to the sea], some Chinese
Timorese came, 17 or 18. I knew all of these people, they were my friends
and neighbors. People came in groups of two or three or four, stood on the
wharf, and were shot. One group after the other coming and coming, killed
and thrown in the sea. Two were couples, one with young children who went
to relatives... Sometimes some of the people who were to be killed had to
help us tie other people and then after it they were killed. Some are shot
and fall into the sea at once, but if they fall on the wharf we have to
tie the pipe to them. We are trembling, we are nearly gone mad, but we
don’t know what to do, just do whatever the Indonesians want.”
On November 12, 1991, Indonesian troops shot into a group of unarmed
East Timorese attending a memorial procession, killing more than two
hundred people in cold blood. One month later, Phillips signed its first
contracts to exploit East Timorese oil. The following year, when Senators
David Boren [on Phillips Board of Directors in 1996] and Claiborne Pell
attempted to visit East Timor to see for themselves what has happening,
the Indonesian dictatorship refused to let them in. A year after that,
these two Senators (and 41 others) wrote President Clinton that they were:
“... greatly concerned over the tragic situation in the former
Portuguese colony of East Timor, which was invaded by Indonesia in 1975
and continues to be the scene of widespread human rights abuses. We hope
that you will ... stress American concern over these abuses and the
pressing need to have greater access to East Timor for international
“We believe that the United States should review its policy on East
Timor with an eye toward facilitating serious negotiations at the United
Nations that might alter the unacceptable status quo. These negotiations
would be in pursuit of the right of self-determination of the East
Timorese people, a course of action which the Senate supported. ... We
believe that the United States should work with its allies in Asia and
elsewhere to convince Indonesia by diplomatic means that it is not in
Indonesia's long-term interest to pursue the policies it has followed in
East Timor since 1975.”
Since then, the human rights situation in East Timor has deteriorated
further. In the last few months, hundreds of young East Timorese have
risked their lives and abandoned their homeland by seeking political
asylum at foreign embassies in Jakarta, a thousand miles from East Timor.
Should Phillips be profiting from Indonesian genocide?
Timor Sea oil is stolen property.
The Timor Sea lies between East Timor and Australia, far from
Indonesia. Yet Indonesia is selling East Timor’s oil to Phillips and other
The two-decade-long Indonesian military occupation of East Timor is not
accepted under international law, yet Australia and Indonesia signed a
treaty in 1989 to exploit East Timorese resources. When Portugal (the
UN-recognized administering authority over East Timor) challenged that
treaty in the International Court of Justice, the Court was unable to rule
because Indonesia, an international outlaw, refuses to accept the court’s
jurisdiction. Nevertheless, the court did rule that East Timor has a
fundamental legal right to self-determination.
Two weeks after the 1975 invasion, Deputy Undersecretary of State
Lawrence Eagleburger [on Phillips' board in 1996] participated in an
internal State Department meeting on East Timor with Secretary Kissinger,
who (with President Ford) had left Indonesia’s capital the day before the
invasion, giving the green light. As the State Department leaders
discussed their awareness that the U.S. was sending weapons to Indonesia
for their onslaught on East Timor, in violation of U.S. and international
law, Mr. Eagleburger stressed the need for secrecy: “If it's part of the
written record, it will be dragged out eventually." The U.S. went on to
supply Indonesia with 90 percent of its arms during the first years of
invasion, occupation, and genocide.
When East Timor finally gets its freedom, resistance leaders say, it
will be eager to do business with international oil companies. However,
they will not look favorably upon corporations who participated in the
theft of their blood-stained resources while they were being murdered,
tortured, and occupied by the Indonesian military.
Which category does Phillips choose to be in?
Thank you for your attention and concern.
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