bali nineAustralians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were among eight drug offenders
executed by firing squad today. Photo: Al Jazeera/Reuters


Amid international calls for mercy, the Indonesian government has executed eight people, including Bali Nine Australian 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.

Nonsensical executions

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. Australia 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.The Conversation

Tobias Basuki is a Researcher at the Department of Politics and International Relations Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Indonesia. This article is one of four opinions originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.