Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, has warned Indonesia of the potential for diplomatic fallout if Jakarta goes ahead with the execution of two Australian citizens on death row for drug charges.
Australia has been pursuing an eleventh-hour campaign to save the lives of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, two Australian members of the so-called Bali Nine, convicted in 2005 as the ringleaders of a plot to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia.
“We will be finding ways to make our displeasure felt. Millions of Australians are feeling sickened by what might be about to happen in Indonesia,’’ he added.
The case has enormous resonance as a domestic political issue in Australia, and Abbott ratcheted up the rhetoric at the weekend amid a growing campaign to boycott travel to Bali, a destination favoured by Australian tourists.
It was unclear what measures Abbott was considering, but Australia and Indonesia have a long history of diplomatic tension, which has periodically complicated cooperation on regional issues, including people smuggling and intelligence.
Momock Samiarso, Head of Bali’s Provincial Prosecutors’ office, said the two offenders would be moved this week from prison in Bali to a maximum security prison at Nusakambangan Island in central Java, where the execution by firing squad was expected to take place.
Retno Marsudi, Indonesia Foreign Minister, on Monday in Jakarta, defended its right to use capital punishment.
“The death penalty can be given for serious crimes, and in Indonesia, drug trafficking is a serious crime,” he said.
Australia outlawed capital punishment in 1973 and public opinion staunchly opposes the death penalty for any crime.
The last Australian executed by a foreign government was Nguyen Tuong Van, by Singapore in 2005, also on charges of smuggling heroin.
Michael Fullilove, Executive Director of the Lowy Institute, said that as the date for the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran appears to draw closer, Australian public and political opposition was crystallizing.
In Sydney, more than 150,000 people signed a petition for clemency.
A number of Australians have announced the boycott of and cancellation of holiday plans.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Dan Kitwood