It’s hard to believe that this time last year Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran had only a few hours left before their execution by firing squad on Nusakambangan Island, Indonesia. Christie was at Chilachap, along with Andrew and Myu’s family and some of their friends, making daily visits to the boys. She was with them to the very end.
Here we are one year later. The busyness of last-minute appeals, media interviews and other efforts to seek clemency for two reformed men has given way to quiet reflection, sadness of friends who are no longer with us and efforts to pick life up and continue with their legacy. Their legacy definitely lives on through the projects they pioneered and developed inside Kerobokan Prison giving help for prisoners to find meaning and purpose in their days behind bars.
Beyond the projects are the people who have been reformed through Andrew and Myuran’s work. Many of these transformed people are now out of prison and leading productive lives that contribute in a positive way to life in Indonesia and other nations. As I wrote at the time, “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.” But instead of getting alongside these men and resourcing them in helping reduce the drug problem in Indonesia, they took them out onto a lonely island in the middle of the night and shot them.
Because of this, Indonesia is a little poorer today and is still struggling with a massive drug problem – one that the death penalty is not helping them overcome.
Both Andrew and Myuran were fiercely opposed to the death penalty and asked their family and friends to continue to advocate against it. 2015 saw an alarming increase in the number of executions. China is by far the worst violator, followed by Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United States of America. There is much work to be done.
One of the reasons I’m against capital punishment is because it doesn’t just punish the guilty it punishes the innocent too – 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. To see the sadness in the eyes of loved ones is devastating. At times you can see their minds still trying to comprehend the horror of what has happened.
I am still angry at the injustice and hypocrisy demonstrated by the Indonesian authorities twelve months ago, but I will continue to channel my anger into energy and 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 Good News of Jesus.
If you’d like to read more on this subject, here are some other blogs: