Call on Indonesian President to 'use his power to grant mercy' to Australians and others

“The eyes of the world are on Indonesia, does it really want to be a country associated with ‘execution island’ rather than the exotic beaches it was once famed for?” - Fionna Smyth

  • London-born Sukurmaran’s paintings exhibited last week for his 34th birthday

Amnesty International today called on Indonesian President Joko Widodo to ‘use his power to grant mercy’ to the nine individuals, including two Australians, who might face execution by firing squad as soon as Monday.

Amnesty issued the urgent plea for clemency as it was confirmed that the Australian embassy, along with embassies representing seven other nationals facing imminent execution, will attend a meeting with Indonesian officials tomorrow morning. A 72-hour ‘notice period’ could be issued at the meeting, meaning that the individuals could be killed on Monday.

The two Australians Myuran Sukumaran  and Andrew Chan were convicted in Indonesia for drug trafficking as a member of the ‘Bali Nine’  and were sentenced to death by firing squad in 2006.

Whilst in prison, the two Australians have famously reformed the prison in which they were held. Both men have learnt fluent Indonesian and have initiated various classes so that they and their fellow prisoners can learn new skills. Sukumaran and Chan’s fellow inmates and the jail's chief warden have praised the transformational effect the two have had on the prison, including reducing drug use by helping inmates with addiction issues.

Last week, Amnesty hosted an exhibition of London-born Sukurmaran’s paintings at its headquarters in London. Myuran Sukumaran, known as “Myu” painted all the artworks during his 10 years on death row. The haunting oil paintings show the evolution of his artistic skill as well as the emotional torture he has experienced living under a sentence of death for a decade. His London-based cousin, Niranjela Karunatilake, has organised the exhibition, entitled From Death Row - A solo Exhibition by Myuran Sukumaran, to draw attention to his case, and to mark his 34th birthday last Friday.

In Indonesia, a condemned prisoner has the “choice” of standing or sitting and whether to have their eyes covered by a blindfold or by a hood. Firing squads are made up of 12 people, three of whose rifles are loaded with live ammunition, while the other nine rifles contain blanks. The squad fires from a distance of between five and ten metres.
 

Fionna Smyth, Amnesty UK's Head of Campaigns  said:

“The news that tomorrow morning, the Australian embassy -- along with embassies representing seven other nationals facing imminent execution -- will attend a meeting with Indonesian officials, is ominous.

“If a 72-hour notice period is issued at this meeting, Myuran, Andrew and the others could face the firing squad as early as Monday.

“But nothing has yet been decided, and we call on President Widodo to use his power to grant mercy.  Where there’s life there’s hope.

“The eyes of the world are on Indonesia, does it really want to be a country associated with ‘execution island’ rather than the exotic beaches it was once famed for?”

Myuran Sukumaran’s cousin Niranjela Karunatilake said:

“The death penalty is never the answer and I don’t believe it deters crime, but in Myu’s case, when he has done so much to repent and improve prison conditions, it would be a real tragedy if his life was cut short.

“We are not asking for Myu to be freed, all we ask is for mercy, that he keeps his life and continues his positive impact on the Indonesian prison system and other inmates.

“The last ten years have been so painful for him and his parents and brother and sister, but he is the most resilient person I know. He has proved himself to be incredibly kind and compassionate. He deserves that same compassion in return.”

Amnesty is calling for a halt to the executions at www.amnesty.org.uk/mercy

 

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