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Friday, January 9, 2015

Myuran Sukumaran's death sentence upheld

Ring leader of the Bali 9, Myuran Sukamaran, has lost his last hope of escaping the death penalty for trying to smuggle heroin to Australia in 2005.  After a trial, he was sentenced to execution by firing squad on 14 February 2006 by the Denpasar District Court.

It was hoped that the newly elected Indonesian president Joko Widodo would be sympathic to human rights, but he wasn't impressed by those who said he had been completely rehabilitated.  "Fifty people in Indonesia die every day because of drugs - they can't be rehabilitated" he said.

But it's clear the president isn't familiar with Myuran's case.  He wasn't aware that he was trying to take 8.2kg of heroin out of Bali, not bringing it in.  No matter, he made it crystal clear that he wants all 64 drug smugglers on death row executed as soon as possible, as a warning to the world.

Meanwhile Myuran is devastated.  "My mum's on the floor in tears" he said.  "My sister is in tears and can't talk, my brother's so shocked he didn't know what to say, is there no such thing as rehabilitation, can't someone change?"

"All the big drug dealers are free and clear to do what they want because they pay people off big time. This is the only thing me and Andrew can't do, is to pay big money.  We were attempting to take drugs out of Indonesia, not importing them. We failed, we stuffed up, we were wrong, we know that, we are paying for that.  Our families are paying for our mistake."

Prime Minister Tony Abbot said "We oppose the death penalty for Australians at home and abroad. We obviously respect the legal system of other countries but where there is an attempt to impose the death penalty, we make the strongest possible diplomatic representations."

Myuran heads a group of 20 prisoners, including those facing execution.  He teaches computer and graphic design courses which give other inmates much needed job skills and once described his arrest as "a blessing."

 "......when I think back over my life, I never really contributed anything but I'm doing all sorts of stuff around here, it feels good, really good."

Myuran with Andrew Chan

Myuran is an Australian citizen who was born in London in 1981 of Sri Lankan parents.  In 1985 the family migrated to Australia and he attended Homebush Boys School in Sydney where he met fellow inmate Andrew Chan, also on death row.  He worked in a mailroom, had clerical jobs and was later employed in the passport office in Sydney.