The planned execution of Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra forces us to ask if our opposition to the death penalty only applies when it affects Australians - and if so, then why. In many ways, our fates are shaped by accidents of birth - our health, wealth, opportunity - all the result of factors over which we have no control. It might seem like sheer bad luck to have been born a citizen of a state that executes its condemned.
However, as I noted above, the question here is not about the attitude of the Indonesian state - but about our own perspectives. Do we think that an accident of birth is relevant in this matter? Do we think that it's OK to be indifferent or inconsistent when it comes to the fates of strangers - or to those whom we assume to be very different to us because of geography, culture or religion?
That is how Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra think. They think that people can be killed because they are different. And they assume that we would have them killed for the same reason. No doubt they believe that Australians only care about their own, that we will celebrate their deaths because we hate Muslims, that we treat people like them as less than us. It is these beliefs, held by the Bali bombers, that we privilege ourselves at their expense that allows them to delude themselves into thinking their bombing to be a noble deed waged against a corrupt foe.
What is our best answer to the Bali bombers? Is it that we should condemn the death penalty for our own but seek its imposition on others? Is it that we should look away and remain silent? Or should we answer by denying the core of their claim - that we are hypocrites? Even now, should we call for them to be spared and require them to live out their lives confounded by generosity of spirit and forced to live with the evil that they have done?
The 2002 Bali bombings occurred on 12 October 2002 in the tourist district of Kuta on the Indonesian island of Bali. The attack was the deadliest act of terrorism in the history of Indonesia, killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.
The attack involved the detonation of three bombs: a backpack-mounted device carried by a suicide bomber; a large car bomb, both of which were detonated in or near popular nightclubs in Kuta; and a third much smaller device detonated outside the United States consulate in Denpasar, causing only minor damage.
Various members of Jemaah Islamiyah, a violent Islamist group, were convicted in relation to the bombings, including three individuals who were sentenced to death. Abu Bakar Bashir, the alleged spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, was found guilty and sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment. Riduan Isamuddin, generally known as Hambali and the suspected former operational leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, is in U.S. custody in an undisclosed location, and has not been charged in relation to the bombing or any other crime.
Executing the Bali bombers: Why the delay, ask Indonesians
Few tears will be shed in Indonesia for the three convicted Bali bombers as they face their execution. There will certainly be more cheers. The death penalty is firmly a part of Indonesia's legal code and there is no chance that this will change any time soon.
Western liberals regard judicial killing as barbarous. In Australia, as in many countries, execution no longer exists as the ultimate sanction the law may impose on a criminal. This is as it should be. Locking up killers and throwing away the key is a far better option.
But ethical appreciation differs between societies, as do the laws applying to crime and punishment. In Indonesia, where the prevailing view is that a person is subject to predestination, having your final moment facing a firing squad is widely regarded less as a matter for repetitious jurisprudence than one of any questions being directed to the Fates: It is either Insha'Allah or karma. Even Indonesia's substantial national Christian community is unmoved by the moral arguments advanced in the West about the ethical benefits of allowing murderers to continue to draw breath at public expense when they have killed people.
Thus the vast majority of Indonesians - themselves overwhelmingly Muslim - are indifferent to the fate of Amrozi, Mukhlas (Ali Ghufron) and Imam Samudra: even if their political and religious motivation for mass murder is explainable (and it is, to some Indonesians), their crime is understood as horrific and unjustified. It is therefore unarguable, in the Indonesian mind, that they should pay the price exacted by the law.
Moreover, there is growing impatience with the fact that the three self-proclaimed "martyrs" - mere dupes in the great game of world jihad, dull-witted foot soldiers in the ersatz war against the Infidel being waged on the periphery of Indonesian society - have been doing everything they can to delay their departure to paradise.
This view - expressed by feedback reader Izzudin to the Jakarta Post newspaper - is typical: "Just do it. Don't drag out every last moment of drama like some [TV] soap opera. Just execute them quietly like any other convicted criminal and be finished with it."
As the writer of this article asks: What is our best answer to the Bali bombers?
How do those of us who have consistently opposed capital punishment respond the the perpetrators of the 2002 Bali bombings being executed for their actions? Do we make a distinction between those who were responsible for a shocking "terrorist" act in Bali, yet on the other hand, abhor the use of capital punishment by (some Asian) governments intent on punishing drug smugglers by imposing the death penalty?
As a long time opponent of capital punishment I've found my own reaction to the execution of the Bali bombers (any day now) confronting & quite confusing.
Also...it will make them martyrs.
I do agree with you, Deb.
But what's made it so difficult for me to publicly advocate for leniency in this case is that the Bali bombers have been quite (obnoxiously, even) unrepentant for their actions. Sounding as though they would do exactly the same again, given half the chance. That's what I've found difficult about this situation. I guess others (who would normally be totally opposed to the death penalty) here in Oz have, too, because they've remained (publicly, anyway) silent.
Last meal as killers prepare to meet their God
November 3, 2008/Sydney Morning Herald
RELATIVES of the Bali killers Amrozi and Mukhlas prepared the bombers' last meal yesterday in anticipation of their appointment with a firing squad as early as this morning.
Parents who lost children in the 2002 Bali bombings had mixed feelings about the impending executions.
"I just want it all to be over," said Cynthia Foley, whose 34-year-old son Shane was among the 202 people who were murdered in the blasts.
"I'm not the type of person that would have wanted [execution], but they seem to have been partying in prison. It's not right."
But Gayle Dunn, the mother of 18-year-old Craig, still opposes the death sentence for her son's killers.
"I just think they're getting what they wanted," she said. "They're just going to become martyrs."
Ms Dunn has channelled her grief over Shane - "a great kid who loved surfing, camping, fishing" - into raising money for a community centre in Ulladulla that will help young victims of loss and trauma.
Brian Deegan, who lost his 22-year-old son Josh, has vocally opposed the death penalty since it was first proposed for the bombers. "It's a violent episode, and it's being used partly in my son's name. And that's something that I take no pleasure in," he said.
In the East Java village of Tenggulun the killers' family were packing dates, flat breads and sweets from the Middle East for the condemned and sarongs as gifts for other prisoners.
They left for Nusakambangan prison late yesterday to see the brothers and their fellow death-row inmate, Imam Samudra.
Their lawyers headed to Denpasar to try to lodge documents for another judicial review on behalf of the families - a tactic intended to make the executions appear premature and unjust.
Jaffar Sidik said his brothers must "accept their situation and take it as a test from God". ...<cont>