Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s move to use aid funding as leverage in a bid to save two Australians on death row in Indonesia has earned him a stern rebuke from the country’s foreign affairs ministry.
Indonesian authorities continue to plan for the executions of drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, despite Mr Abbott’s reminder on Wednesday that Australia gave the country $1 billion in aid funding after it was devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami.
Mr Abbott said if the pair was executed, “we will be letting Indonesia know in absolutely unambiguous terms that we feel grievously let down”.
“I would say to the Indonesian people and the government, we in Australia are always there to help you and we hope that you might reciprocate in this way at this time.”
Indonesian foreign affairs ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir delivered a sharp response.
“Threats are not part of diplomatic language … and from what I know, no one responds well to threats,” he said.
The exchange came a day after the transfer of the Bali Nine drug smugglers for their execution was delayed until at least next week.
Indonesia has not announced a new schedule for their move from Kerobokan prison to prepare for their execution, or the date of their deaths.
But planning goes on regardless, with Attorney-General HM Prasetyo on Wednesday afternoon meeting prosecutors from the provinces where prisoners slated for execution are jailed.
His spokesman would not reveal what was discussed other than, “the latest on preparations and important directions”.
In Bali on Wednesday, jail, corrections and police chiefs met to discuss security arrangements for the Australians’ transfer to Nusakambangan, the island reserved for the executions.
In Australia on Wednesday night, vigils for the pair were well-supported.
Almost 2500 people were in Melbourne’s Federation Square where a letter from Sukumaran was read.
“Whatever happens, I know that me and Andrew are good people now, and even though we have been in prison with a death sentence, we have been truly blessed,” he wrote.
Their lawyers are preparing to challenge the process that denied Chan and Sukumaran’s clemency, and for their families, who make daily visits to their jail.
– with AAP