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Southeast Asia: Australian Foreign Minister "Grateful" for Indonesia's Tough Drug Stance After Four Australians Sentenced to Death for Smuggling

Submitted by Phillip Smith on
Consequences of Prohibition
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

After the Indonesian Supreme Court sentenced four Australian citizens to death for trying to smuggle heroin from Bali to Australia, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told a press conference Tuesday night he was "grateful" for Indonesia's tough stance on drug policy. Downer held out little hope that the four, and two others already sentenced to death, would be spared.

Part of a group known as the "Bali Nine," the four Australians had originally been sentenced to lengthy prison terms, but prosecutors appealed the "lenient" sentences, and earlier this week the Supreme Court resentenced them to death. They join two other young members of the "Bali Nine" already sentenced to die in a case involving 18 pounds of heroin.

At the press conference called to confirm the imposition of the death sentences, Downer said the case would not harm relations between the two countries. "We actually urged the Indonesians to be tough on drug trafficking," he said. "The last thing we want is heroin brought into Australia from Indonesia. Don't make any mistake about that. We are grateful to the Indonesians for being tough on drugs. It's just that we don't support capital punishment. That they have arrested people who've been trafficking drugs means those drugs don't come into Australia and innocent Australians, or drug users in Australia innocent or not, aren't going to use those drugs, and that's a good thing."

Despite Downer's sanguine comments, Liberal Prime Minister John Howard, himself a staunch drug warrior, announced he would seek clemency, although he cautioned it would be unlikely. "I don't think people should entertain too many optimistic thoughts because it's difficult, but we will try hard and we will put the case against the death penalty," Howard said late on Wednesday.

Other Australian politicians have protested more loudly. "Judicial murder is what the Indonesian authorities have in mind here. It is a repugnant and barbaric practice," Green Senator Bob Brown told Reuters.

A group of Australian politicians who are members of Amnesty International said they would protest to the Indonesian government. "We should not sit back and say this is their laws and they can do what they want," said government MP Bruce Baird. Meanwhile, the six young Australians confront their imminent mortality.

One of the Australians sentenced to death, 20-year-old Scott Rush, said he was shocked by the ruling and pleaded for help. "This is making my head spin. I am sitting on death, am I?," he said. "At first I didn't want to appeal because of this sort of thing. I was scared and me and my parents were stressed. But everyone said no Australians would be put to death, and now I am on death row. If there is anything people can do to prevent this please make it happen because I need a second chance at life."

That's the way we do things in Indonesia, the country's top cop, General Sutanto said. "In Indonesia, drugs abuse is rampant because punishment has been too lenient. If we are not serious about tackling the problem, drug traffickers will not be deterred," Sutanto told reporters, according to Reuters.

Editor's Note: It's foolishly naive to think that the death penalty does or can deter drug trafficking. After all, many participants in the drug trade already risk death at the hands of their competitors routinely. A government adding a few more bodies to the pile does nothing to fundamentally alter that reality. Much more likely is that it will push the trade into the hands of the most dangerous kinds of criminals who are most comfortable taking the risk.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

You do the crime, you do the time. If Howard is against the Death penalty, why isn't he also asking clemency for the bali bombers? Hypocracy.

Fri, 09/08/2006 - 5:38am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Mankind has been using chemicals to alter consciousness for thousands of years. The idea that the death of these six young people will somehow impact this behaviour is ludicrous. The view that a government somehow has the moral license to take life to enforce its laws is illogical and in reality is an attempt by those in power to assuage their own guilty stance.
Rhubarb Koznowski

Fri, 09/08/2006 - 11:55am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

It is indeed a sad and sick commentary on the status of humankind to see such atrocities being carried out against our fellows, even worse when one considers how young these fellows are. Drug crimes are an abomination invented by governments across the planet only very recently in our pathetic history. No less than a hundred or so years ago, drug posession, use or even sales was never considered a significant social problem, and certainly never considered a crime anywhere on the planet. That such behaviors are criminal now is nothing more than a corupt invention.
This blastphemy was created by governments gripped in fear, fear of loss of thier power bases. These are the self same governments that think so highly of themselves, that they are imminently the crown of Divine creation, that they can do no wrong, being so educated, so enlightened, so benevolent, superheros one and all, veritable saints.
But this precise behavior has raised its vile head over and over, seemingly without end throughout our known history. The Spanish Inquisition is but one example. Then and there, the invented crime was "being anything but Catholic". Otherwise, the behaviors and actions of today's "modern and enlightened" governments are obviously identical to those of the Spanish despots then. Punish, elicit confessions (or its more modern equivalent, a preponderance of evidence), imprison, and ultimately, execute the heretics that dare to defy the beliefs, the exact morals of these rules intoxicated and impaired, not with drugs, but with power, power run rampant, unchecked as a direct result of their armies of "Drug Thugs" and their vastly superior weaponry, their wealth, and their ability to keep all of their other "citizens" well in line and their mouths tightly shut through propaganda, flagrant lies regarding the true nature of these drugs, and through pure fear tactics.
Nothing, it would seem, has changed. Our governments, nearly one and all, are anything but enlightened. They are viscious barbarians engaged in the wanton wholesale slaughter of those few that perhaps genuinely grasp a higher truth, that without any doubt collectively cause far less damage than the smallest of national world governments.
"Heil Downer, Heil Howard, and Heil Sutanto" and to your butchery of these free thinking and brave young men. You do great honor to Tomas de Torquemada. I wonder what method of execution you shall use, the actions you plan are spiritually depraved. Is this how you wish to go down in the annals of history, senseless killers?
Can you not imagine the immensity of the pain and sorrow your behavior will cause the mothers and fathers, the wives and the children of those whose horrific demise you have planned? It is absolutely incomprehensible to see educated and presumably worldly mature humans so poorly evolved as yourselves, and beyond that, in positions of such devastating power. It greatly darkens the hope for our survival as a species of this magnificent creation.
Can't you see? Don't you search your souls? Or do you just do what you think other people want you to do? Do you not think for yourselves? Can you really be such puppets that your decissions dictated by others, your lives defined by what you imagine others expect of you? Are you going to execute your fellows, or will you stand up as true men and show the rest of the world it is finally time for real change? Are you strong enough to do the right things, the things your hearts tell you to do? Its not about who's right, it's all about what's right, don't you know?
May such Deity of this Universe find reason to bestow undeserved mercy upon your eternal souls.
PS: It's not too late to change your little minds. Do seek counsel in whatever you conceive the Creator to be. Please!

Thu, 09/14/2006 - 10:06am Permalink

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