Wednesday, March 4, 2015


Let's be clear about this. Indonesia is committed to murdering Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan. There are many things wrong with this.

Indonesia and in particular President Joko Widodo assert that this is their sovereign right. That may well be, it doesn't make it right.

State sanctioned murder of this type is wrong. It belittles every one of us. It reduces our humanity and stamps us as people who cannot find better, more effective ways of dealing with our problems. Yes, drugs are a problem; yes, people who traffic in drugs are a problem. No, murder is not a solution to these problems.

Wherever state sanctioned murder is practised the final arbiter of whether a prisoner is murdered is a politician. The last man hanged in Victoria, Ronald Ryan, had his clemency appeal rejected by Henry Bolte, then Premier of Victoria. This decision was no doubt influenced by political considerations and future election prospects.

Nobody watching this horrible situation unfold in Indonesia could be in any doubt that the continuing, intransigent, determination by President Widodo to murder Sukumaran and Chan, is at least in part, complicated by election promises made by the President. Nobody could be in any doubt that President Widodo has backed himself into a corner from which he can find no way out but the murder of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan.

Thus we move from the "sovereign right" of Indonesia, to the political exigencies of its President as the real driver for these murders. Whilst the President would like to see these murders as a show of strength on his part, they are in fact a sign of weakness. He is unable to see an effective strategy to deal with drugs in his country; he is unable to show mercy in the face of requests from friends of his country. Instead he is simply hell bent on murdering two stupid young men who have long ago redeemed themselves in the eyes of the world.

It is unbecoming of a country of Indonesia's richness and stature that its President is unable to see a better and more humane way of treating two stupid young men. Two young men who are so thoroughly reformed and such an asset to the world alive.

Mr President you have the power to avoid this wrong. Show real moral strength as a person and offer clemency to these young men.