Time is quickly running out for convicted Australian drug smugglers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, who face execution in Indonesia. They are part of the Bali Nine, who were arrested in 2005 in Denpasar. Pleas for presidential clemency and judicial reviews have been rejected.
The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he has done everything he can but will not engage in “megaphone diplomacy”, according to the Jakarta Post. Many are not convinced:
Not objecting to the execution of your own citizens is, itself, a form of megaphone diplomacy.
— Sir Newt (@NewtonMark) February 5, 2015
An opinion poll taken in Australia is also the centre of controversy. It asked, “In your opinion if an Australian is convicted of drug trafficking in another country & sentenced to death, should the penalty be carried out?” with 52% answering yes in the phone poll. The sample size and method have been criticised.
In addition, ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) radio station Triple J has copped criticism over the poll:
Bit of a stretch @DailyMailAU that a @triplej poll could lead to the execution of Sukumaran and Chan. http://t.co/VYPloxErXB #Bali9 #media
— Steve Williams (@randomswill) February 4, 2015
The Indonesian government has been using the poll to justify their decision:
Indonesia using Triple J poll to justify Bali Nine executions – 9#Au http://t.co/weGQliIPAM #Aust
— Tweeting Roo ™ (@TweetingRoo) February 4, 2015
Public opinion is certainly divided within Australia. Artist Ben Quilty has been organizing against the death penalty for the pair. He is calling for the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to go to Indonesia:
http://t.co/HqVjshO9ZS @JulieBishopMP please go to Bali.
— Ben Quilty (@BenQuilty) February 4, 2015
Radio presenter Garry Linnell opposed a candlelight vigil on 29 January and had supporters:
“Bali 9: Why I won't be lighting a candle for Sukumaran and Chan” – gutsy piece from Garry Linnell: http://t.co/XTnqe8tlXU via @smh
— Leo D'Angelo Fisher (@DAngeloFisher) January 29, 2015
Academic Patrick Stokes has discussed arguments for and against the death penalty in the Bali Nine case, and how not to argue for the death penalty, concluding:
Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika has said that the executions should take place – just not in Bali. It seems it’s OK for things like this to happen, so long as they don’t happen here, where we have to confront the full reality of what is done when the state ends a life, of what it is to shoot a man tied to a stake.
Sadly, many Australians seem to agree.
While PM Abbott was drumming up support for new data retention laws, the role of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in tipping off the Indonesian authorities was questioned:
With Abbott standing next to AFP for PR terror stunt why not ask for investigation role of AFP into Bali9 given over to Indon, death penalty
— suemazzy (@suemazzy1) February 4, 2015
The Twitter hashtag #IStandForMercy is another online focus of support:
With my daughter lighting candles for mercy. #IStandForMercy #keephopealive @MercyCampaign pic.twitter.com/nyeQNNGUDR
— Verity Firth (@VerityFirth) January 29, 2015
Nobody deserves the death penalty, no matter what crime has been committed.#IStandForMercy. @jokowi_do2 http://t.co/lwyx6buEgW
— Janet Rice (@janet_rice) January 29, 2015
Some on Twitter have wondered about a possible racial element amongst those who criticise the campaign to save the two Australians:
Wonder how these Bali 9 dudes on Death Row would be viewed if they were white?
— BRIGGS (@BriggsGE) February 5, 2015
Meanwhile the vigils continue:
Join us at a vigil tonight to abolish the #DeathPenalty and #KeepHopeAlive http://t.co/7ewm29Bo3V http://t.co/fW8TbIddwZ #IStandForMercy
— NSW Women's Network (@AmnestyWomen) February 5, 2015
A rally is planned for Sydney’s Martin Place, scene of the recent siege and deaths.
I suggest that activists trying to save the two Australians should address the concerns of President Jokowi by starting a fund to help Indonesian NGOs which are trying to alleviate the drug problems of Indonesia and the sufferings of their addicts. This fund is to be paid out unconditionally whether or not the convicted persons are eventually executed.
This will enhance the effect of signature campaigns as mere words are otherwise cheap and not meaningful. Back your signature with a cash donation of say USD10/- to the said fund. We will all be impressed by numbers including President Jokowi who is a businessman. .
Not just preach forgiveness but back it up with something meaningful. Of course count me in as a donor as soon as the fund is started. Regret that I am not technically competent to start such a fund myself.
I’m sure that there are NGOs in Indonesia who might take up this idea. Perhaps Oxfam (oxfam.com ) may know an NGO that could help with the practicalities of your idea.