At 12:30am on Wednesday 29 April, two Australians, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, were executed on Nusa Kambangan Island in Central Java.
Sukumaran and Chan were among eight other drug smugglers who were put to death on the same day. The men included four Nigerians — Okwuduli Oyatanze, Martin Anderson, Raheem Agbaje Salami and Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise — along with a Brazilian, Rodrigo Gularte, and an Indonesian, Zainal Abidin. A ninth prisoner, Mary Jane Veloso, was also set to be executed but was granted a temporary reprieve.
According to the Guardian, Brazil’s foreign ministry confirmed that Gularte had been diagnosed with schizophrenia twice.
The men faced a 12-man firing squad and, in their last act of defiance, decided not to wear their blindfolds. The men sang the chorus of “Amazing Grace” before their deaths; this was broken by the crack of gunfire.
It is said that Sukumaran and Chan passed quickly and that all eight men were confirmed dead at 1:02am Indonesian time.
Sukumaran and Chan were arrested in 2005, along with seven other Australians, after attempting to smuggle eight kilograms of heroin from Bali to Australia. The group later became known as the “Bali Nine”.
The pair were labelled as the ringleaders of the gang and found guilty of providing the money, airline tickets and hotels to their drug traffickers.
In 2006, they were sentenced to death by firing squad — the first time the Denpasar District Court has issued the death penalty for drug trafficking.
Protests calling for a halt to the executions were held outside the Presidential Palace by Indonesian activists on 28 April. An overnight candlelit vigil was also held in Sydney, to no avail.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has condemned the executions and has withdrawn his ambassador from Indonesia for consultations.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a press statement that she is “deeply disturbed” by the actions of the Indonesian government and claims that there “will have to be consequences”.
Despite claims that Chan and Sukumaran were fully rehabilitated after serving 10 years in prison, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo was not swayed. Widodo insisted the deaths had to happen in order to combat Indonesia’s illegal drug trafficking crisis.
The families of the two men tearfully pleaded for the lives of their loved ones to be spared, with Michael Chan saying that his goodbye to his brother “was torture … there has to be a moratorium on the death penalty”.
Sukumaran’s brother Chintu said he knew that their deaths would be “a waste … if these nine people die today, it’s still not going to stop anything”.