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Putting the Painter and the Pastor into Perspective



Australian’s Pastor Andrew Chan and Painter Myuran Sukumaran were executed (29 April) by firing squad on the prison island of Nusakambangan, Indonesia, prompting Australia to recall its ambassador from Jakarta in protest.

I cannot imagine the roller coaster of pain and grief these families had to endure, but the whole sorry saga and the failure to secure a reprieve has not only resulted in a media and political circus, but an emotional storm in Australia.

two-australians-2005 – Faces hidden.

Back in 2005, the Australian public were calling for their blood. But reveal the person, add a story of redemption – and these two men have been given almost legendary status. (And after this cruel conclusion, I wonder if psychological counselling has been arranged for those Federal Police officers who initially tipped off the Indonesians?)

Australians are blaming Indonesian president Joko Widodo, but this whole episode is really a poor reflection on us – Australians. What is wrong with us all?

It is like we have to be herded like sheep into the corral of empathy. Then, once we have been directed to, and shown (over and over) the lambs ready for slaughter, we bleat in unison for justice and humanity.

Why the bleating so late in the day? Why only now?

Everyone has a story (even when a face is hidden). Everyone has parents, probably siblings, maybe children and a reason for their destiny. Most people, even those that do seemingly bad things, have good in them – and have a path towards redemption and brilliance if supported and guided.

There are fortunately always those compassionate protesting voices, but I never heard much bleating from the Australian public about the unaccompanied children that “we” locked up in detention centres for months and years on end (report).

And not much is said about the 1,455,590 Iraqi men, women and children killed and murdered in the US/UK/Australian war and occupation of Iraq.

And the tragedy: The Iraq invasion was a drummed up script. Retired General Wesley Clarke was told in the Pentagon a few weeks after 9-11 that the invasion had already been planned. It had NOTHING to do with the attack on New York, yet Australian politicians went along with the war narrative – DESPITE those Australian marches and protesting voices.

It is shameful.

We should never have gone to war – and Australia should have recalled the ambassador from Washington DC in protest over the invasion of Iraq.


And about drug smugglers…

Chan and Sukumaran have something in common with the CIA. They were also in the smuggling game. The cocaine trafficking in Central America during the Reagan Administration as part of the Contra war in Nicaragua has been the subject of several official investigations since the mid-1980s. And there are claims that they smuggled herion in G.I. corpses from Vietnam into Ft. Bragg.

And let us put some perspective into executions…

Janine Di Giovanni wrote (October 14, 2014), When It Comes to Beheadings, ISIS Has Nothing Over Saudi Arabia. She writes:

“Yet, for all the outrage these executions (referring to ISIS) have engendered the world over, decapitations are routine in Saudi Arabia, America’s closest Arab ally, for crimes including political dissent—and the international press hardly seems to notice. In fact, since January, 59 people have had their heads lopped off in the kingdom, where “punishment by the sword” has been practiced for centuries.” And–

…People will gather to watch you die. According to British author John R. Bradley, public beheadings are the “only form of public entertainment” in Saudi Arabia, aside from football matches.”

saudi02Getting ready for “just” a flogging in Saudi Arabia. Not posting pictures of executions.

The full gruesome report here. 

And it has been going on for a very long time – with woman often being most vulnerable. This a report from 1995, by Robert Fisk:

“…at least 12 women have been put to death after Islamic trials, …and followed unfair hearings which often denied the women a defence lawyer.

…the cruel methods of execution call into question the morality of the West’s military and political support for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states whose supposedly civilised values were defended by 500,000 US, British and other Western troops after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Not a single Western embassy, however, is known to have protested at the beheading of women…”

And closer to home–

China, Australia’s biggest trading partner, executes the highest number of people annually – in 2008, 2009, and 2010, the Dui Hua Foundation estimated that 5,000 people were executed. This fell to 2,400 in 2013 (Wikipedia), though watchdog groups believe that actual execution numbers greatly exceed officially recorded executions.

Every one of these people had grieving families and a destiny cut short.

I guess that as long as humans execute other humans (individually or collectively), the long term survival of us a species – homo sapiens – is in jeopardy of extinction.

The recent Chan-Sukumaran execution might cause needed political ripples against capital punishment across the globe – especially for those that are disadvantaged, or even innocent.

Strangely, the Painter and the Pastor have inadvertently probably played a much greater role in death – than they ever could have in life.


  1. I know I shouldn’t mention the Hadron Collider – we’ve all got enough on our plate, right? But I’m going to mention it anyway. It ties in with Dalia’s (unstated) question: Who has the right to snuff out a human life?
    Well, ever since I heard about Hadron, I have been worried. (It’s a 17-mile tunnel in Switzerland, in which scientists hope to crack some of the mysteries of particle physics.) They admit there is some danger along the lines of blowing up the whole planet by mistake.
    Recall Enrico Fermi taking a chance like that with atomic chain reactions in Chicago? Enrico did not phone me for my permission. Did he phone you? (Actually it was 1939 so I hadn’t been born yet, but I’ll bet he just took the decision unilaterally. How disgusting.)
    No, I don’t agree that the ‘need’ to find out the properties of atoms is all that essential. Let the contenders figure out how to save the rainforest and generally show us their deservingness of a right to risk my life and yours.
    Then maybe we can talk about the Hadron collider.

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