Two Australian citizens, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran will be transferred to their place of execution on Nusakambangan Island at noon today. Execution will be imminent, once on the island, they’ll be given just 72 hours notice before facing a firing squad of twelve gunmen. They’ll be given the choice to stand, sit, or kneel; and whether to be blindfolded.
Disbelief has been expressed by the Australian government who’ve relentlessly appealed against the Indonesian government’s decision. Indonesian President, President Joko Widodo stated that executing drug offenders is important for national sovereignty.
Yet, just in the last year, the Indonesian government spent millions, and paid blood money, to free 44 Indonesians on death row. There are currently 230 Indonesians on death row following drug charges in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, China, Singapore, and Malaysia. The Indonesian president making strong pleas for them to be returned to Indonesia.
Human Rights Watch director Elaine Pearson noted, “Indonesia is showing a despicable double standard when it comes to executions … It shows breathtaking hypocrisy.”
The issue is sure to disrupt relations between the two nations. Australians were some of the first respondents in aid efforts following the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, giving over $1 billion.
An Indonesian human rights representative, Ms Anis Hidayah echoes the sentiments abroad, “How can we expect other countries to respect the lives of Indonesians when our own government fails to do the same?”
The Australians have spent a decade in prison. In that time they proactively engaged in programs to help the community and fellow prisoners. So great have their contributions been that the Governor of Keroboken Prison, in a highly rare move, spoke at their appeal trials and called for clemency.
Etched on the back of one of Sukumaran’s paintings, which is part of a prison art rehabilitation program he helped initiate, are the words “People can change.”
It seems those words will be lost with the premise that prisons are to be a place of reformation and transformation. If Indonesia’s goal is to a present a regressive, barbaric, and hypocritical portrait of itself to the world, it will surely succeed when those twelve gunmen unload their bullets into Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.