March 9, 2015
Angela “Miss M” Morrissey
Writer, artist and broadcaster on 106.7 Phoenix FM in Australia.
[T]he following article focuses on the two ringleaders of “The Bali Nine,” a group of Australians who smuggled heroin into Bali, Indonesia.
|The Bali Nine. Some are serving lengthy sentences, while two others will be executed by a firing squad.|
The two men, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are now waiting on death row to be executed by firing squad for their crimes.
Their families are pleading for their lives saying that they have reformed and now help other inmates as well as nourish their interests in art and theology.
The other members of the Bali Nine are Si Yi Chen, Michael Czugaj, Renae Lawrence, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, Matthew Norman, Scott Rush and Martin Stephens.
All were aged between 18 and 28 at the time of their arrest and are all serving lengthy sentences. Some had life sentences reduced to twenty years, and some have also been moved to other prisons for various reasons including plotting to harm a prison guard.
It is worth noting that prior to the Bali Nine’s arrest, another Australian, Schapelle Corby was arrested for attempting to smuggle cannabis into Bali on the 8th of October 2004.
The incident made international headlines and was the subject for much debate in Australia. The Australian Government tried to intervene but was unsuccessful.
The case was so publicised that it is highly unlikely that the Bali Nine would have been unaware of it.
No Mercy: Two Young Australian sit Waiting on Death Row
[C]andlelight vigils have been held across Australia in support of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
Both Mr. Chan and Mr. Sukumaran are from New South Wales in Australia and are facing the death penalty on the Indonesian island of Bali for drug smuggling.
Both young men were part of the notorious Bali Nine group of Australians who were arrested on the 17th of April 2005 in Denpasar the capital of Bali.
|A densely populated street in the capital city of Denspar, on the island of Bali. This a the place you do not want to be in possession of that “Indonesia.”|
They planned to smuggle 8.3 kg (19 Ib) of heroin valued at about AU$ 4 million from Indonesia to Australia.
Both Mr. Chan and Mr. Sukumaran were sentenced to execution by firing squad on the 14th of February 2006 by the Denpasar District Court.
Their plea for clemency was rejected by the Indonesian President Joko Widodo on the 22nd of January 2015. Mr Widodo was elected as Indonesia’s new President in 2014.
Indonesian Language and Psychology Academic Rose Michell says that, “Any person who attempts to smuggle drugs into countries with zero tolerance, as are most Asian countries, must consider this is a life threatening choice.”
There was a case in the 1980s when two Australians, Kevin John Barlow and Brian Geoffrey Shergold Chambers, were hanged in Singapore for, drug smuggling.
“It shocked most Australians and certainly underlined the fact that foreign governments are powerless to help their citizens if they break strict and serious laws in another country,” Michell explained.
Both Mr. Chan and Mr. Sukumaran are being visited by their respected families as they serve their final hours in Kerobokan Jail in Bali. Soon, they will be taken to Nusakambangan Island off Java – the largest island in Indonesia – to be executed.
|Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran|
Margarita Windisch, an Academic from Victoria University and Socialist Alliance Candidate for Wills in Victoria, does not support the death penalty.
She believes that the reason many people such as the Bali Nine become drug smugglers is because they are naive, need to finance an expensive addiction or are desperately poor.
In addition, Ms. Windisch believes that drug mules like the Bali Nine “are the product and victims of a failed drug policy of prohibition.”
There has been talk of people boycotting Bali as a tourist destination. Over 100,000 Australians visit this small island paradise each month.
When asked if Westerners like Australians show enough respect when they visit this predominately Hindu island, Ms. Windisch says that many tourists “do not really care much about the Balinese people.”
“They know nothing of the incredible history of this stunning island nor show respectful interests in the cultural traditions and beliefs of its people,” Ms. Windisch stated.
Ms. Michell disagrees. She says that, in general, the majority of Westerners are “most respectful” of their “customs and show their respect often by learning the language or trying to understand the culture before they visit.”
She does admit however that there are young, adolescent males who drink too much who may tend to offend. Girls may drink and brawl as well but, in general, are “less noticeable.”
The Australian Government has also reminded Indonesia of the generosity that the country showed after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami that claimed the lives of many Indonesians.
Ms. Michell believes that one cannot ask for something that was supposedly given as a gift in the spirit of helping to overcome a horrendous situation.
She says, “They cannot be asked to change their laws. These young men knew what they were doing when they smuggled the drugs.”
A date has not been confirmed due to security reasons, although the Indonesian government has said it will give family members 72-hours notice, before the executions.