by this but the one thing we are forbidden is to be surprised that it is so. Harold A. Nelson University of Texas-Pan American No Argument Not too surprisingly, I was fascinated by your editorial, “A Professor’s Resignaprofessor at the University of Texas and also no longer find it a morally-acceptable place of employment. One difference between Professor Feld and myself is that he resigned because of his moral repugnance; I was terminated. However, I was fired for a similar reason, arguing with the system. The university should be a place for argument, for mulling over, massaging ideas. We should debate every day there is anything worth talking about, and I feel my writing here . to the Observer and Steven Feld writing his editorial are a fundamental sign of the failure of our Texas so-called higher edu.cation. The system is not working. When our Chancellor William H. Cunningham can reply.to Dr. Feld without really facing up to most of Dr. Feld’s criticisms, plus feel a need to write a demeaning wisecrack about how Dr. Feld had not actually been in the McMoRan mine site in Indonesia, implies the Chancellor thinks learning requires being there. It’s as if he requires children to put their hands in the fire so they can understand that fire is hot. At UT, the faculty is not supposed to argue these things. Dr. Feld argued with the system and lost…. I admire Professor Feld for his courage in challenging Chancellor Cunningham. I hope many faculty on the Austin campus shared his arguments, as I hope some of our faculty and students have shared in the discussions which I have instigated at UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. Thank you for publishing material like this. Thanks for setting up the potential for continuing the debate about the openness and democratic ideals of the university, not just our University of Texas, but universities everywhere. Peace! Larry Egbert, MD, MPH formerly Professor of Anesthesiology & Pain Management UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas Look at the Evidence On a daily basis, I document human rights violations all over the globe, perpetrated by governments and nongovernmental actors with impunity. So it was with some sadness that I read “Cunningham Replies” response to Steven Feld’s letter of resignation was tiringly reminiscent of so many responses to the “alleged” abuses of human rights. Grappling with the possibility that one’s colleagues, business associates, or one’s government may be complicit in human rights violations is difficult. One’s first instinct is denial. But is it conceivable that human rights abuses perpetrated by the Indonesian government could occur on Freeport property under the noses of Freeport Indonesia officials without their knowledge? Corporations doing business internationally depend on host governments for their continued profit. Individuals out of perceived “necessity” disconnect from troubling suspicions that business collaborators \(in this case a govtorturing and killing their citizens, or that they themselves could be drawn in, either passively or actively, to participate in violations of human rights. Cunningham notes correctly that “human rights” concerns are…subject to distortion and highly charged rhetoric.” However, in the case of Indonesia, the distortion and rhetoric have been largely generated by the government itself. Over the past five years, the human rights abuses committed by the Indonesian military have been continually denounced by foreign governments and international bodies. It was not distortion or rhetoric to which the international community was responding when, as noted by Human Rights Watch/Asia in its September 1994 report, The Limits Of Openness: Human Rights In Indonesia And East Timor, after the November 1991 massacre in Dili, East Timor, both Canada and the Netherlands temporarily suspended new foreign aid allocations; in October 1992 the US Congress cut off IMET \(International Military Educain 1992 and in 1993, the UN Secretary General sent a personal envoy to inquire into human rights abuses in East Timor; ‘r in March 1993, the UN Commission on Human Rights passed a resolution condemning human rights abuses by the Indonesian military in East Timor. Two recent reports by reputable and credible sources have linked Freeport Indonesia directly with human rights violations committed by the Indonesian government in Irian Jaya. In rebuttal, Mr. Cunningham quotes an official from the Indonesian National Commission’On Human Rights in absolving Freeport Indonesia from any involvement in human rights abuses. Should he be so trusting? The US Dept. of State’s Country Reports On Human Rights Practices For 1994 notes “continuing skepticism about the Commission’s independence, in part because its members are appointed by the President.” It goes on to say that “commission members actively looked into many of the numerous complaints…and in some cases showed themselves willing to question government actions.” Human Rights Watch/Asia, in its above-quoted report, titles a chapter: “The Indonesian Human Rights Commission: Weak But Better Than Expected.” These are hardly rousing endorsements. Freedom House, in its 1994-95 annual report on human rights, Freedom in the World, condemns the lack of many freedoms, including freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of association. It mentions Freeport by name in noting areas where the government has withdrawn services in some Irian Jayan villages in Freeport’s mineral exploration zone, in order to encourage people to relocate in Irian Jaya. Is Mr. Cunningham surprised that no witnesses corroborated Freeport’s involvement in the government’s torture and murder when they were interviewed by a government commission on human rights? What protections would witnesses have against retaliation by the government? Its past torture of those who oppose it are well documented. These realities compel an individual in the position of authority and significant responsibility of William Cunningham to examine the evidence of human rights violations more closely before accepting the assurances of company officials that Freeport is blameless. How many ounces of gold is a human life worth? Charlotte McCann Refugee Legal Support Service Coordinator Human . Rights Documentation Exchange, Austin WE PRINT YOUR MAIL Write Dialogue 307 West 7th Street Austin, Tx 78701 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11
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