helluva week

I just can’t let this week’s post go live without saying something about the disgraceful execution of 2 Australian citizens by the Indonesian government. Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were the ringleaders for a group of 9 young people that travelled to Indonesia as drug mules to import contraband back to Australia – the incident occurred 10 years ago.

Whilst no one condones what these guys did, it must be iterated – they were 19 years old at the time, their immature frontal lobes no doubt contributed. During their 10 years in a Balinese prison, they were ostensibly rehabilitated, Chan becoming a minister, assisting other inmates in the maximum security prison withdraw from drug addictions and counselling other inmates on death row. The pair set up workshops of various types to assist their fellow inmates. Sukumaran became an artist, befriended and supported by Archibald prize winning artist and official war artist – Ben Quilty. Sukumaran completed a fine arts degree through Curtin University while in prison.

These young guys were used as political fodder in order for the Indonesian President Joko Widodo to win favour with his people. Indonesia is Australia’s closest non english speaking neighbour. A friend who serves in the Royal Australian Navy told me some time ago, they pose the biggest threat to Australia’s security. We have a very strained relationship with Indonesia, Paul Keating once publicly denounced an Indonesian president as a recalcitrant, it became a major incident.

The entire nation has watched as one gaff after another has been committed in the efforts to save these men. None other than our very own Prime Minister practically threw down the gauntlet to the Indonesian PM, the comment raised Widodo’s ire and the fellas in prison must have known their fate was sealed right there and then.

Before the Bali 9 left Australian soil, one of the boy’s fathers alerted the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to the potential crime being committed by his son. He was assured by the AFP the boys would be prevented from leaving Australia. Instead, the AFP alerted their Indonesian counterparts. They arrested the Bali 9 on Indonesian soil. It must be remembered these guys were bringing drugs back to Australia, not exporting drugs to Indonesia. My heart goes out to that Father; he was doing his best to prevent his son committing a terrible crime, would I have done it any differently?

The AFP and Indonesian police force have a history of close collaboration. Together they uncovered islamic extremist terrorist cells hiding in Indonesia – the people responsible for the Bali Bombings. Australia has always been an enormous support in the form of foreign aid to Indonesia and we were the first on Indonesian soil after the Boxing Day Tsunami. So what did the Indonesian authorities gain by arresting these young men rather than allow them to be arrested on their return to Australia, to be dealt with by Australian authorities? The AFP needs to come clean on this – Australians need to know why confidential information given in good faith was used for political point scoring in Indonesia. How did this happen?

The purpose of prison is often considered twofold.  It ideally serves to rehabilitate but also detains criminals in an effort to protect the public from them? If there was never any light at the end of the tunnel for these rehabilitated prisoners – the best a penal system can do, then why keep them on death row for 10 years. The boys should have taken the bribe offered them early in the piece, they would have been alive now, such is the integrity of the Indonesian penal system. So much has been said about this case, Australians were sickened when they woke to the news yesterday. No one summed up the situation better than Waleed Aly I think.


Capital punishment was abolished in Australia in 1967. I highly recommend this short essay by James Hogan who has campaigned against the death penalty worldwide for Amnesty International. He wrote in response to the announcement of the execution of the 2 Australians by Indonesian firing squad. The 2 Australians as well as the other 6 prisoners executed yesterday refused to be blindfolded and sang Amazing Grace prior to their execution.


Nepal Earthquake

Our thoughts are with all those affected by the Nepalese earthquake disaster. Princess was trekking there last December and had befriended many children in the villages she visited with her schoolmates. They have met to raise money for the cause. Its been said that Nepal will take at least 10 years to recover from this disaster. This page lists the registered charities who are members of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), they are collecting donations for Nepal.

I wish only good things for you all.


Add yours →

  1. This is such a balanced representation of the events that occurred in Indonesia recently… Our household has been stumbling around in a saddened mood state since the executions were announced and have not yet formed a rational, unemotional response. In any case, I know that cultural difference is a factor to be acknowledged, considered and respected in assessing any action – but this outcome calls into question the very notion of prison rehabilitation. Sukumaran’s natural gift as an artist was astonishing and unusual: the capacity for abstract, reflective thinking that his images reveal is quite breathtaking. The fact that both had demonstrated the ability and willingness to contribute meaningfully to the community of which they were part, as reparation for their criminal behaviour, must surely count ‘for something’. Punishment is expected, but we are all diminished by their violent death.

  2. Well, done! I enjoyed this post, providing me with more detail than I knew about the Australians executed. And yes, we’re all watching Nepal.

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