Myuran, Andrew deserve to live

  • Articles and op-ed
13 February 2015

Australia’s justice system is based on the principle that people should be given the opportunity to reform their lives after paying a penalty for their crimes. 

That sentiment is reflected in the Government’s determination to do all it can to seek a stay of execution and clemency for two Australians, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who face the death penalty for serious drug offences in Indonesia.  

Many Australians share the Government’s view that these young men deserve a second chance.  Hundreds of emails from concerned people have flooded inboxes of Parliamentarians; crowds have attended rallies and vigils and more than 30,000 Australians have written to the Indonesian President and members of the Indonesian Government, respectfully calling for execution plans to be halted.

Our shared hope is that the Indonesian Government, and its people, will show mercy to Andrew and Myuran.  Both men are sincerely remorseful for their shocking actions and serious mistakes and have made extraordinary efforts to rehabilitate. They are the very model of what penal systems the world over seek to achieve. 

Successive governors of Kerobokan Prison in Bali, whose prison has given Andrew and Myuran the opportunity to reflect and change, have testified to their transformation.  A decade on from their crime, Andrew and Myuran are deeply committed to a new path.   

It is Indonesia that will lose the most from executing these two young men. Both are paying their debt to society. With dedication, and unwavering commitment, they are improving the lives of their fellow prisoners.  As a pastor, Andrew provides religious counselling and guidance to fellow inmates, while Myuran leads arts, cultural and other courses, preparing prisoners for their return to society.  

Their fellow prisoners have also come forward in support of Andrew and Myuran, writing to the Indonesian President offering to take their place in execution.  

In urging Indonesia not to proceed with the executions of Andrew and Myuran, we are by no means underestimating the problem of drug-related crimes. Nor are we downplaying the gravity of the crimes these two men committed.  

In Australia, we too face these challenges. That is why Australia and Indonesia share a commitment to reduce the scourge of illegal narcotics and their destructive impact on our countries, the impact of which disproportionately falls on the poorest and the most vulnerable members of our communities.

Australia and Indonesia work in partnership to address drug-related crime at all levels. No country has done as much as Australia to support Indonesia in this area. 

We have bilateral cooperation between police and law enforcement authorities, and Australia also supports drug rehabilitation and harm reduction programs in Indonesia. These programs have saved Indonesian lives.  

Through the effectiveness of the Australia-Indonesia anti-narcotics cooperation, Indonesian nationals have served or are currently serving lengthy prison sentences in Australia for drug crimes. 

Some of them were arrested attempting to import illegal drugs into Australia. These Indonesians will have the opportunity to make amends for their crimes and to re-emerge as reformed citizens upon the conclusion of their sentences because Australia has rejected the death penalty.

The families of these two young Australians have spoken openly and in heartbreaking terms of their hopes for a stay of execution.  The Government stands resolutely with both families. 

We will not give up hope and we will continue our efforts to save the lives of Andrew and Myuran.

Media enquiries