The big names in politics call for mercy 328



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Over the last few months, there has been intense media coverage of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the Bali Nine pair on death row in Indonesia. The Indonesian president has said, in no uncertain terms, that he will have no mercy for those who have trafficked drugs or been involved in the trafficking of drugs to or from Indonesia, yet still, we are pleading for mercy even when all hope seems lost. What is this saying about us as a nation?

President Widodo’s hardline stance has been counteracted by support from all over the world from those who believed the two men should be spared from execution. Vigils and even a concert have been held to show opposition to the death sentence.

In the last few days, Tony Abbott has stepped up his involvement in the case, going on the record several times to share his thoughts about the situation, yesterday saying he felt sick in his stomach when he thought of the men awaiting their deaths. What’s most interesting, though, are the pleas for mercy by some of our former prime ministers, including John Howard. At the eleventh hour, it feels almost too late for supporters of the men to come forward now, however it seems like many have been opening their hearts and feeling compassion for Myuran and Andrew in their time of need.

Six former prime ministers expressed their views in a rare show of political unity, with John Howard saying, “They committed a very serious crime but have demonstrated genuine rehabilitation. Mercy being shown in such circumstances would not weaken the deterrent effect of Indonesia’s strong anti-drug laws”. Mr Howard was the prime minister at the time of the men’s arrests.

Julia Gillard also showed her support and said, “I personally would find it heartbreaking if such extraordinary efforts to become of good character were not met with an act of mercy, of recognition of change”. Kevin Rudd echoed these sentiments, saying “As a deep, long-standing friend of Indonesia over the decades, I would add my voice to my prime ministerial peers, and respectfully request an act of clemency”. Mr Rudd was the foreign minister for several years and sought clemency (unsuccessfully) for Van Tuong Nguyen, who was executed in Singapore in 2005.

Bob Hawke was known for his commanding presence and it was moving to see he and other prime ministers rally together. He backed Andrew and Myuran and said, “These two men made a mistake when they were young and foolish. They have served their incarceration with model behaviour, and I therefore urge and plead that the government reconsider its decision to now take their lives”. Meanwhile, Paul Keating described the death penalty as “a monstrous act which provides no atonement for a crime … and for that reason, the Indonesian government should heed the appeals for clemency in respect of the two Australians in its charge”, according to The Australian.

Malcolm Fraser took a slightly different stance and was more realistic about the Australia government’s ability to change the minds of Indonesia: “We face an extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, task if we seek to impose our value system on other countries. Suggestions that our ambassador should be withdrawn if, according to Indonesian law, the executions tragically take place, are extremely foolish”.

Today there has been a slight glimmer of hope, with the postponement of Sukumaran and Chan’s transfer to the Nusakambangan prison, but it still seems that even some of the most influential leaders in Australia’s history cannot influence the situation.

Here are some tweets from those in support of the men. Some are calling for a boycott of Bali:


Image source: Mashable

Do you think these new statements will really get through to the Indonesian government? Or is it only being done after there were calls by the public to do more for the duo? Is persistence in this way going to work in our favour?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Of course. A lifetime in an Indonesian gaol would be more than enough.I stand for mercy, we are not barbarians.All drug users in this country share some responsibility for this too..if there wasn’t a market we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    1 REPLY
    • oh really! so it’s the young immature 11 year old who finds themselves hopelessly addicted after accepting a couple of little pink lollies is it?

  2. Do you think this is going to persuade the PM over in Indonesia,noway he won’t want to week now he is in GOVERNMENT .

  3. I am glad they got some backbone and stood up for these 2 young Australian men that will be put to death, if something is not done fast. I fear it may be too late.. this should have been done as soon as their execution was announced..I feel so sorry for those young men and their families

    11 REPLY
    • I’m relieved for those who missed out on getting the drugs you were carrying

      1 REPLY
      • Those who missed out on their fix this time will have to re-arrange to get their fix another time. It is almost certain that they will sooner or later get their drugs from an alternative source. Killing the odd drug mule here and there wont stop people from seeking out and buying drugs.

    • I agree with Sonja there would be no drug trade if people said no to drugs in the first place. There is plenty of education out there to show that drugs destroy and kill you. Just as a drug addict can be rehabilitated so can thes young men, they should be given a chance to live too

    • These 2 did not give a stuff for the people the drugs would hurt. They knew the laws but didn’t care. All they thought about was the money. I wish they would hurry up and shoot these 2 drug runners who where the leaders of the 9.

    • The Bali 9 would have been caught on arrival to our shores, for the AFP were contacted by one of the mules’ dad. The drugs confiscated, used as evidence, & never made the streets! The young lads would have been rehabilitated, they are not hard core criminals. My biggest concern is obviously the “big haul” was easily obtained on Indonesian soil, so why were the suppliers not caught & prosecuted? Or, is it only the “foreigners” being used as the sacrificial lambs to quell the outrage of its own citizens whose “drug addicted” families & friends fell victims to this scourge??

    • I agree with you Libbi Elliot. I wish they would also work together for the good of our country as well!!

  4. Good to see all past PM’S there doing something good and right to earn those high Pensions they are getting, I hope they achieve success. The State Sanctioned murder of these men is sickening

  5. If one of your friends or children was coming home in a box because of a Heroin overdose that may change your mind regards

    1 REPLY
    • I’m sure there are many who have personally suffered from seeing their loved ones die from drug overdoses or drug related incidences. But the reality of the situation is that executing drug traffickers does very little to prevent our loved one’s from taking drugs and harming themselves and their families.

      The real war against drugs is a war against a generation of people who are completely and utterly under the spell of an ennui that gets them suckered in by a party culture that requires them to get “trashed” or “wasted”, and makes them want to identify with or join the “gang/underworld” community. It’s just pathetically ignorant that drug mules like Chan and Myu (and Van Nguyen in 2005) are used as scapegoats for society’s glorification of drugs/crime combined with its failure to educate its children and teach them the right kinds of values so as to give them purpose and goals in life.

  6. I stand for mercy, execution is barbaric, I am also antidrugs. More money and effort should be going towards catching the big guys. Am I cynical in believing that the big guys have the money to pay the appropriate people. Isn’t it always about money.

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