Indonesian executions spark int’l anger
Indonesia faced a storm of international protest Wednesday for putting seven foreign drug convicts before a firing squad, but Filipinos rejoiced after a compatriot was spared at the last minute.
Australia withdrew its ambassador in protest at what it called “cruel and unnecessary” executions, Brazil expressed strong regret and France vowed a diplomatic battle to save a citizen still on death row.
Indonesia staunchly defended the executions as a vital front of its “war” on drugs, as testimony emerged of how the condemned men went singing to their deaths.
The seven — two from Australia, one from Brazil and four from Africa — were shot along with one Indonesian, despite strident foreign appeals and pleas from family members.
Brazil expressed “deep regret” at the execution of its national, who is mentally ill according to his family, and said it was weighing its next move.
The condemned men reportedly all refused blindfolds and sang hymns, among them “Amazing Grace,” as they went to face the firing squad in a jungle clearing, according to a pastor who was with them.
As the clock ticked down to midnight, a group of tearful supporters also sang hymns, embraced and held candles aloft during a vigil at the port in Cilacap, the gateway to the prison island of Nusakambangan.
A Filipina originally set to be executed was given an 11th hour reprieve after a woman who allegedly duped her into ferrying drugs to Indonesia came forward to police in the Philippines.
The reprieve for Mary Jane Veloso was hailed in the Philippines as a miracle and a gift from God, but Indonesian Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo stressed it was only a “postponement” to allow time for police investigations.
Prasetyo also played down Australia’s decision to recall its ambassador, describing it as a “temporary reaction,” while Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi stressed Jakarta’s desire to “continue having good relations” with one of its most important trading partners.
There were already signs of fallout Wednesday with former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono canceling a trip to Perth, citing concern about reaction to the executions. Jakarta stocks closed down 2.34 percent due in part to the effect of the death sentences on investor sentiment.
The bodies of Chan and Sukumaran, in plain wooden coffins, arrived in Jakarta after being driven from Cilacap in two am- bulances. They were taken to a funeral home and will soon be flown back to Australia for burial.
Little is known about the other four executed foreigners — three of them are from Nigeria but it is not clear whether the fourth held Ghanaian or Nigerian nationality.
France said Wednesday it was mobilizing all diplomatic options to try to save Serge Atlaoui.
The 51- year- old Frenchman was originally among the group set to be executed but was granted a temporary reprieve after Indonesia agreed to allow an outstanding legal appeal to run its course.
“Full diplomatic efforts continue on this issue,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told a cabinet meeting.
French President Francois Hollande has warned that Indonesia would face diplomatic “consequences” if it executes Atlaoui.