Paris Die-in, July 2, 2008

The impending death of convicted Australian drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myurun Sukurman is causing a significant amount of social and political distress in Australia and Indonesia. The situation is a bit of a mess. And given President Joko Widodo’s public stance on the use of the death penalty, Indonesia will be entering similar debates with other countries (including China, France and the Philippines) that have citizens who are scheduled to become victims of Indonesia’s unproportional system of punishment.

New president

Chan and Sukumaran are high on Indonesia’s hit list. So too is 42-year-old convicted cocaine smuggler Rodrigo Gularte from Brazil. Alongside a fundamental right to life and a right not to experience inhuman punishment, there are very good reasons for showing these people mercy: the death penalty has always been out of proportion to the crimes they committed and all have already been sufficiently punished (Chan and Sukumaran have been in prison since 2005); Chan and Sukumaran are rehabilitated (something the Indonesia government should be proud of); and Gularte is mentally ill with schizophrenia.

the plight of Three Death row prisoners in indonesia are attracting international attention
Andrew Chan, born in 1984 and raised in Sydney, was arrested in Bali with eight others attempting to traffic heroin to Australia. Since being imprisoned, Andrew has begun studies to become a pastor and runs the prison’s English Language Church Service.
(Source: Mercy Campaign)
Myuran Sukumaran, born in London to a Sri Lankan family and raised in Sydney’s western suburbs, was arrested with eight others attempting to smuggle heroin into Australia. In prison, Sukumaran is an artist and teaches computer and graphic design courses to other inmates.
(Source: Mercy campaign)
Rodrigo Gularte, grew up in Southern Brazil. He was arrested attempting to smuggle six kilograms of cocaine into Jakarta in 2004. He has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder with psychotic features.

Yet the Indonesian government won’t budge. It’s now a political issue and President Widodo isn’t changing his mind.
He won’t grant clemency.
Communities around
the world will soon be mourning the
death of these men and many others
in the future.

The only positive here is that these
cases are generating a large amount of
news and debate in some parts of the
world, putting the death penalty back on
the public agenda.

One can only hope that this public debate and increased awareness about the ineffectiveness of the death penalty as a deterrent will change the minds of at least
a few who still support it. Especially President Widodo.

Header photo credit: Die-in against the death penalty in the US (Paris, July 2, 2008) by World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

New President by Ahmad Syauki [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons (bottom)


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