We all make mistakes. But some mistakes can literally lead to life or death. As a young man in his twenties, Myuran Sukumaran made the wrong decision to commit a crime, along with his friend Andrew Chan, and now the pair face execution in Indonesia.
On April 17, 2005, Myuran and other members of the Bali Nine (the name given to the group of men who planned to smuggle 8.3 kg of heroin valued at about A$4 million from Indonesia to Australia), were arrested for drug trafficking in Bali, Indonesia. For their involvement, Myuran and Andrew were sentenced to death by firing squad on February 14, 2006.
Myuran has apologised for his crime and is an example of how someone can change. Since his conviction, Myuran has made world news regularly for transforming Kerobokan prison, where he’s being held, into a positive place over the past six to seven years.
One of Myuran’s cousins shared the following details with us about his transformation in prison:
“He has worked diligently to initiate classes and activities, which allow inmates to improve themselves. The transformation took a lot of hard work and determination, with Myuran having to regularly seek permission from the prison governor to allow these rehabilitation workshops to run. The activities did not exist before and it was through gaining the trust of guards, successive prison governors and inmates that he was able to accomplish so much. The different activities that Myuran has initiated include asking different Australian and international artists, teachers and lecturers to come to teach prisoners about art, philosophy, graphic design, dance, music, English, film and photo editing. Myuran’s efforts have also helped prisoners gain skills and certificates that they can use when they are released.”
In June of 2011, when Myuran appealed to have his sentence commuted to life, the former Kerobokan prison governor Pak Siswanto, who was moved by Myuran’s transformation, took the unprecedented step to speak out on his behalf. This was very rare and done so at personal risk. Pak Siswanto indicated that in all his time, he had never met a prisoner like Myuran and that execution was the wrong punishment in his case.
To date, Myuran has had his bid for clemency from the Indonesian President rejected and he is facing the prospect of being executed. Execution comes through being taken to a remote place, getting tied to a post or a wooden cross, as a group 12 armed executioners with guns line up and start shooting. It is often said that death comes slowly.
Myuran’s family, friends and community have come together to appeal to the decision makers. However, Indonesia’s President, Joko Widodo, recently told CNN in an interview that there would be “no compromise” for drug traffickers on death row.
Myuran, Andrew and their families remain hopeful and seek any support they can receive as the men fight for their lives.
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