Bali nine: Indonesia point of view for execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran

April 29, 2015 4:14 pm

Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were executed international calls for mercy. Photo / AP

Amid international calls for mercy, the Indonesian government
has executed eight people, including Nine duo Andrew Chan and
Myuran Sukumaran.
This is the second round of
executions under President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi. He
justified the killings as a “shock therapy” to solve Indonesia’s drug
crisis.
Indonesian experts respond below.

Nonsensical executions

Tobias
Basuki, Researcher at the Department of Politics and International
Relations Centre for Strategic and International Studies

Indonesia
has lost its moral standing internationally given it is also attempting
to save the lives of its own citizens on death row abroad – some of
whom have been convicted of drug-related crimes as well. But, more
importantly, it has twisted and jumbled its own legal system.

Eight more lives have been lost. Among them are
reformed Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Ghanaian Martin
Anderson and Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte – who was reportedly diagnosed
with paranoid schizophrenia.
The Indonesian
Constitution maintains the right to life. However, beyond normative
ideas of human rights and the rule of law, the sense of justice in
Indonesia has been turned upside-down.
The
Indonesian government has taken the lives of rehabilitated criminals, a
“petty” criminal, who was caught with 50 grams of drugs, and a
reportedly mentally ill person. However, it practically released killers
hailed as “heroes” who butchered fellow Indonesians in cold blood in
the 2011 Cikeusik massacre.
It
is tragic to have already lost 14 lives to executions since Jokowi took
office. and other countries that objected to the death
penalty to save the lives of their citizens should continue the campaign
to abolish it.
The indignant reactions by foreign
leaders and some aggressive statements and actions in response to the
previously planned executions have been counter-productive. They have
all but nailed their own citizens’ coffins by arousing a backlash of
nationalistic sentiment from within Indonesia. That left no room for
Jokowi to backflip on his refusal to grant clemency, no matter how small
the possibility was.
Australia in particular would
do well to stay on the campaign constructively, not by threats of
boycotts and belligerent statements. Maintaining advocacy efforts
against the death penalty will vindicate Australia’s position and shield
it from accusations it is merely serving its national interest. It
would prove that Australia’s objection to the death penalty was not mere
self-interest, but that it is genuine in wanting a greater value placed
on the right to life and a better legal system in Indonesia.



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Death penalty derails Indonesia’s legal reform efforts

Asmin Fransiska, Lecturer in Human Rights at Atma Jaya Catholic University
The
Indonesian government is wrong for arguing that upholding the death
penalty is a matter of “law enforcement”. The death penalty actually
derails efforts to reform the country’s legal system.
Law enforcement institutions in Indonesia are tainted by a corrupt bureaucracy and dirty legal apparatus. Cases of torture
are not hard to find. Under these circumstances, it is possible that
the death penalty is imposed as a result of a mistaken legal process.
Death
penalty sentencing is also laden with discrimination. It is used
disproportionately for certain groups of people. The death penalty never
touches perpetrators from the elite, rich and powerful.
The
use of the death penalty derails legal reform objectives. One of the
goals in criminal law reform is to change perspectives on punishment.
The purpose of punishment is not only deterrence or condemnation, but
also restorative justice.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNAIDS have said:

States
should review and reform criminal laws and correctional systems to
ensure that they are consistent with international human rights
obligations and are not misused in the context of HIV or targeted
against vulnerable groups.

The issues
of drugs are mostly not only related to the user or seller, but most of
the time it deals with the range of people who help or merely associate
with those who sell drugs.
All crimes should be
viewed in a legal context as a social, cultural and economic problem. To
carry out the death penalty by claiming it deters drug crimes without
addressing the three issues is a misguided policy.
The
death penalty has become one of the biggest obstacles in applying
international human rights principles in Indonesia’s legal reforms.
Indonesia ratified the International Convention on Civil and Political
Rights (ICCPR) in 2005. Article 6 of the ICCPR stipulates that
defendants should be guaranteed fair trials that are non-discriminatory
and free from torture and degrading punishment. In Indonesia, these
guarantees have been violated as shown in the examples above.
Finally,
there is no significant proof that the death penalty deters crime.
Death sentences for drug traffickers have not stopped illegal sales of
narcotics.
The increase in drug trafficking,
terrorism or other crimes should not be seen as a result of weak
implementation of the death penalty. We must look at the issue as a
structural problem. Misconduct by law enforcers, a corrupt bureaucracy,
poverty and the government’s inability to provide a solution is evidence
of a structural problem that needs to be tackled without reverting to
the death penalty as an answer.

‘Shoot first, ask later’

Yohanes Sulaiman, Lecturer in International Relations at Indonesian Defence University
Jokowi’s
administration seems to be a “shoot first, ask later” government. I
think the president did not spend a long time thinking about the
long-term implications of his policy of executing drug convicts on death
row. He seems to think everybody must hate drug traffickers, so
therefore it is okay to shoot them.
Jokowi was
caught off guard by the international reaction to his policy to execute
foreign nationals convicted of drug trafficking. At the same time, he
used this international pressure against Indonesia as an opportunity to
look strong in front of the Indonesian people.
Jokowi’s reaction to calls from foreign leaders
to spare the lives of the death-row convicts differs from the attitude
of his predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY). If this
international backlash against Indonesia had happened in SBY’s term, the
then president would have been very unhappy.
However,
Jokowi just shrugged it off. He is not concerned about being seen
negatively by the international community. He is more inclined to show
himself as a strong father figure and leader who would defend
Indonesians from the drug scourge and international pressures.
The
more the international community fought the president’s decision on
executions, the more Jokowi gained from it. Still, it is doubtful
whether the political points scored from standing up to international
pressure will have a long-term effect – or even that the gain would be
that high. The reason is that, domestically, most people do not really
care about the executions and most of the attention is on the
undermining of the corruption eradication commission.
Australia-Indonesia
relations will not be disrupted too much. For Australia, in the long
run, maintaining a good relationship with Indonesia is worth more than
the lives of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. However, Jokowi could
have used this opportunity to form an alliance and win Australia’s
support for Indonesia in saving its citizens on death row abroad, such
as in Saudi Arabia.
Human rights groups are very
disappointed with Jokowi’s policy on executions as it does not uphold
human rights principles. Some supporters have become disillusioned with
him. However, it is not fair to blame Jokowi for their disappointment.
He did not base his presidential campaign on human rights issues, even
though it was included in his campaign manifesto.
Jokowi
was more of a blank canvas. Supporters painted what they wanted him to
be during the presidential campaign. As he was going up against
ex-military general Prabowo Subianto – who had a bad human rights record
– people assumed that Jokowi would be better on human rights issues.
People
had expected too much of Jokowi. When it turns out that he is just
another politician, naturally they will be disappointed.

Myuran Sukumaran was executed in Indonesia alongside Andrew Chan. Photo / Getty Images
Myuran Sukumaran was executed in Indonesia alongside Andrew Chan. Photo / Getty Images

Crowd versus public

Andina Dwifatma, Lecturer in the School of Communication at Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia
On
March 2, Kompas – one of Indonesia’s biggest daily newspapers –
published an opinion poll about how people saw Jokowi’s foreign policy.
One of the questions asked was about Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran’s
executions.
Some 86% of respondents agreed that
Chan and Sukumaran should be executed regardless of the Australian
government’s protests. To these people, Jokowi’s move represents
strength – a character that leaders must possess.
A
question lingers amid talk of being firm on drug traffickers. Is the
death penalty necessary to show strength in the war against drugs? Or is
it merely the president’s desperate way to prove that he possesses that
quality, especially after he could not be firm in stopping the
Indonesian police from undermining the country’s anti-graft agency?
In
the same opinion poll, 57.8% respondents were willing to cut off
diplomatic relations with any country that failed to show respect for
Indonesia’s law, including Australia. This noticeably high percentage
shows that, for most Indonesians, national pride is something important
to hold on to.
To understand the high percentage of
people supporting the death penalty and having nationalistic attitudes,
it is important to distinguish between the concepts of the “public” and
the “crowd”.
A crowd is moved by a unity of
emotional experience. Crowd members tend to be reactive rather than
deliberative. In the crowd, individuals easily lose their own identity,
and act only according to collective desire.
This is why some people approve of killing other people in the name of national pride. This is also why people in Aceh gathered coins
to repay Australia after Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s
comments linking tsunami aid and the lives of Chan and Sukumaran.
Meanwhile,
the “public” means individuals gather not only in the name of empathy,
but also for the ability to think and to argue. A group of people can be
called “public” when faced with common problems; they express point of
views regarding the problem and are willing to be involved in
discussions to find a solution.
Take Filipino Mary Jane Veloso‘s case. From Twitter hashtags and online petitions
to community actions and discussions, people examined Veloso’s story as
a human trafficking case. People, including Indonesians, used
chronological data of Veloso’s case to argue that Jokowi should have
granted clemency for her. The public did not only shout angrily at the
Indonesian government; they argued with reason. Veloso was spared from
the firing squad at the 11th hour.
Being part of
the crowd will only prevent Indonesians – and also Australians – from
seeing the larger picture of the debate about the death penalty. It will
also rule out any chance of dialogue between the two countries.
The
best thing we can do now is to make sure we stay together as “public”.
Hate speech, and reactive and violent actions, should be avoided. The
public does not, and need not, always agree. Combining differences of
opinion with a desire to solve problems together is a prerequisite of
public existence.
The Conversation

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