Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo says he won’t buckle under pressure from outsiders to reconsider clemency for drug offenders like Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
The Federal Government is approaching Indonesia daily to re-examine the cases of the Sydney men, who have become model prisoners since the Bali Nine arrests 10 years ago.
But Mr Joko has told an audience of Muslim clerics in central Java that he won’t back down to “pressure, urges from outside”.
“I’m accustomed to being pressured, I consider that usual,” he said.
“Can you imagine, (a prisoner) has been sentenced to death, has been imprisoned, is still controlling drug business from inside the prison. ”If things like this are allowed, when will we finish solving this problem?
“Three months ago I stated, we are at war against drugs. We hope all Muslims will support this.”
The president’s comments were applauded.
The prisoner to whom he was likely referring is Nigerian Silvester Obiekwe, whom authorities consider a priority for execution after he was caught running a drug syndicate from death row.
The families and lawyers for Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran are urging Indonesia to regard their very different circumstances.
Since their execution was confirmed for this month, there has been a flood of testimonials about their work to help prisoners rehabilitate.
Their lawyers will challenge Mr Joko’s blanket denial of clemency for drug offenders in a bid due to be filed with an administrative court late on Wednesday.
But Attorney-General HM Prasetyo says this won’t put his execution plans on hold.
Mr Chan’s brother Michael admits the situation is desperate.
“There’s no right or wrong at the moment – we’re just clutching at straws at the moment,” he told Fairfax radio.
Michael said the family never knew whether their last visit to the prison would be the last, but they were not losing hope.
“It’s very, very bleak, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve just got to carry on the day-to-day fighting for the two boys and we will do that until the very end,” he said.
Indonesia seeks to save citizens’ executions abroad
Meanwhile, Indonesia is stepping up its efforts to save 229 citizens facing execution abroad, mostly for murder or drug trafficking in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.
Embassies have been ordered to look at each individual case and provide the maximum legal and consular help.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said he saw no contradiction.
“Let me make it clear, there’s no country where the laws are negotiable, we respect that,” he said.
“In order to help Indonesians in trouble, we will still be respecting the legal regulations that apply there.”
After visiting Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran in Kerobokan jail on Wednesday, their former school friend Aaron Eisler said he hoped Indonesia could practice mercy at home.
“Just like the Indonesian government pleads for the lives of its citizens overseas, we would like to plead for the lives of our citizens, and my friends, Myu and Andrew,” he said.
Mr Joko argues the death penalty is needed because Indonesia has 18,000 drug-related deaths yearly.
However, academics say those numbers are not reliable, and the death penalty does not work as a deterrent to drug crime.