Sometime this month (February) Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran will be led out of their gaol cells and onto a plane. The plane will fly somewhere and land. They will then be placed on a boat to sail somewhere where the execution will take place. They will stand up, sit down or lie down and be shot by firing squad.
How cold blooded and merciless is that! In typical public service fashion everything will be meticulously documented and then filed away. No compassion, just cold blooded bureaucratic state killing.
“Why does it matter?” you might ask.
It matters because every human being on this earth counts. If we create a state killing system how can we ever define ourselves as true human beings?
We know both Sukumaran and Chan have changed. My guess is the sheer terror of the death penalty forced them to look at themselves and realise what they had become.
When they looked, what they saw were two people who thought money could solve all their problems. What they learned was it isn’t money that makes life better, its relationships.
What we have learned is that Chan and Sukumaran have become assets to society. The world will not be a better place for their passing. It will be a better place for their remaining in it.
To say “they did the crime – they deserve the penalty” is a mindless simplification of the complexity of human beings. I am learning that the death penalty is not really there to deter criminals (it doesn’t) but to make the righteous feel more righteous as they lie in their beds at night. In the highly competitive, money hungry world we live in the dollar is king. Corporates and individuals do as much as they can to fill their coffers.
“If it is legal – we do it” they say and then employ brigades of lawyers to keep them legal whether it be moral or not.
I am saddened at the powerlessness I feel in the face of what is going on. I spoke for Amnesty International against the execution of Van Tuong Nguyen in Singapore. Years before I was part of the movement against the execution of Barlow and Chambers also in Singapore. I spent years working with Barbara Barlow, Kevin’s mother as she tried to make sense of what happened to her son. The good that that woman did standing up for her boy in the face of mindless opposition and name calling stays with me to this day. The death penalty was wrong then and it is wrong now.
The reason the drug trade flourishes is because there is so much money in it. The reason there is so much money in it is because decades of criminalisation of drug taking activity has made it a lucrative business for people to get into. The international drug trade is so big now, countless people die in inter-gang shootouts and its billions of dollars international trade make it one of the biggest (if not the biggest) international money making operation.
We have allowed the “tough on drugs”, “war on drugs” approach to degenerate into the goodly waging war on its own children. It is our children who use many of these drugs and we want to blame others for introducing them to it. Our children are the ones who say “yes”.
Not only should we offer clemency to Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran but we should decriminalise all drug taking activity and make it a health issue rather than a legal issue. Taking the money out of the whole business will cause it to collapse overnight.
But no, we would rather play cops and robbers with criminals, make the whole situation worse, and every now and then bring sacrificial lambs to the firing squad.
Meanwhile, the “big” names those who finance the illegal drug smuggling activities gloat all the way to the bank. They are never caught. They are too rich and powerful. Blood money is what it is but we would rather let them get away with it and execute the small fry.