Anna, an ex-prisoner and a painting student of Myuran Sukumaran place a candle during vigil for two Australian, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan at night before the transfer in front of Kerobokan Prison, Bali, Indonesia.
Anna, an ex-prisoner and a painting student of Myuran Sukumaran place a candle during vigil for two Australian, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan at night before the transfer in front of Kerobokan Prison, Bali, Indonesia. Johannes P. Christo

Bali 9 on death row: No sympathy for drugs dealers...

MORE than 10 years ago, my brother in law died as a result of a drug overdose.

He had only just started to get his life on the right track again when he was given a bad batch of heroin at a local shopping centre.

Foolishly he took it.

His body was found in his unit several days later.

His death only reinforced my zero sympathy level for drug dealers who prey on the vulnerable.

But watching the way Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were taken to the so-called 'execution island' by Indonesian authorities yesterday left me with the same sick feeling.

To see them escorted like they were international terrorists in armoured vehicles, escorted by scores of police and military, accompanied even by a fighter jet, demonstrated this is more about show than substance.

If Indonesia wants to send a message to the world about being tough on drugs, fine.

Normally, I would support them.

But to execute two people, who by all accounts, have been completely reformed and rehabilitated makes absolutely no sense.

It will only add to the growing tide against the death penalty around the world.

And no doubt, the growing tide of Australian anger against Indonesia.

While it is too early to talk of sanctions, Indonesia will pay.

Australians, if they are true to their convictions, should avoid going to Bali.

They should give Indonesia a wide berth in their travel plans.

And Australia should pull back on the aid it gives to its neighbour.

While this will hurt ordinary Indonesians more than it will hurt their tough talking president, it may be the only way to get the message through to the political masters.

But let's hope it never comes to that.

President Joko Widodo has a very viable alternative.

As proposed by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop,  he could enter a prisoner swap deal with three Indonesians in Australian prisons over their role in a huge drug bust.

The three were the captain, the chief officer and the engineer of a boat carrying 390 kilograms of street-ready drugs to a beach near Port Macquarie, NSW.

At the time, the haul was Australia's largest drug bust. The drugs, of which the pure heroin component weighed 252.3 kilograms, was worth $600 million on the street.

Australian drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. FILE PHOTO
Australian drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. FILE PHOTO JEWEL SAMAD

Their heroin importation was 47 times bigger than Chan and Sukumaran's.

Chan, now a Christian minister, and Sukumaran, an accomplished painter, could offer so much more in life than death if they continue to help others in their rehabilitation.

Death by firing squad will only confirm that Indonesia's president has no mercy, no compassion, and no wisdom when it comes to the message he is trying to send to the world.

Mark Furler is Australian Regional Media's group digital editor. He has been a journalist on the Sunshine Coast for almost 30 years.

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