Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Indonesia executes the Bali 'Eight.'!

When a traveller lands in Indonesia, two things stand out---especially for NZers. One is the sight of gun toting (they look like semi-automatics) police or soldiers and the other---- the large signs, clearly stating that if you bring in drugs, the death penalty is the consequence. I very much doubt that travellers did not know about the latter! Yet---people still take the risk, and at the moment there are numerous people on ‘death row,’ pursuing appeals and exploring every option re the ‘sometimes’ questionable Indonesian legal system. Many of these litigants have been on death row for many years; in the case of the two Aussies, nine plus years. Their appeals fell of deaf, or some would say ‘politically charged,’ ears, as the new president of Indonesia n refused all calls for clemency. There are those who say he is under pressure, re his presidency---he has not made the differences yet, that he promised in his election campaign. Let’s face it—who does in their first year! There have been accusations that he is doing a ‘classic’ John Key---he has sought a diversion, and the foreigners who transgress Indonesia’s’ tough drug laws are an easy target. He has the vast number of Indonesians behind him re this approach and they too believe that Indonesia has a huge problem with drug use. I have heard figures of up to 80,000 deaths a year attributed to drug use. Put aside those factors and look at Indonesia colonial past. They have had a long history of ‘Western interference’ in their lives and the calls from other nations to change the law, to drop the death penalty, have jigged’ the Indonesian response to one that says---‘leave us to make our own laws---you come here, break them, you accept the consequences. That the UN is one body that also calls for a change has also had no influence. Even in Australia and NZ, there is not a clear majority of those surveyed who wish to change the fate of drug dealers. Both nations are split, seemingly quite evenly on the issue of the death penalty re drug trafficking. The argument is often that---‘if you deal in drugs, you are killing people by your actions.’ Politicians in both countries are more than capable of using the issue for their own purposes. At the last moment we heard form a former lawyer for the Australian men, that two Indonesian judges allegedly tried to gain from the debacle, seeking a bribe to send down sentences that were non-death sentences. It seems that the Jakarta Government put a stop to that. So---there is also the question of corruption in the mix, one that the new president states is one of his main policy platforms. Australia has recalled its ambassador, for ‘consultations,’ an action that is not usual for such events. One would think that it is merely a cooling off. Australia (and NZ) must keep close relationships with its near neighbour. Neither nation can afford a serious breakdown in their ties. They need to work together on a number of issues, not the least being the ‘boat people,’ refugees, and crime. Hey---was it not the Australian police who informed their Indonesian counterparts about the two men and their ‘luggage?’ Australia could be accused of delivering the two men to their fate, so it’s a bit rich complaining after the fact! One thing is for sure. This is going to happen again. It still goes back to people making a decision, when they know the consequences and all the furore about human rights and the sanctity of life are in the end--- not going to make any difference! I do not favour the death sentence, and I would like to see an ‘arrangement’ made between the two Governments to find a better solution, but I can hear the clarion calls, when the cost for this is sent to the taxpayers! I suspect that NZers will remain divided over the whole issue too. One of course always has that feeling--what if they were innocent, as in the case of the ninth accused? That is one of my objections to the death sentence!