In a last diplomatic resort, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has called on the Indonesian government to “reciprocate” for Australia’s billion-dollar aid package following the 2004 Tsunami by sparing the Bali nine pair.
Mr Abbott renewed calls for clemency of the two citizens on death row for drug smuggling warning that “Australia would feel grievously let down” and that we would “make our displeasure known” should Indonesia proceed with the executions.
“Let’s not forget that a few years ago when Indonesia was struck by the Indian Ocean tsunami Australia sent a billion dollars worth of assistance, we sent a significant contingent of our armed forces to help in Indonesia with humanitarian relief and Australians lost their lives in that campaign to help Indonesia.”
“I would say to the Indonesian people and the Indonesian government: we in Australia are always there to help you and we hope that you might reciprocate in this way at this time.”
Yesterday, Indonesian authorities announced that they would be delaying the planned transfer of the pair to Nusa Kambangan and that the execution were unlikely to happen this month.
The prime minister said this was an “encouraging sign” adding that he hoped Indonesia “realised that its own best values and its own best interests are served by not going ahead with these executions”.
But Indonesia’s foreign minister, Retno Marsudi, said “it should be underlined that this issue is purely a law enforcement issue, law enforcement against an extraordinary crime”.
Mr Abbott said Chan and Sukumaran, two of nine people that sought to smuggle heroin from Indonesia to Australia, deserved a long time in jail but they did not deserve to die.
“In fact, they have become, it seems, thoroughly reformed characters in prison in Bali and they are now helping the Indonesian fight against drug crime, so much better to use these people for good than to kill them.”