|You made mistakes, but didnt deserve to die.|
Watching the mother of Myuran Sukumaran weeping and pleading for the life of her son on TV last night was heart wrenching. But there was never any real prospect that her pleas or those of our political leaders, human rights Lawyers, or even the United Nations were going to fall on anything other than deaf Indonesian ears. That system is mired in corruption and entrenched and outmoded and ignorant attitudes to drug addiction and use in society, and 19th century beliefs about crime and punishment. Widodo has proven to be a blind inflexible dogmatist, not at all the liberal reformer he promoted himself as. He has become a weak and discredited puppet of the Sukarno legacy.
Eventually, inevitably the Death Penalty will be abolished as the place grows up, becomes civilised and modern, and perhaps the world wide revulsion at what has just taken place will hasten that development but for now the place is a pariah.
Capital punishment by any means, for any crime is always wrong in my opinion. If you believe in the sanctity of human life, that killing is wrong and war is wrong and you want it to stop, then you have to stop killing. You just have to stop. Its really very simple.
But as long as you imagine you can find reasons and circumstances where its OK to kill, and especially if its the State that is finding these reasons, then you are telling everyone that if YOU can find a good reason to kill, then you can. And so, in Indonesia a majority of people support the Death Penalty, whereas here in Australia and so many other countries where the Government has declared that the sanctity of human life is so great that no crime is sufficiently horrible that that sanctity should be violated, a huge majority do not support it.
Sadly our Governments stance in opposing it in the case of these two Australians exposes a kind of hypocrisy about the moral principle that underpins our legal approach to Capital Punishment. We should have opposed its use for the Bali bombers, we should oppose its use in the USA where not long ago a botched execution by lethal injection dragged on for an hour, in Saudi Arabia where a few days ago a screaming woman was held down by Police and beheaded in Public, we should oppose it in China even though we want their Trade, we should oppose it in Iran even though we now have some sort of security arrangement with them to identify Australians heading to Iraq and ISIS, we should just oppose it everywhere and under all circumstances because by doing so we are upholding the sanctity of human life and advancing the cause of peace.
Imagine how different the Kelly Story would have been if Capital Punishment had been abolished in Ned Kellys time. Unless he was a delusional paranoid schizophrenic Ned Kelly would not have believed the Police hunting him in the Wombats ranges might have been planning to kill him. He would not have felt compelled to kill them in self defence. He could not have been “Outlawed” and turned into a fugitive that anyone could shoot on sight. He would not have been hanged. And that would have been a good thing.
The crowds that gathered to support Ned in Melbourne were there to protest at Capital Punishment. They didnt support him personally, or his lifestyle choices, much as all the people in the candlelight Vigils in support of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were not there to support drug crime but to support their humanity and their families. The Gaunsons were prominent activists in the fight against Capital Punishment and I would have joined them in the streets to plead for Ned Kellys life, I would have signed their Petition to spare him, I would have been saddened and disappointed when those efforts failed, I would have felt for poor Ellen and Neds sisters and family in their grief, as I do today for Andrew and Myurans.
It took almost 90 more years to have the death Penalty abolished in Australia. I hope it doesn’t take that long in Indonesia.
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