Following my earlier post about Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chain, it seems that their fate has been sealed and that they will say their final goodbye today. The debate on the merit of their execution is still raging here in Australia. Those siding with the Indonesian government refuse to show sympathy and use the rationale of “if you break it, you pay”. Some of my Indonesian friends also make comments about why Australians get so passionate about two criminals. Here in Australia, some also comment about the hypocrisy of us fighting for their mercy and yet saying nothing to the continuing state-sanctioned executions in China and other parts of the world, like the US.
As mentioned in my previous post, these two criminals are well on their way of rehabilitation and have stated that they are willing to repay their crime by staying behind bars, for as long as needed. Cynics say that the lowest scums will act like angels if they are threatened with execution. Well, the fact that Myuran and Andrew are willing to stay behind bars and that they are not fighting to be freed from their criminal sentence negates this argument. Besides, I don’t think we can generalise this kind of contrite attitude to all death-sentence criminals in the US, can we? If somebody genuinely says sorry, acknowledges the stupidity of their past action, and shows their contrition, not just for one day but for an extended period of time already, do we still demand their eyes? Gandhi says that “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
What frustrates me is the government’s insistence on ‘using them as an example’ to the danger of illicit drugs – well, what about the sons or daughters of high-ranking ministers or celebrities then? Surely executing them would certainly create a bigger bang? In a lot of cases, those found to be guilty are somehow conveniently whisked away overseas or spend barely a month in jail before they are freed to continue their habits and lifestyle. Yes, travellers to Indonesia know the consequence of their actions if they commit serious crimes in Indonesia – but so do the locals. How come the laws of the land seem to use the poor and the minorities (including foreigners) as examples, and never those who are rich or famous?
Using human life as an excuse for a state-sanctioned murder is wrong – especially if it is used as a show of power for a president who is shadowed by other more powerful figures, or as an excuse for an inept and corrupt governance and administration. Yes, this plead for mercy should go beyond Andrew and Myuran, to those languishing in jails in China, US and other parts of the world where executions are still carried out. There is a saying in Indonesia that says, “Tak kenal maka tak sayang” which can be roughly translated as: “Know not, care not”. We rarely hear about contrite death-row criminals and when we do, it’s usually after the fact when they are successfully freed – or in some cases, when they are discovered to be innocent, posthumously. As for other countries like China, unless you go to sites like Amnesty International, you definitely won’t hear much about them in mainstream media. If we hear more about those, we can make our educated actions and pleas on their behalf, like what we have done for Andrew and Myuran.
Many people lament the fact that we live in a society with diminishing level of compassion. It’s no wonder, when more are losing their eyes and growing blind.