Travel boycott likely, Canberra warns Jakarta

Travel boycott likely, Canberra warns Jakarta

JAKARTA: Travellers from Australia may boycott Indonesia if Jakarta executes two Australians on death row for drug smuggling, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has warned, as the country stepped up pressure on Indonesia to not carry out the death sentences.

She also refused to rule out withdrawing diplomats.

But Jakarta yesterday remained steadfast in its decision, saying the pair had committed a “despicable” crime and the required legal process would take place.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir, in a regular weekly briefing, said: “What is being applied here is not targeted towards one country or one nationality, but towards all who carry out crime here, and for this (drug smuggling), the punishment is death.

“Such punishments are meted out on despicable acts like terrorism, murder and drug (offences),” he told reporters.

In an emotional speech to the Australian Parliament on Thursday, Ms Bishop pleaded for the lives of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, saying they had made “shocking mistakes” but deserved another chance.

“This motion goes to the heart of what we believe will be a grave injustice against two Australian citizens facing execution in Indonesia,” she said.

“Without doubt, Andrew and Myuran need to pay for their crimes with lengthy jail sentences but they should not need to pay with their lives.”

Warning Jakarta against underestimating the Australian public backlash, Ms Bishop told Fairfax radio yesterday: “I think the Australian people will demonstrate their deep disapproval of this action, including by making decisions about where they wish to holiday.”

Asked whether Canberra would consider withdrawing officials from Indonesia if the death penalties are carried out, Ms Bishop said “this is a matter still to be considered”, adding that “it’s a very tense situation”.

There is mounting tension as Indonesian authorities made plans to transfer the pair from prison to the site of their execution.

Chan, 31, and Sukumaran, 33, were arrested in 2005 for attempting to smuggle 8kg of heroin out of Bali into Australia.

The two leaders of the “Bali Nine” drug-smuggling gang have been on death row for almost a decade. The pair lost their appeals in December and last month.

Also to be executed are four Indonesians, and others from the Philippines, France, Ghana, Nigeria and Brazil.

Attorney-General H.M. Prasetyo said the executions of the 11 – eight of whom are on drug charges – will be carried out this month. It will be done when all the death-row inmates have been gathered at the Nusakembangan high-security prison in Central Java, the location of last month’s executions.

The latest case has drawn international scrutiny after Brazil and the Netherlands recalled their ambassadors, while the Nigerian government summoned its Indonesian ambassador to lodge a formal protest when their citizens were among six drug convicts executed by firing squad despite clemency pleas. That was Indonesia’s first series of execution since 2013 after a five-year gap.

President Joko Widodo, in his closing comments at an Islamic forum in Yogyakarta on Wednesday, remained unfazed, saying: “Who decides on a death penalty is the judge, and the President decides only whether to forgive.”

He described the drug situation as an emergency and vowed to get tough. “We have declared war on drugs,” he said, to applause.

Indonesia has one of the toughest drug laws. More than 130 people are on death row, including 57 drug convicts and two convicted terrorists.

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