Indonesia has executed two Australians who had been convicted of drug charges, in a sentence that was was carried out despite global pleas to spare the duo from a firing squad.
Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were among those executed early Wednesday, according to the Jakarta Post. A total of eight prisoners were killed in Wednesday’s execution, the Jakarta Post reported.
One Filipino woman received a last-minute reprieve, according to the newspaper.
“We’ve carried out the executions,” an attorney general’s office official told the newspaper, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Sukumaran and Chan were arrested in Bali a decade ago for recruiting seven others to smuggle heroin from Indonesia into Australia. The other members of the “Bali Nine” received prison terms, but Sukumaran and Chan were sentenced to death.
A group of inmates, including Sukumaran and Chan, were given 72-hour execution notices over the weekend, which intensified last-ditch efforts to win reprieves for the convicts. The Associated Press reported that coffins for the inmates arrived Tuesday, and relatives were allowed to visit.
“We want to send a strong message to drug smugglers that Indonesia is firm and serious in tackling the drug problem, and one of the consequences is execution if the court sentences them to death,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo told Al Jazeera last month.
The executions were condemned in Australia, with some politicians tweeting about the deaths.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that a candlelight vigil was held across from the site of the executions, with prayers and music.
“Just being here is a statement that we care,” Owen Pomana, a New Zealander who said he was a friend of Chan’s, told the newspaper. “He’s my friend, he’s my brother.”
The inmates had KFC chicken on their last night, the Morning Heraldreported. Sukumaran and Chan, the newspaper noted, spent their final hours trying to offer comfort to loved ones.
“They were just amazing,” Sukumaran’s brother, Chinthu, told the newspaper. “They were strong and calm.”
Chan’s brother, Michael, also tweeted about the executions, the Guardian reported.
Sukumaran had been spending his final dayspainting and produced one piece called “Self Portrait Beneath the Shadow.” Another work, which depicts Sukumaran with a gaping black hole in his chest, was called “Self Portrait. Time is Ticking.”
“This is an extremely sad day for the families and friends of the eight people executed and all those who stood in solidarity with Myuran and Andrew, and others on death row, calling for their lives to be spared,” Diana Sayed, a human rights lawyer and crisis campaigner for Amnesty International, said in a statement.
Widodo, the first Indonesian president not to come from the country’s political or military elite, took office last fall, and has vehemently pursued harsh sentences for drug smuggling, calling illegal drug use a “national emergency.” In January, the Indonesian government put six convicts to death, including five foreigners — more executions than the country ordered in the previous six years combined.
In an earlier interview with the Jakarta Globe, Widodo rebuffed foreigners’ calls for clemency.
“I will say this firmly: No one may intervene with the executions because it is our sovereign right to exercise our laws,” he said.
The push to move forward with the executions sparked an international outcry from diplomats, lawyers, rights groups and a smattering of celebrities. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for a moratorium on Indonesia’s executions and a move toward abolition. The governments of Australia, France and the Philippines — which don’t have a death penalty — threatened diplomatic consequences if the country goes through with the executions.
Efforts continued on behalf of other prisoners scheduled for execution who were convicted for drug smuggling but who are not among the “Bali Nine.” Lawyers for Rodrigo Gularte, a mentally ill Brazilian man, filed a last-ditch appeal Tuesday arguing he should be hospitalized, not executed.
And women’s rights groups demonstrated for the release of the Filipino prisoner, 30-year-old migrant worker Mary Jane Veloso, who said she was set up by a recruitment agency.
Veloso was spared from the death sentence Wednesday, the Jakarta Post reported.
“The execution of Mary Jane is postponed due to a request from the Philippines President regarding a perpetrator who is suspected of human trafficking has surrendered in the Philippines and Mary Jane is needed for her testimony,” Tony Spontana, spokesman for Indonesia’s attorney general, confirmed to News.com.au.
“Miracles do come true,” Veloso’s mother, Celia, told a Philippine radio station, according to AFP.She added that her daughter’s young sons were yelling: “Yes, yes mama will live.”
Filipino boxing star Manny Pacquiao had joined the calls for clemency for Veloso, and Australian actor Geoffrey Rush joined several other celebrities in making a video calling for Prime Minister Tony Abbott to fly to Indonesia and bring Chan and Sukumaran home.
On Tuesday, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said her government was still pushing for a reduced sentence for the two Australians.
News Report: Washingtonpost