In the recent months, if you followed Australian media at all, you’ll have heard of the decision made by the Indonesian government to sentence two Australian citizens to death – Andrew Chan, and Myuran Sukumaran.
None of this comes as a surprise of course, after the Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, decided to take a hard stance on the crime of drug trafficking by foreign citizens on their home soil. The Bali Nine offenders were convicted of attempting to traffic 8.3kg of the illicit drug heroin from Indonesia to Australia. Indonesian authorities were tipped off by Australian Federal Police before they made it out of the country, hence the reason why they were tried and convicted there.
Joko Widodo made a speech at the end of December 2014 stating “There will be no second chances”, after he denied clemency to Chan and Sukumaran in spite of the latter’s rehabilitation. Widodo was elected under the pretense of being a human rights champion, yet governs the opposite instead defending his position by stating that “Fifty people [in Indonesia] are killed every day because of drugs…those fifty [dead] people cannot be rehabilitated”.
While a fair ground to take, and one that’s held vocal here in Australia, it’s incredibly interesting to take note of the efforts the previous Indonesian government has gone to to ensure the same clemency was granted to its citizens on death row in other foreign countries. For example just the previous year, the Indonesian migrant worker, Satinah, was facing the potential for execution in Saudi Arabia after stealing and murdering her employer in 2007. It was by the desperation of the people of Indonesia, that the then-government petition for her release. She was ultimately released after the Indonesian government paid USD$1.9M, and did not follow the same fate of Ruyati Binti Satubi, who was beheaded by Saudi Arabia in June 2011 as the Indonesian government requested her clemency.
Although both crimes aren’t close to being comparable, this is but one case of an Indonesian citizen held in death row in a foreign country. In fact the Indonesian NGO, Migrant Care, estimate that 360 Indonesian citizens face the death penalty around the world.
And yet two Australians are given no sympathy by the Indonesian Government, and are instead to be subject to the barbaric practice of the death penalty.
Off on that tangent for a second, Indonesia is one of the 2% of countries utilizing the death penalty for crimes committed within their borders. It’s very obviously a disgusting and barbaric practice which is a ‘direct denial of human rights’,according to Amnesty International.
It’s written by Clancy Overell that it’s clearly a more horrendous crime to smuggle 8.3kg worth of heroin out of Indonesia, than it is to detonate 1,020kg of TNT in a nightclub. And they go on to distinguish that while one of the men assisting the Bali Bombers, once previously imprisoned for 18 years as a 36 year old, has been released on good behavior and settling in quite nicely. Whereas the two convicted Australians, who have shown hope for rehabilitation through ‘teaching english and giving art classes’ to other inmates over the 10 years of imprisonment (knowing full well of the chances of survival), have instead been transported to the prison that will host their execution within the coming days.
That’s not the only case of hypocrisy in this case study however. No, the cherry on top really falls to Australian media itself, namely The Daily Telegraph:
Of course, this isn’t the first case of The Daily Telegraph’s rampant bias, but it’s the vocal mouthpiece that no sympathy be given to drug smugglers. At all. None. Ever.
Or was, anyway, because it seems the nationwide opinion of the Bali Nine has crept up as we grew closer and closer to their execution. The notion of sympathy is still given some derisive snorts of laughter, but after about 10 years since their conviction and arrest, the Bali Nine’s fate is still held with a mountain of criticism. Even the PM Tony Abbott and Foreign MP Julie Bishop have declared their objection to the use of the death penalty on Australian citizens, going so far as to offer a prisoner swap as we move closer.
As you can probably guess, I don’t support the execution of drug traffickers in the slightest. I don’t support the trafficking of drugs either, but priorities. No one deserves to die for their crimes, whatever they did. It’s atrocious and pathetic to think that stupid decisions made in your youth should define you, and in this case sentence you to death.