Plenty of blame to go around with Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan

I’m sorry for the families of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan as they deal with the protracted agony of the judicial killing of their sons in Indonesia. It must be bitter to them to see their sons hang for heroin while jurisdictions across the world loosen laws on marijuana.

But that is the law of Indonesia and has not changed in recent times. It was something Sukumaran and Chan knew when they committed the crime. The other seven in the Bali Nine identified themselves as mules and Sukumaran and Chan as the ringleaders. As ringleaders they knew would likely lose their lives if they were caught. Despite the tragedy of their reform, the position they now find themselves is almost entirely their own fault.

Neither Australia nor Indonesia are coming out of their likely deaths with any degree of glory. Lee Rush, the father of one of the mules, knew the consequences of what his son Scott was about to do and warned the Australian Federal Police 10 weeks before the Nine left the country. The Bali Nine drugs were for the Australian market, so the men had no contraband on them as they left the country. An AFP suit told the media Indonesia’s death sentence was not a consideration.”You’ve got to realise this is what the AFP does,” the suit said. I wonder what Lee Rush thinks about AFP’s processes.

If this is what the AFP does, why hasn’t the Australian Government offered to change it as a way of dealing with a justice system it does not like? The lack of action undermines Julie Bishop’s call for people to boycott Indonesia (not Bali – that was the media’s addition). Indonesia is well aware of Australia’s double standards and is right to ignore it in its calculations.

But Indonesia is not spotless either. The law has been in place for decades but the execution chambers were empty for six years before new President Jokowi decided being strong on the death penalty would be popular electorally. He did not have the gravitas of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to intervene and grant clemency in the absence of sound law.

There is a political problem for Jokowi, however. The same electorate that wants the foreigners hanged, wants its own people repatriated from death sentences on foreign shores. Last week the Jakarta Post said Indonesia vowed to secure the release of 229 Indonesian on death row across the world. This, only a few weeks after Indonesia hanged a Brazilian, a Malawian, a Vietnamese and a Dutch citizen as well as some of their own.

Australian communications minister Malcolm Turnbull called on Jokowi last night to show “strength” by not killing the Australians. But if he really wants to communicate he needs to acknowledge his government’s culpability before pointing out the hypocrisy of others.


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