Bali nine:Despite Australia’s steadfast lobbying campaign for Indonesia to spare drug smugglers, it had no effect

April 28, 2015 6:18 pm

tried quiet, steadfast lobbying. It tried high-profile, emotive pleas. It tried incentives and even veiled threats.Australia considers options after sustained lobbying campaign for Indonesia to spare drug smugglers appears to have no effect.
But
nothing, it seemed, made any impact on Indonesia’s President, Joko
Widodo, in his determination to execute Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran
with seven other drug criminals.

Bali Nine Myuran Sukumara and Andrew Chan. Photo / AP

The impact on
Australian-Indonesian relations of the executions, which were expected
to go ahead early today Indonesian time, will become clearer over coming
days and weeks. Tony Abbott’s Government is reportedly considering
recalling the Australian ambassador to Jakarta, Paul Grigson.


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Some Australians – including a clutch of actors, who yesterday
urged the Prime Minister to make an 11th-hour mercy dash to Jakarta and,
in effect, grab Widodo by the lapels – have accused the Government of
not doing enough to save Chan and Sukumaran from the firing squad.

But insiders say Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, in
particular, has expended considerable time and energy in high-level
diplomatic efforts – which continued yesterday, with Bishop pleading in
back-to-back interviews for a stay of execution until legal avenues had
been exhausted.
She also hinted at the Government’s sense of
impotence, revealing that Australia asked Indonesia not to announce the
72-hour countdown on Anzac Day – a request it ignored.
Yesterday
afternoon, the visibly upset families of Chan, 31, and Sukumaran, 34,
travelled to the Javan prison island of Nusakambangan for what they
believed was their final visit. Also with them was Chan’s new Indonesian
wife, Febyanti, whom he married in prison on Monday. Adding to the
distress of the men and their families was Indonesia’s refusal to allow
the pair to have their chosen spiritual advisers – in Sukumaran’s case, a
Melbourne pastor and long-time friend, Christie Buckingham, in Chan’s a
Salvation Army minister and family friend, David Soper – with them when
they died.


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In an online video, Australian actors including Geoffrey Rush,
Joel Edgerton and Bryan Brown pleaded for mercy. Actor Brendan Cowell
urged Abbott to “get over to Indonesia and bring these two boys home,
show some balls”.
Bishop said she and the Prime Minister had been
counselled by Australian diplomats not to take that course. “If there
was any indication that being in Indonesia would help, of course we
would be there,” she said. “But that’s not the advice we’ve received.”
Far
from not doing enough, according to Associate Professor Greg Fealy, an
Indonesia expert at the Australian National University, the efforts of
Abbott and Bishop were “unparalleled in Australian diplomatic history”.
During
the sustained lobbying campaign, Australia has – all to no avail –
offered Indonesia a prisoner swap and funds for a drug rehabilitation
programme, pointed out Indonesia’s efforts to save its own citizens on
death row overseas and reminded it of Australia’s generous aid effort
following the 2004 tsunami.
The plan to execute citizens of
Brazil, Ghana, Nigeria and the Philippines, as well as the two
Australians and one Indonesian, provoked an international outcry. An
appeal by Chan and Sukumaran against Widodo’s refusal to grant them
clemency has yet to be heard by the Constitutional Court, while claims
that their trial judges offered lenient jail in exchange for bribes are
still being investigated.
Dave McRae, an Indonesia expert at
Melbourne University’s Institute, said Australia needed to “do more
than simply expressing condemnation” and consider suspending aspects of
bilateral co-operation.

Last words
One was dubbed “The Godfather”. The other, “The Enforcer”.
Whether those tags ever fitted Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran is debatable.
When
they were arrested in Bali in 2005 over an attempt to smuggle 8.3kg of
heroin, worth around A$4 million, they at least looked the part. Chan,
21, had a shaved head, gold earrings, tattoos and a smug veneer.
Sukumaran, 24, loomed a head above him, silent and defiant.
Chan was
known as a hard worker at Eurest, the catering company for the Sydney
Cricket Ground. Sukumaran was a university drop-out and mailroom worker.

By 2010, when the SBS programme Dateline visited them in Kerobokan
jail, the pair’s defiance had vanished. By that stage, they had admitted
their criminality and stupidity. They had changed.
Sukumaran was
studying for a degree in fine arts and had become an accomplished
painter. Chan had found a home in the prison chapel and kitchen. They
are the finest examples of Indonesia’s capacity to rehabilitate – a
priest and a painter.

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