Rob Buckingham's Blog

Why Indonesia Just Shot Itself

I sit here still in shock at the execution of eight people by the Indonesians.  I had still hoped – against hope – that the authorities would see reason and allow these men to live, in prison, to continue the good work they had been doing since being rehabilitated.  But no, the executions went ahead.

For some people, that’ll be the end of it.  Some people don’t care. Others are glad it’s over because they’re fed up hearing about it in the news, after all, “these guys were hard-core drug traffickers and knew the risks over there.”  “Let’s not forget how many lives they would have ruined if they weren’t caught.”  And that’s true.  I wish all drug traffickers were caught; and I wish they got the people higher up the chain rather than just the drug mules who are often victims themselves.

One guy said, “They would never have come to know Jesus if they were not in this position.”  Really?  So you know the future and what would happen if things were different?

Another person wrote, “I won’t be losing any sleep they were scumbags.” Well those “scumbags” were someone’s son; someone’s brother; someone’s friend.  They were our friends who’d we’d got to know a few years ago and worked alongside to help with the projects that were reforming and rehabilitating 100s – if not 1000s – of other prisoners.  We’ve had the privilege of meeting many of these reformed people over the years – people who are now out of jail, off drugs, holding down good jobs, getting married, having kids and being responsible members of society.

That’s the sad truth here.  You see Indonesia has the death penalty in place for drug traffickers.  Indonesia also has a massive drug problem (so obviously the whole death penalty thing is not working as a great deterrent to the traffickers or users).  Indonesia needs help with its drug problem.  What they had in Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were two men who were helping to reform drug users, traffickers and other prisoners.

So, if you have people helping you achieve your goal of reducing drug crime you get alongside and help them right?  You find out what’s working and develop those projects in other prisons.  You resource them because what they’re doing is helping reduce the drug problem in your country.  That would make sense wouldn’t it?  No, not if you’re the Indonesian President.  You take these men (who were helping you reduce your country’s massive drug problem) out onto a lonely island in the middle of the night and shoot them.  There.  End of problem, right?  Wrong.

Indonesia woke up yesterday morning just a little poorer.  They lost eight people who had reformed under its prison system and because of political pressure and a need to increase political popularity they killed them.

What’s even worse, they were about to kill an innocent woman as well.  Mary Jane Veloso from the Philippines had always claimed an international trafficking gang tricked her into bringing 2.6kg of heroin to Indonesia from Malaysia five years ago as she chased a nonexistent job as a domestic worker.  The Indonesian justice system found her guilty and was about to kill her.  At the last minute Cristina Sergio, suspected of recruiting Veloso, turned herself in to authorities in the Philippines.  The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, granted a reprieve to Veloso.  They were about to kill an innocent person.  Right there is a good reason to be anti-death penalty.

And right now there are other innocent people who have been punished by the deaths of eight – their family members and close friends many of whom will live with grief and sadness for the rest of their lives.  In a way Indonesia shot them too.

I am angry at the injustice and hypocrisy demonstrated by the Indonesian authorities, but I will channel by anger into energy to continue to advocate against the death penalty, to help those in prison to reform and reform others, to help people out of poverty that often leads them into crime in the first place, and to give pastoral care to those who are affected by drugs.  I will continue to lead our church community at Bayside Church to show justice, mercy and love to a world so desperate for the genuine love of Jesus.

If you’d like to read more of this subject click on this link: http://baysidechurch.com.au/why-the-death-penalty-is-wrong/

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