Indonesia defends executions; convicts die singing

Indonesia defends executions; convicts die singing
Updated 29 April 2015

Indonesia defends executions; convicts die singing

Indonesia defends executions; convicts die singing

CILACAP, Indonesia: Indonesia on Wednesday staunchly defended its execution of seven foreigners including two Australians as a vital front of its “war” on drugs as testimony emerged of how they went singing to their deaths.
Australia withdrew its ambassador in protest at the midnight executions, but Indonesian President Joko Widodo said he was merely applying “the rule of law” against narcotics traffickers.
The seven convicts — two from Australia, one from Brazil and four from Africa — were shot by firing squad 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.
After the executions, family members could be seen crying as they were ushered away by friends and supporters, an AFP reporter saw.
A Filipino 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.
He added: “We are fighting a war against horrible drug crimes that threaten our nation’s survival.
“I would like to say that an execution is not a pleasant thing. It is not a fun job,” Prasetyo told reporters in Cilacap.
“But we must do it in order to save the nation from the danger of drugs. We are not making enemies of countries from where those executed came. What we are fighting against is drug-related crimes.”

Diplomatic repercussions
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.
Australia had mounted a sustained campaign to save its citizens, who have been on death row for almost a decade, and Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the executions were “both cruel and unnecessary.”
“We respect Indonesia’s sovereignty but we do deplore what’s been done and this cannot be simply business as usual,” he said, announcing Australia’s unprecedented step of recalling its Jakarta ambassador.
Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, ringleaders of the so-called “Bali Nine” heroin trafficking gang, were described by Canberra as reformed men after years in prison.
The families said their sons did “all they could to make amends, helping many others” in the years since their arrests, with Sukumaran teaching fellow inmates English and art, and Chan ordained as a minister in February.
“They asked for mercy, but there was none,” the families said in a joint statement.
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, while Jakarta stocks fell heavily due in part to the effect of the death sentences on investor sentiment.

Drug menace
Widodo, who took office in October, says Indonesia is facing an emergency due to rising drug use, citing figures from the national anti-narcotics agency showing that more than 30 Indonesians die every day due to drugs.
However, some academics believe the agency’s data is flawed, while critics accuse Widodo of pursuing a populist policy following recent political problems.
The bodies of Chan and Sukumaran, in plain wooden coffins, arrived in Jakarta after being driven from Cilacap in two ambulances. They were taken to a funeral home and will soon be flown back to Australia for burial.
There were very different scenes in the Philippines after the last-minute reprieve for Veloso, whose case attracted emotional appeals for mercy from boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao among others.
“Miracles do come true,” her mother Celia told a Philippine radio station, adding that her daughter’s two boys aged 12 and six were awake and yelling “Yes, yes, mama will live.”
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.
Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, called the executions “extremely sad” in a statement.
“Indonesia appeals for clemency when its own nationals face execution in other countries, so it is incomprehensible why it absolutely refuses to grant clemency for lesser crimes on its own territory,” he said.


Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests
Updated 23 January 2021

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests
  • The first protests took place in the Far East and Siberia
  • Authorities vowed a tough crackdown with police saying unsanctioned public events would be “immediately suppressed”

MOSCOW: Russian police detained dozens of protesters on Saturday as supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny took to the streets following his call to protest against President Vladimir Putin’s rule.
Putin’s most vocal domestic critic called for mass rallies after surviving a near-fatal poisoning with a Novichok nerve agent and returning to Moscow last weekend following months of treatment in Germany. He was arrested at Sheremetyevo Airport and jailed.
The rallies — planned for dozens of cities across Russia — are expected to be a major test of the opposition’s ability to mobilize despite the increasing Kremlin pressure on critics and the coronavirus pandemic.
The first protests took place in the Far East and Siberia including Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Chita where several thousand took to the streets, Navalny supporters said.
OVD Info, which monitors detentions at opposition rallies, said around 50 people were detained in 10 cities.
Authorities vowed a tough crackdown with police saying unsanctioned public events would be “immediately suppressed.”
In Moscow, which usually mobilizes the largest rallies, protesters plan to meet in the central Pushkin Square at 2:00 p.m. (1100 GMT) and then march toward the Kremlin.

On the eve of the rallies, Navalny, who is being held in Moscow’s high-security Matrosskaya Tishina jail, thanked his supporters.
“I know perfectly well that there are lots of good people outside of my prison’s walls and help will come,” he said on Friday.
Navalny’s wife Yulia said she would join the protest in Moscow. “For myself, for him, for our children, for the values and the ideals that we share,” she said on Instagram.
Ahead of the demonstrations several key Navalny aides were taken into police custody for violating protest laws and handed short jail sentences to keep them away from the rallies.
The Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said Friday it launched a criminal probe into the calls for unauthorized protests.
A hastily organized court on Monday jailed Navalny for 30 days, and his supporters fear that authorities are preparing to sentence him to a long prison term to silence him.
Navalny’s team this week released an investigation into an opulent Black Sea property allegedly owned by Putin.
The “Putin’s palace” report alleges the Russian leader owns a 17,691 square meter mansion that sits on a property 39 times the size of Monaco and features a casino along with a theater and a hookah lounge complete with a pole-dancing stage.
The two-hour video report had been viewed more than 65 million times since Tuesday, becoming the Kremlin critic’s most-watched YouTube investigation.
The Kremlin has denied the property belongs to Putin.
Many Russians took to social media — including video sharing app TikTok hugely popular with teens — to voice support and urge a large turnout on Saturday.
A hashtag demanding freedom for Navalny was trending on TikTok as Russians flooded the Chinese app with thousands of videos.
Russia’s media watchdog warned online platforms against encouraging minors to participate in the rallies or risk hefty fines.
The watchdog said on Friday that media platforms, including TikTok, YouTube and Instagram, removed content at its request.
Russia’s most popular social network VKontakte blocked groups created to coordinate the protests in different cities.
But a number of public figures — including those who usually steer clear of politics — have spoken out in Navalny’s support.
Navalny, 44, rose to prominence a decade ago and has become the central figure of Russia’s opposition movement, leading large-scale street protests against corruption and electoral fraud.
His arrest drew widespread Western condemnation, with the United States, the European Union, France and Canada all calling for his release.