A sorry tale

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Like others, I have been appalled by the barbaric execution state murder of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran together with six others by Indonesia. Our northern neighbour defends the killings as part of their ‘war’ on drugs.

A Filipino woman, Mary Jane Veloso, won a temporary reprieve from President Joko Widodo after another woman, I understand her cousin, “voluntarily surrendered” to police in The Philippines for recruiting Veloso to work as a maid and planting the drugs.

Earlier the Frenchman Serge Atlaoui won a temporary reprieve pending a legal challenge.

Australia has now recalled its ambassador for consultations. This is now seen as part of the routine by Indonesia. It was probably the least we could do. Had we not done it we would have been seen as weak. In January this year when a Brazilian was shot Brazil took the further step of refusing to accept the credentials of the new Indonesian ambassador in Brasilia. That precipitated a genuine diplomatic crisis.

Apart from Abbott earlier calling into play our aid for the Aceh tsunami, I think he and Julie Bishop handled the issue well. What they now need to do is mount an international campaign against the death penalty. I understand that there are 12 other Australians on death row around the world. Will they get the same attention?

Peter Hartcher finds President Joko Widodo weak, pathetically weak, almost beyond belief:

Joko Widodo, who took power just six months ago with stratospheric approval ratings, should have been feted when he appeared before his party’s national congress earlier this month.

Instead, he was humiliated. As he sat in the front row, his party’s chairperson, Megawati Soekarnoputri, harangued him from the lectern. She said that he owed the presidency to her. She told him to do as he’s told.

“It goes without saying that the president and vice president must toe the party line,” said Megawati, herself a former president and the daughter of Indonesia’s late founder, Soekarno.

“As the ‘extended hands’ of the party, you are its functionaries. If you do not want to be called party functionaries, just get out!”

Megawati’s speech won applause described by the Indonesian media as thunderous. And the president’s speech, which he had with him, ready to be delivered?

It was not heard. Jokowi, the nickname by which he’s universally known, was denied the opportunity to speak to his party congress. It was, in all, a brutal and calculated putdown.

He meekly accepted this public humiliation. When reporters asked his response to Megawati’s tirade, he replied: “It was very good.” It was abject. But she is the power behind his throne. He now finds that he has no dignity serving her, yet he cannot rule without her.

There will be plenty of other opinion pieces. Sunil Badami thinks our case is weakened by our own defiance of international human rights standards. Gay Alcorn says the time for politeness is over. She highlights the appalling behaviour of attorney general HM Prasetyo and reminds us of the incredible allegations of corruption made by Muhammad Rifan, the former lawyer for Chan and Sukumaran, who says the judges asked for more than $130,000 to give them a prison term of less than 20 years.

Alcorn points out that a Nigerian man killed was convicted of possessing just 50g of heroin. Chan and Sukumaran were certainly organisers of wholesale drug importation, but to Australia, not Indonesia. The Australian Federal Police did the work to catch them and certainly erred by not nicking them in Sydney rather than tipping off the Indonesians. At that point, however, it would have made sense for Indonesia to hand them over. The AFP could have interrogated them about suppliers and distribution channels, matters which the Indonesians have shown no interest in.

As things worked out Chan and Sukumaran rehabilitated (would this have happened in a Sydney jail?) and were working on rehabilitating others. Indonesia has now deprived itself of this resource. Thus it perpetrates its ‘war on drugs’.

As Tony Burke MP said:

Lives lost. Nothing gained.

Finally, here’s a painting of a heart done by Sukumaran signed by his fellow death row inmates and titled “Satu hati, satu rasa di dalam cinta” (One heart, one feeling in love):

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13 thoughts on “A sorry tale”

  1. Let’s not forget the type of people we are talking about here


    ….and think about that as our ambassador is withdrawn from Indonesia for what I see as shameless political opportunism. The later “rehabilitated” Chan had no thought for the safety of young girls in his persuit of easy wealth. Drug filled condoms burst and people die. Users take overdoses and die. Life is cheap for drug trafficers, until it is theirs.

  2. BilB, they deserved life for what they did, but the state should not kill people under any circumstances outside self defence and just wars.

    The question of whether the two had been rehabilitated attracts sympathy, but I think should be strictly irrelevant.

  3. ……. but the state should not kill people under any circumstances outside self defence and just wars.

    And yet 100 000 innocent Australians will be killed in Australia, sanctioned and payed for ( Medicare ) by the Australian government this year!
    And next year….
    Where are all the #s and sorrow for them ?

    On the topic of State murder we are as bad as anyone.

  4. Jumpy, my policy is not to discuss that issue unless I’m face to face. For me, not on a blog thread.

  5. I’d prefer to legalise drugs and treat drug abuse as a health, education and social problem. Drugs take a terrible toll but so to does the war on drugs.

    Jumpy, half of all pregnancies end naturally in a spontaneous abortion and are thus acts of God. Maybe you should cast the first stone at your God, if you have one ;).

    As to the death penalty, I instinctively oppose it but one good reason for doing so is that if we in the liberal West want to civilise “the barbarians” (and it is a case of enlightened to do so), we should draw a strong bright line between civilised and uncivilised behaviour and never cross it.

  6. Brian

    Jumpy, my policy is not to discuss that issue unless I’m face to face. For me, not on a blog thread.

    Yeah, ok, a bit “uncomfortable ” is it ?
    Best we hush it up.
    Silence loud and clear.
    Yet it continues…….

  7. No, Jumpy, not uncomfortable, but in my experience it often ends up in an unedifying stoush, wherein no-one learns anything or changes their views.

    Karen in your last paragraph, substitute “uncivilised” for “barbarians” and “ethical” for “civilised” and I’m with you.

  8. And what better forum than one that claims-

    It seeks to make important information accessible and to provide a venue for sharing and engaging in an environment that is both congenial and civil. Vigorous contestation of ideas is welcome within those parameters.

    Your call obviously but we may surprise you.

  9. Jumpy, I wasn’t speaking as a moderator, just for me personally. I won’t be participating in the discussion, if there is one.

    Sorry if I gave the wrong impression.

  10. Jumpy, we’ve had that conversation.
    Over. And over. And over.
    The people who believe “100,000 innocent Australians will be killed” courtesy of Medicare have been overruled.
    Live with it.

  11. The issue of rehabilitation is crucial. It is beyond belief to understand how their brutal execution for running drugs to Australia, and the murder of the mentally ill Brazilian, Rodrigo Gularte, will act as a deterrent to Indonesians.

    Nonetheless the eight showed extraordinary fortitude and common purpose , not to include courage, in looking directly at their executioners. This important part of the story has been overlooked.

  12. wmmbb, you are right. I think also the way this whole affair played out in the media internationally will help change attitudes to the death penalty in Indonesia in the long run, but it’s going to take a while and many more deaths.

  13. The way this issue was handled by our media and others ignored the nature of Javan culture. If anything, it made it harder for the new Indonesian president to back down.

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