For those who are not familiar with the story, it began almost 10 years ago, when nine young Australians went to Indonesia to collect some heroin to bring back to Australia. They were, apparently, to be paid quite significant amounts of money for their trouble. But trouble beyond imagining is what it turned out to be.
Despite the fact that the father of one of the youngest ‘mules’ had suspected they were up to no good and asked officials to intervene, the authorities watched as the nine travelled to Indonesia, collected the contraband and were then arrested by the Indonesian police.
The nine kids were charged, convicted and sentenced to death by firing squad.
This was ten years ago.
Meanwhile, one of the young people had her sentence changed to 20 years imprisonment and another six had theirs commuted to life in prison. That left two still with a death sentence.
During the ensuing nine + years these two young men began to change in every way. One of them (Andrew) developed an interest in Christianity, to the point where he studied enough to be ultimately ordained as a pastor.
While training and living in the prison, he helped other inmates, counselling them and teaching them. He became an invaluable support part of the prison system there.
The other young man (Myuran) started painting and it was soon apparent that he was a talented artist. An eminent artist came to tutor him and once established in his artistic field, Myuran began to teach and help others in artistic pursuits. It wasn’t only prisoners that he helped, but other students came from poor communities to learn from him and a flourishing art school began in the prison.
But then a change in government came to Indonesia, with a new president who decided he would be tough on drug criminals. And everything changed.
The two young men were made ready for the firing squad.
I won’t go into details about the changing and starting and stopping of plans for these executions, suffice to say it was akin to torture.
Despite the absolute rehabilitation of these two young men over ten years, despite the fact that they provided an important mentoring support and education for others incarcerated, there was to be no mercy. On Wednesday morning, they were taken out to a clearing in the forest, tied with cable ties to wooden crosses (not to symbolise the cross of Jesus, but to restrain them). They had marks drawn over the place their heart was and several marksmen (for each prisoner) fired when a signal was given. There were six other prisoners, also accused of drug trafficking shot at the same time. It was barbaric.
The political machinations that led to this tragedy are very involved.
As one commentator says: “Mercy was quite simply not an option for a president obsessed with the politics of toughness for his own domestic purposes.”
It was a corrupt judicial process.
Now I find that there are people who do not have sympathy for these two amateur drug runners; some people state the old ‘do the crime, do the time’ mantra and agree with the death penalty. USA has states that still sanction such barbarity and it is accepted by many of their people. I’m afraid that I cannot agree.
These two Australian men were making the most of their imprisonment by helping others and proving their rehabilitation. To me, that says a lot for rehabilitation and education programs being the biggest thing needed in prisons.
Pope Francis: “A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just."