By George Junus Aditjondro
Zulu kings, when they die and are buried, must take a big number of slaves with them to serve them into their after life. Such was practiced after Shaka, the Zulu king, was killed by his half-brother, Dingaan, in 1828.
This tradition, which has been abolished in South Africa, together with the abolition of slavery in 1834, was also practiced among certain Dayak and Poso etho-linguistic groups in the past, where near the graves of their tribal elders, there are a number of unmarked graves of their slaves, who were also killed and buried to serve their masters in the after life.
Probably, Libya’s self-appointed leader, Moammer al-Qaddafi, has this pre-Islamic image in mind, when he let his armed forces, police, snipers, mercenaries, and even fighter planes kill one thousand of his citizens, since the current Arab uprising swept into the oil rich country on February 16, starting in Libya’s second largest city, Benghazi.
Ironically, Qaddafi repeatedly told the demonstrators, that he refuses to step down, and will fight the opposition to his last drop of blood, and “die as a martyr (syahid).” This is completely ridiculous, because the struggle to end the Libyan dictatorship has already claimed 1,000 martyrs in Libya, much more than in any other Arabic nation in the fertile crescent around the Mediterranean Sea, from the Maghribi (West) to the Masyrik (East).
Indonesia has felt the waves of the Libyan revolution, with the resignation of the Libyan ambassador to Indonesia, Salaheddin M. Al-Bishari, in protest against Qaddafi’s gross human rights violations. Other Libyan diplomats in India, Bangladesh, China, Malaysia, Australia, the USA, the Libyan mission at the UN, and in the Foreign Affairs Ministry in
Tripoli have taken similar steps. In addition, Libyan Justice Minister and Minister of Interior, have also resigned, in protest against the mass killings of unharmed civilians.
On the economic front, Qaddafi’s blood thirsty repression of Libya’s demonstrators has caused a backlash for Indonesian corporations in oil and gas explorations and civil engineering projects.
Indonesia’s largest listed oil company, Medco Energi Internasional, and Indonesia’s state oil company, Pertamina, have curtailed their exploration activities as thousands of foreigners fled widespread bloodshed, with Norwegian energy company Statoil had begun evacuating its non-Libyan staff.
Medco itself has about 80 personnel, including 15 Indonesians, at the field. The company had slowed drilling operations in its Area 47 oil and gas block. Located in Libya’s Ghadames Basin, this bloc is estimated to hold about 2.15 billion barrels of oil equivalent. Medco had projected the bloc would produce between 50,000 to 100,000 barrels per day in 2014.
Meanwhile, Pertamina had won tenders to manage the Sirt oil bloc with an estimated oil reserve of 400 million barrels and the Sabrata offshore oil bloc that has reserves of around 690 million barrels, through a joint venture with Libya’s National Oil Corporation, and had invested $100 million in those ventures.
However, as far as employment opportunies are concerned, the biggest loss for Indonesian companies is experienced by civil engineering giant, PT WIKA (Wijaya Karya), which had to evacuate 200 persons of its work force on Friday, last week, via Tunisia. They were working on a US$ 16 million project, building the interior of the Qirji Investment Complex in Tripoli.
Those 200 workers are part of the Indonesian citizens whom the government plans to evacuate from Libya.
Analysts at OSK Research and Mandiri Sekuritas said that it was difficult to asses how the turmoil across the Arab world would affect the oil companies’ operations. Raditya Christian Artono, from Mandiri Sekuritas, however, said Medco’s future activity in Libya would depend on who would emerge as the country’s leader. “If this unrest develops into a civil war, or if there is a new leader in Libya and he does not honor agreements made by the current government, then there will be a problem,” he said.
Reuters reported that US crude futures hit a two-and-a-half year high on Tuesday, February 22, at $93.06 a barrel in New York after the violence in Libya led to 100,000 bpd of the country’s 1.6 million bpd oil output being taken offline.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that the rupiah fell on Tuesday, by the most in more than a month on speculation investors were shunning emerging-market assets as the political turmoil in the Middle East spread. The rupiah fell 0.3 percent to 8,875 per dollar. Eventually, shares in Medco, fell 4 percent to close at Rp 3,025 (Jakarta Globe, Febr. 22, 2011).
A completely different feeling about the Libyan bloodshed exists among former GAM (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka) combatants, who had laid down their weapons and are currently re-building their homeland as businessmen and legislators – of the ruling Partai Aceh -- in the provincial and district parliaments in Aceh.
In the late 1980s, thousands of them, then still young men, spent months doing military training in Libya as guests of Moammer al-Qaddafi. So, apart from the military training, they had benefitted from the hospitality of ordinary Libyan families, with whom they had socialized.
Therefore, Acehnese and all other fellow humans should encourage a global boycot of Libyan oil and gas, and withdraw their investments from Libya, as long as Qaddafi is still at the helm of that country.
The author teaches at the Religious and Cultural Studies post-graduate program at the Sanata Dharma University in Yogyakarta.
Notte: DR. Aditjondro wished Tempo Semanal to published this article. The article has published by Jakarta Globe, February 2011.