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Chris Ford: Chan and Sukamaran - Indonesians taking hypocritical stance

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Chris Ford
Chris Ford

Today came the news that Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are coming one step closer to meeting their fate at the hands of a firing squad. According to media reports, Australian Embassy officials in Jakarta have been summoned to a meeting at the Indonesian Foreign Ministry on Monday when they are expected to be told of the date of the two men's executions. And the Indonesians are being hypocritical on this issue.


For once, Australia's woefully right-wing Prime Minister Tony Abbott made an excellent point at a fundraising gathering in Sydney today about the fact that Indonesia constantly makes representations regarding its own citizens who are facing death sentences overseas but yet refuse to even consider commuting the death sentences of foreigners in their own country.

This hypocrisy is just breathtaking.

The Australian Government has been making active representations on behalf of the two men for years and this has increased in recent weeks as the execution date nears. So far, the Indonesian Government have been resisting these calls for clemency for two men who have largely rehabilitated themselves and become, in the process, a role model for other prisoners.

Besides, their executions (and those of others both recently and in weeks to come) will not do a thing to halt the drug trade in Bali or, indeed, Indonesia as a whole. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has cited the high number of drug user deaths in his country as providing the justification for the latest wave of executions his government is determined to carry out. While each one of these drug deaths is a tragedy in themselves, there have been reports that Bali has been a traffickers paradise for years and this won't stop simply with the executions of these two men or any others. As international evidence shows, the death penalty does not deter serious crime, let alone drug trafficking.

Moreover, the head of the drug cartel who virtually used them as trafficking mules will most likely remain alive and virtually untouched. It's a safe bet that the head of the cartel who oversaw their smuggling attempt (and is doing so with thousands of others every year) resides probably in another Asian country and is most likely protected by a coterie of corrupt police and officials. The heads of these drug empires will no doubt continue to select smuggling mules with no real afterthought as to what happens to them if they are caught.

And that is the real tragedy behind these executions - that many mules, like Chan and Sukumaran were, are simply desperate to make big money and they will take grave risks if under financial pressure to do so. Or, in the alleged case of New Zealander Anthony de Melmache, be duped into doing so.

Despite the entreaties of all those who oppose the death penalty for whatever purpose (including me), it seems beyond doubt that Chan and Sukumaran could be dead by this time next week.

It all need not happen but it is about to. I say shame on the Indonesians whom request clemency for their own citizens abroad but care nothing about the fate of foreign convicts on their own soil.

One day their hypocrisy will come to haunt them.

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