My heart is just aching today for humanity. It’s all over the radio, the news, social media via #boycottbali I’m talking about the pending execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran – convicted drug traffickers (part of the Bali 9) currently awaiting execution in Bali’s Kerobokan prison. Their transfer to the island prison of Nusa Kambangan has been delayed. While this is a relief for many right-thinking people, a frightening number of their Australian countrymen are calling for the executions to go ahead. The main argument for why is “Because they knew the laws of that country when they went there and what the consequences would be if they got caught”. Another argument for proceeding is “Drugs kill people. Their drugs could’ve killed people”. I got to thinking about these two arguments today and I invite you to likewise think a little more deeply about them and whether those reasons are good enough to murder people.
1. They knew the law and its consequences
This is true – and no one is saying they are not guilty or not ‘criminals’. But my question is how can we use this argument (“it’s the law in Indonesia”) in this case, but when a woman in the Middle East is buried to her neck and stoned to death for being raped there is a hue and cry from the global community about the human rights abuse? Why? It’s the law in their country after all. We can’t have it both ways.
2. Their drugs could have killed people
Yes drugs kill people – in this case, theirs didn’t. It didn’t get that far. The Indonesian system worked to catch them and imprison them and prevent the drugs leaving the country. But does that mean that Andrew and Myuran should die? Are we now for killing people based on the POTENTIAL for their crime to do harm … even though it actually didn’t result in any harm? In fact, more people die from alcohol-related illness and smoking-related illness than drugs – the only difference being these are ‘legal’ drugs. It would be truly frightening if we were to move our society into a Minority Report type system.
I learned today that 9 fellow inmates have offered to front the firing squad in place of Andrew Chan, such is the effect he has had on people within the prison. Both he and Myuran have rehabilitated. They have both been active the last 10 years working on themselves and helping others. This means the Indonesian system has worked. They are not asking for release … they are asking for clemency, for the death penalty to be commuted to life. They could – and I believe would continue to – do so much good for fellow inmates – as they have done for the past 10 years. Perhaps this was the universe’s way of helping them find their path.
The death penalty is a brutal penalty – imagine for a moment being dragged from your prison cell bed in the dead of night, flown to a remote location and then not knowing when – but soon – you would face the firing squad. Then being led out to stand before 12 men pointing rifles at you. It is impossible for me to imagine and I cannot believe the heartlessness of people who say simply “just shoot ’em”. ACT Bar Association president Shane Gill said:
“The death penalty… brutalises both the society that imposes it and the system that imposes it. Mercy to the contrary represents strength in both the system and a society.”
And despite the Indonesian Government’s claims it is used to deter crime, it is well known the death penalty is completely ineffective as a deterrent. Being shot like a rabid dog is inhumane. A blanket death penalty based on the crime itself (drug trafficking in this case) rather than taking into consideration all circumstances and subsequent events is insightless and does no one justice.
I weep for those people who pass judgment based purely on those two arguments – the same people who no doubt are proud of the fact Ned Kelly is an Australian icon and “folk hero”. And he DID murder people.
Andrew and Myuran may well be “baddies” but they are also human beings. Unfortunately they are two human beings caught in the crosshairs of a nation making a point. And that’s not right.
© Earth Goddess Wisdom – www.earthgoddesswisdom.com
There are two Petitions currently running to stop the executions – please consider signing: