Indonesia's War On Terror Vs War On Drugs
8 TO 18 YEARS FOR BALI TERRORISTS
DEATH SENTENCE FOR DRUG COURIERS
By Darryl Mason
The story of 20 year old Australian Scott Rush is an unfolding tragedy. He got busted in Bali, part of a gang hired to smuggle heroin out of the Indonesian province and into Australia. His father knew what he was going to do and dobbed him in to the Australian Federal Police.
But the AFP didn't intervene, like his father had hoped they would. Instead, they gave Indonesian police the information and Scott wound up being busted in Bali and sentenced to life in prison. The Indonesian police managed to lose track of the suppliers of the heroin.
Rush appealed the sentence, against his own gut instinct, and now he is facing the death penalty - a bullet in the head on a Bali beach at dawn - along with five other Australians who also acted as drug couriers.
But there's another sting in the tail to this story.
Yesterday, the same day that the new death sentences were made public, two Indonesians involved in the Bali terror attacks of last year, were also sentenced for their crimes.
From the Jakarta Post :
Judges sentenced two Islamic militants to up to 18 years in prison Thursday for involvement in the 2005 terrorist attacks on Bali...Death for drug couriers.
Mohammad Cholili and Dwi Widiarto were among four men charged in the attacks on the Indonesian resort island, which killed 20 people and wounded nearly 200 others.
Prison, with the chance of parole, for convicted terrorists.
The Indonesian judge who tossed aside the life sentences and handed down death instead said :
Obviously, blowing people up figures lower down the "heavy crimes" chart than being a drug courier.
"Drug problems are a very dangerous crime against the Indonesian community, and not just for Indonesia but also for other countries and communities," Judge Kamil said.
"This is a serious case. The amount (of heroin) is quite large. Heavy crimes must be paid with similar punishment."
For the families of those now facing death by firing squad, the way they found out was a total fiasco.
The father of Scott Rush was not told by lawyers or any government official that his son's appeal against a prison sentence had been commuted to the death sentence. No.
Like the parents and families of the three other young Australians who also just learned they are now facing the death penalty, Scott's father knew nothing had changed until he was informed by the media.
The federal government, including the prime minister, the foreign minister and the justice minister also claimed they knew nothing about the horrific changes to the sentences, even though the decision had been made some three weeks earlier in Jakarta.
It is a mark of acknowledgement of just how Indonesia feels about Australia that the key Australian ministers were not even briefed, off the record, about what has already proved to be a public opinion bombshell in Australia.
Nobody from the Indonesian government contacted their Australian compatriots because they obviously have no respect, or time, for them at all.
The news that drug couriers copped a death sentence, but terrorists got less than twenty years in jail has caused has caused widespread angst, disgust and plenty of dissent in Australia.
Prime Minister Howard has said he has little sympathy for convicted drug smugglers, but has been careful not to stir up anymore trouble in Jakarta than is necessary to try and appease his public, who in the majority are firmly opposed to death sentences.
Australia, and the Howard government, clearly have little influence in Jakarta now.
Particularly since tens of millions (if not hundreds of millions) of Indonesians were outraged to see Howard, and numerous other ministers and opposition politicians, on television parroting the Bush Co. mantra that : "Israel has the right to defend itself" last month, while Israel reduced Southern Lebanon to rubble and massacred hundreds of Lebanese Muslims.
Australians are mostly unaware of just how often clips of their politicians defending Israel's actions were shown on Indonesian television, followed by graphic footage of dead Lebanese women, children and the elderly.
In the space of one week in Bali, I saw such a sequence of images on the news at least a dozen times, in the course of less than 20 newsbreaks. The destruction of Lebanon by Israel, with the backing of the US and Australia, was the biggest story across Indonesia for weeks.
For the prime minister to now kick up a fuss about convicted drug smugglers being put to death in Indonesia is clearly going to increase tensions between the two countries.
It won't help, either, that the government backs the US in slagging and lie-mongering about Iran.
Indonesia views Iran as a closer friend, and a far more important strategic ally and trading partner than Australia.
The Indonesian president can use clemency provision to free the Australian drug couriers, or clear them of the death sentence. It's not going to happen, even though it would be a huge favour to Howard.
Howard will say little that may offend the Indonesians, even though he insists he will push pleas for clemency, knowing it won't matter an iota.
This is why Howard has now started his spin campaign about Australians living on "false optimism" that the death sentences will be wiped.
He wants, and needs, to get Australians used to idea that all too soon Indonesian police volunteers will execute six young Australians.
Howard can hope that the brutal execution of these six young Australians will not take place while he is still prime minister of the country. Death sentences in Indonesia can take years to be carried out.
But widely respected QC Lex Lasry believes the executions may come even sooner than most people expect, including Howard.
"I'm not confident that there's two years to go, I think it might well be less time than that and I think it's therefore important that we do the things we have to do reasonably quickly.Scott Rush is ready to beg for his life, awestruck at the extremely short future he now faces :
"If there is anything people can do to prevent this, please make it happen because I need a second chance at life...they won't give us a second chance …"This is going to get very, very ugly.
Scott Rush : "Don't Bury Us Before We're Dead"
A Mass Execution Of Australians?
Final Throw Of The Dice For Bali Nine