Jakarta, 13 Rabi’ul Akhir 1436/3 February 2015 (MINA) – President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s latest rejection of clemency for a group of drug-case convicts, including two Australians, which will lead to the prisoners being executed by firing squad, has sparked mixed reactions in Australia, says Indonesian Ambassador to Australia Nadjib Riphat Kesoema.
“It is natural for every government to defend its citizens who are about to be executed. The Australian government expects to be able to spare its citizens’ lives,” Nadjib told The Jakarta Post recently.
“We also fully realize that taking someone’s life is never an easy business. However, the word is final and the law must be upheld,” the Jakartapost quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
The statement was made following Attorney General HM Prasetyo’s latest statement that prosecutors would execute foreigner prisoners and an Indonesian.
Nadjib also said that he had discussed the matter with various parties in Australia by explaining that the situation in Indonesia had forced the government to be firm, citing approximately 4.5 million people being exposed to narcotics, its various by-products and also other drugs.
He added that of the figure, a million people could not access proper rehabilitation.
“We are expecting some protests and mass rallies ahead as the result of the executions,” he said.
However, Nadjib went on to say that apparently the execution plan had also drawn mixed reactions, as a portion of the Australian public also agreed to the executions.
A survey conducted by Roy Morgan Research revealed 52 percent of Australians agreed that Australians convicted of drug trafficking in another country and sentenced to death should be executed.
The same survey also showed that 62 percent of Australians thought their government should not do more to stop the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. The survey was conducted via SMS to 2,123 people from Jan. 23-27. The pair has been detained at Kerobokan Penitentiary in Denpasar, Bali, for almost 10 years.
A call for mercy was aired at a concert on Thursday last week, where more than 2,000 Australians, led by local musicians, gathered in Sydney in a plea for mercy for the two convicts.
Holding candles and signs reading “I stand for mercy”, the crowd listened to speeches and live music at Martin Place in the heart of the city, in a show of support for Chan and Sukumaran, who recently lost their final appeals for clemency.
The two men — members of an Australian drug-smuggling group dubbed the “Bali Nine” — were arrested in Bali in 2005 and sentenced to death the following year for attempting to smuggle eight kilograms of heroin off the Indonesian holiday island.
Sukumaran’s grandmother Edith Visvanathan told the crowd that she was not asking for him to be sent home.
“I only ask him [Jokowi] to give him his life and let him do something with it,” she said between sobs, as quoted by Agence France-Presse.
“Don’t kill him, please don’t kill him […] please, President, please forgive him.”
Artist Ben Quilty, a friend of Sukumaran’s who organized the concert, choked back tears as he said the men’s families would be touched by the outpouring of support.
“Andrew and Myuran did really bad things, but they are good young men now,” he added.
Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson, who was in the audience, said there was “no cause for governments to kill people”.
“The death penalty is completely inconsistent with human rights principles and disproportionate to the crimes being committed,” he told AFP.(T/P009/P3)