I wanted to say something about the executions happening tonight in Indonesia, but not on Facebook because I feel like people just get fired up on Facebook. So here’s my two cents worth, on an issue that’s been huge in Australia since I was ten years old:
Today is a pretty momentous day for Australia, it’s the day the Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran will face the firing squad after ten years of appeals and imprisonment in Bali. I don’t know why, for some reason this is hitting me particularly hard. Is it because they’ve made so much effort to rehabilitate themselves? Myuran has learned to paint and draw, and passed on these skills to other prisoners. Andrew has refocused on his faith and even become a pastor while behind bars. Both men have been actively opposed to drugs behind bars, trying to help rehabilitate other prisoners.
I’ve always been morally opposed to the death penalty, and I honestly acknowledge that this is probably because I was brought up in Australia. Perhaps if I’d grown up on the streets of Indonesia and seen the negative effects that drugs can have on people’s lives I’d feel differently. However, being too young to remember other notorious executions, this is is the first example I’ve really seen of the fruitlessness of international diplomacy. We can be as nice to Indonesia as we want, they’re not going to change their minds. To a certain extent, you can see their point of view – these men broke their law, and they deserve to face the penalties.
This penalty – execution – is the highest price anyone can pay. After tonight, these men, who’ve worked so hard to help other prisoners and the wider community, will cease to exist. Their bodies will be returned to their families, who will bury them, mourning the loss of two healthy, happy men. What right do the Indonesians, or anyone for that matter, have to say “you no longer deserve to exist? You no longer deserve the right to live and breathe, to try and learn from your mistakes and pay reparations for what you’ve done.”
Surely it would be more productive and a more effective punishment to keep these men in substandard conditions in a Balinese gaol for the rest of their lives. They will continue to work to abolish drugs in prison, whilst also being punished for their actions in the worst way – losing their freedom, rights and privileges, and having to live in the harsh conditions of an Indonesian gaol.
It’s currently 9.20pm, and it seems as though all hope is lost for these two young Australians. I only hope that something is gained out of the execution of these two men and the other seven prisoners due to be executed tonight.