I suspect that I’m not the only one this evening tapping away at a keyboard, trying to distill confused thoughts into some semblance of a coherent post. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past month or so (or live far away from our fine country) you may not realise that I am referring to the impending executions of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, two young Australians who were convicted ten years ago of being the ringleaders of a drug smuggling ring known as the Bali 9.
And when I say impending, I mean it in a very literal sense because within several hours these men will each be fired upon by twelve men and executed.
I’ve spoken about my conflicting views about this case before and how I’ve struggled to reconcile my feelings about the punishment these men had been given and pressure being put on the Indonesian Government to bend the rules of their own laws. I still struggle with the notion that we feel we are so superior as a country that we have the power and ability to dictate to another country how they manage their justice system, however if I was in their position, I’d want my Government and fellow countrymen to rally behind me too. It’s a real paradox that I’m not sure I will resolve, but I’m not sure it even matters anymore.
Whilst these feelings are still lingering in this space I have been consumed with thoughts about these two men all day. I’ve been scanning the news feeds for updates and checking the watch for the time frequently. I want to feel more hard-arsed about my views and acquire the ability to simply dismiss the brouhaha with the rationale that they sealed their fates when they chose to break a law that lead to the consequence of death.
But I don’t agree with it. There is no question that they made stupid choices which lead to their arrest and subsequent incarceration. And they were guilty as charged. But having already spent ten years in prison, and by all accounts became model inmates who were able to use the mistakes of the past to redefine themselves and create meaning for their lives in By all accounts they were genuine in their quest for redemption. When the media generally refers to criminals or jailed drug smugglers, it’s rarely with the respect and admiration that I’ve seen and heard these two men described as over the past few months.
Does that mean I agree with the recent social media push suggesting we observe a minute silence upon their execution? No, I don’t think I do agree. That level of respect is not deserved in my very humble opinion, however I do believe that the choices they have made since their incarceration should have been considered. After all, they could have become inmates like many of the remaining Bali 9 inmates who are simply existing within the system and waiting out their time. The fact that they chose to help their peers and create a fulfilling and honest life within the walls of their prison in an attempt to redeem themselves for the mistakes they made I think deserves some brownie points. Do I think they deserve a pardon? No, I don’t. The reality is, the drugs that they imported would have had long lasting consequences for people, for families and for communities had they made it to the streets.
But do I think they deserve to be executed? No, I don’t. For all the reasons above I don’t. And for their families I don’t. Those poor families who have been marking time for the past 10 years, and in particular these last protracted months as dates are set and legal assaults are mounted to delay the inevitable. If the death penalty was the final conclusion, it should have been dealt with years ago. What’s happening at the moment and the way that these families are being treated is nearly inhumane.
The power that comes with the ability to sanction an execution must be overwhelming. I simply don’t believe that we as humans have right to determine whether someone lives or dies. 20 years ago when I was young and ignorant and lacking in maturity, I used to believe in the death penalty, but time, age, wisdom and perspective allowed me to broaden my narrow minded view. I wonder what President Joko Widodo is doing right now? Is he feeling the whole gamut of emotions tonight or is he taking the hard-arsed approach and keeping his feelings in check?
I don’t know much about Indonesian politics but I sense that a game is being played here and regardless of Widodo’s personal feelings, the political decision has been made and can’t be altered. After all, it’s the only thing that I can think of that make sense of this crazy situation. I hope that he’s able to sleep tonight, because I get the feeling that many Australians and others from all over the world tonight will be tossing and turning as they grapple with how they feel about this situation.
Do I think Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan deserve mercy. Yes, I do. #IStandForMercy
Are you following this story tonight? What do you think?