This file photo taken on Nov. 28, 2012,
shows Lindsay June Sandiford, right, of Britain reacting inside a holding cell
after her trial at a court in Denpasar, Bali.
A British grandmother on death row in
Indonesia for smuggling drugs has condemned the “senseless, brutal” execution
of two Australians, and reportedly fears she could be next in line for the
drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed by firing squad
on Wednesday, along with five other foreigners and one Indonesian, despite a
storm of international criticism and pleas from relatives.
Lindsay Sandiford, who was in the same jail as the Australians on the resort
island of Bali after being sentenced to death in 2013, said the pair were
“reformed men — good men who transformed the lives of people around them”.
senseless, brutal deaths leave the world a poorer place,” she said in a
statement given to AFP on Thursday via her lawyer Craig Tuck.
quoted the lawyer as saying that Sandiford fears she could be next in line to
be executed, as Indonesian President Joko Widodo mounts a campaign against what
he says is a national emergency caused by rising drugs use.
— who was caught trying to smuggle a huge stash of cocaine into Bali — referred
to Chan as “my dear friend”.
counselled and helped me through exceptionally difficult times after I was
sentenced to death in 2013.”
added the Australians, ringleaders of the so-called “Bali Nine” drug-smuggling
gang, used their time in Bali’s Kerobokan jail “to make life better for
everyone around them”.
introduced the concept of rehabilitation to a prison that never had it before.
They organized painting classes, cookery classes and computer classes, and gave
practical help to make sure the poorest prisoners had food, clothing and
ensured that sick inmates had access to health care and hospital services which
were not covered by the prison budget, she said.
claims she was coerced into trafficking, and her family recently launched a
fundraising drive to raise the money needed to lodge an appeal at the
Indonesian Supreme Court, after the British government refused to fund her
Zealand lawyer Tuck, who is leading an international pro bono legal
team representing Sandiford, says the money is needed to retain Indonesian
lawyers who can fight her case.
challenge fails, Sandiford still has the opportunity to appeal for clemency
convicts executed Wednesday recently had their mercy pleas rejected by the
president, and Jakarta has repeatedly insisted his decision is final.
When Andrew Hammel called European
politicians and scholars who contributed to the abolition of the death penalty
in Europe “civilized rebels”, it was not without consideration. The elites in
the UK, Germany and France, among other nations, decided to completely abolish
capital punishment despite the huge support among the public for retaining the
death penalty. Thousands of kilometers away, in 1993, according to scholar
David T. Johnson, Hong Kong joined the bandwagon despite the fact that two
thirds of the public supported the harshest punishment. These countries are
often referred to as abolitionists, whereas those that still impose the death penalty
are called retentionists.
Indonesia, along with 12 other Asian countries such as
China, Singapore and Malaysia, impose the death penalty for extraordinary
crimes, including drug offenses. After a five-year moratorium, Indonesia
reinstated capital punishment in 2013. As a result, six drug offenders, five of
whom were foreign nationals, were executed by a firing squad last January.
Another batch of executions was carried out Tuesday for 8 of the 10 death row
convicts, including the Australian Bali Nine drug chiefs duo, Andrew Chan and
Amid the strained relationship with Australia Indonesian
government stands firmly on its argument that executing drug traffickers has a
deterrent effect. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has even reiterated that the
country is in a war on drugs, from which 50 people die every day. Despite the
tough debate, one question remains: does the death penalty deter drug
Jeffrey Fagan of Columbia Law School analyzed whether
capital punishment had a deterrent effect by comparing the experiences in
Singapore and Indonesia.
Notwithstanding Singapore’s much smaller population,
the city-state executed almost 15 times as many convicts as Indonesia did from
1999-2005. Fagan argued that if capital punishment had a deterrent effect,
there would be less drug trafficking and higher drug prices in Singapore.
However, the prices for cocaine and heroin during 2003-2006 were significantly
higher in Indonesia than in Singapore, and drugs were generally more prevalent
in Singapore at the time.
In Malaysia, regardless of the fact that more than 200
people had been executed since 1975, the International Narcotics Control
Board’s report in 2004 suggested that the availability of heroin in Malaysia had
increased, due to the rising demand for the drug.
Therefore, as the two studies have shown, executing
people is not the answer to deterring drug crimes. Although there is no
reliable and accurate survey showing the stance of the Indonesian public in opposing
or favoring the death penalty for the Bali Nine duo, political elites seem to
be united in supporting retention of the death penalty. Nevertheless, as many
countries (or states) have experienced, public opinion should not be the main
hurdle to abolishing capital punishment. Then governor of New Jersey, Jon
Corzine, went against public opinion when he signed a milestone bill on Dec.
18, 2007, to end the death penalty in his state, leaving an important legacy
for the American capital punishment landscape.
Corzine’s measure to put life imprisonment without
parole in place of capital punishment was made in spite the fact that the
decision was opposed by a majority of people by a margin of 53 percent to 39
percent, according to a poll by Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Despite the low public support, Corzine successfully led his state into the
ranks of the abolitionists, whereas in general the US remains a retentionist
nation.In his article Asia’s Declining Death Penalty, David T. Johnson argues that
unlike Europe and Africa, Asia’s most important factor in changing the death
penalty law is still national (domestic) prerogatives, not regional or
international. Thus, pressing Indonesia to abolish its death penalty, let alone
using threats, will likely be of no avail. Rather, intensive dialogue and
discussions with Indonesian elites should be one of the solutions to sharing
the understanding of the “capital punishment has no deterrence” argument.
Abolishing the death penalty may not be politically
popular. Yet, the risk must be taken in order to respect the most basic human
right — the right to life. The Indonesian President and political elites have
to be brave enough to become “civilized rebels” in order to respect the
sanctity of such a right.
Even as its economy slows, China’s stocks have been posting some
Chinese stocks are soaring even while its property market and economy
24, the Shanghai Stock Exchange composite index closed at 4,393 points, up
nearly 36 percent for 2015 but a staggering 123 percent over the past year. Its
domestic counterpart, the Shenzhen Stock Exchange’s composite index, finished
at 2,256, up nearly 60 percent this year but a 120 percent increase over the
outperformance of China’s major bourses is readily seen in comparison with
other major Asian exchanges. Other the past year, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index has
risen a relatively modest 41 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index is up 31
percent and both Singapore and South Korea’s benchmark indices have gained just
stock surge has been partly facilitated by the central government, which has
cut trading fees and had state-run media publish articles encouraging stock
summer last year we started seeing in the Chinese media almost educational
pieces encouraging mainland investors to get back into the sharemarket,”
Catherine Yeung, a Hong-Kong based investment director at Fidelity Worldwide
Investment, told the Sydney
also recently introduced a measure allowing investors to operate up to 20
separate accounts, compared to just one previously. Following the move, a
record 3.3 million equities trading accounts were opened in just one week, with
nearly 200 million mainland trading accounts currently used by an estimated 100
larger scale, a major factor has been the introduction in October 2014 of the
Hong Kong-Shanghai Connect scheme, which has allowed foreign investors to trade
Shanghai-listed A-class stocks via the Hong Kong bourse. The move has helped
Hong Kong’s market triple daily turnover, from around HK$87 billion to HK$231
government is indeed encouraging stock investment,” Zeng Xianzhao, an analyst
at Everbright Securities, told Bloomberg
News. “They need the market to be vibrant to encourage foreign funds into
economic growth recently falling to its slowest pace
since 2009 amid an “acute oversupply of property,” China’s central
bank has been injecting more monetary stimulus to prop up the economy. On April
19, the central bank’s reserve requirement ratio was cut by 100 basis points,
injecting around 1.2 trillion yuan into the market to boost lending.
have pointed to the low educational level of new investors as an example of the
fervor. According to Bloomberg, the number of new investors with a high
school degree or less now accounts for more than half, compared to 26 percent
of existing investors.
know much about the stockmarket, but my friends have made a fortune recently
and they can give me some advice so I must seize the chance,” a Chinese
investor called “Mrs Wu” told the Australian.
been worried about some of the risks, but my friends have told me that the bull
market is going to stay in place for a few more months, so hopefully I can make
some money. One of the hot topics between my friends lately has been whether
they should sell their houses to buy stock or should we be using money that we
make in the market to buy houses.”
China’s stockmarket now in bubble territory? In the U.S. options market, demand
has recently surged for contracts that protect investors against losses, as
well as those that profit from more gains, according to Bloomberg News.
still a lot of conflict in the investment community with regard to the
legitimacy of the rally,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist in
Philadelphia at Janney Capital Management LLC. “Is it purely speculation and
therefore vulnerable to get smashed, is there a disconnect between the rally in
the equity market and what appears to be soft growth in China?”
indication that authorities are becoming worried, the China Securities
Regulatory Commission (CSRC) has launched a campaign targeting stockmarket
manipulation and insider trading, with CSRC chairman Xiao Gang recently warning
of stockmarket risks. Regulators have also taken action to slow margin lending,
which has surged to account for around 15 percent of Shanghai’s daily turnover.
the boom, stocks on the Shanghai bourse are currently trading at 18 times
estimated earnings for 2015 – around the same level as the U.S. S&P 500 index,
but below the 28 times of the U.S. Russell 2000 index.
absolute basis, the valuations of these markets are not expensive, nor are they
if you benchmark their P/Es [price/earnings ratios] against the U.S., Japan,
Australia, or even Europe,” Joseph Lai, who manages Platinum Investment
Management’s Asia Fund, told the Sydney
recent boom follows the markets’ lackluster performance from 2011 to 2014, when
they “essentially stagnated” as investors chased property instead.
economic reforms can continue to progress towards a more equitable and
ecologically sound outcome, and the country can allocate capital better, then I
think the market today is very cheap,” Lai added.
to AMP Capital’s Patrick Ho, further gains will be spurred by Shanghai’s
potential inclusion in the MSCI Emerging Markets index, which would spark
greater buying by institutional investors such as pension funds.
progress with Stock Connect is made quickly enough, the Shanghai Composite
could potentially be included for the first time as early as this year, which
would prompt a massive influx of passive funds,” Ho was quoted as saying in
the Australian Financial Review.
analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch recently cut their rating on the
China bourse from “overweight” to “neutral,” urging investors to take profits.
real interest rates remain too high, the currency is too expensive, fiscal
policy is tight, and debt deflation is taking hold,” the analysts said.
now concerned that the scale of monetary/fiscal easing required in China is so
large, and so radically different from where policymakers’ assessments are,
that an overweight [rating] is no longer tenable.”
Wall Street saying warns: “When even the shoeshine boy [or taxi driver] is
giving stock tips, it’s time to sell.” According to Beijing media, “even the
cleaning lady” has now opened an account to trade shares.
investors do not have far to look when seeing the consequences of an
overinflated stockmarket. On December 29, 1989, Japan’s Nikkei reached its
all-time high of 38,916, with even “cautious predictions” from analysts
expecting it to end 1990 above 45,000. Having expanded sixfold during the
1980s, the Nikkei tumbled all the way back down to 7,054 in 2009, only recently
regaining a level nearly half its 1989 peak.
though, both Beijing and China’s millions of new stock investors will be hoping
that their boom proves far longer lasting. The Diplomat
A brief look at what might lie ahead for Washington and Manila.
As I reported previously,
the United States and the Philippines are now carrying out this year’s
iteration of the Balikatan exercises, which have been expanded significantly.
But with those exercises soon coming to a close on April 30, there have been
some discussions about what we might expect from U.S.-Philippine military
relations in the near future.
evolving issue is what the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed
last year between the two countries might mean specifically in terms of the
U.S. access to Philippine bases. In mid-April, Philippine Foreign Secretary
Albert del Rosario had already said that the
Philippines welcomed the U.S. plan to deploy air and naval assets to the
country as part of the next phase of Washington’s rebalance to the region.
While del Rosario said he had not discussed specifics with his U.S.
counterparts, he noted that handling such equipment “will require U.S.
presence.” Department of National Defense (DND) spokesman Peter Galvez also added that Manila had
planned and looked at where some of these new capabilities “may be
appropriately deployed,” including Subic and Clark which the United States had
access to up till 1991.
24, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Gregorio
Catapang offered a bit more clarity on this question when he disclosed to ABS-CBN
News that US troops would have access to at least eight Philippine military
bases under EDCA. These are: Fort Magsaysay in Neuva Ecija; Crow Valley in
Tarlac; Basa Air Base in Pampanga; Naval Station San Miguel in Zambales;
Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan; Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu; and Naval
Base Rafael Ramos in Cebu. Two of those bases face the South China Sea.
of bases is not new – it was agreed upon during a meeting between Catapang and
Admiral Samuel Locklear, the chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, last October.
Catapang was also careful to emphasize that the list would only be formalized
once the Philippine Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of EDCA, which
is still yet to occur. And while media reports have stressed that some of these
bases face the South China Sea (which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea),
Catapang himself noted that the Philippines recognizes that this does not solve
its problems in disputed areas and Manila cannot expect Washington to defend
its ally if an armed conflict erupts.
will not solve our problem. We understand the treaty, it does not include the
West Philippine Sea. So we want to develop our own capabilities,” he said.
vein, the Philippines is also looking to boost its own capabilities in this
respect in the coming months with the help of several countries including the
United States. On 27 April, Galvez, the DND spokesman, reportedly told IHS
Jane’s that the Philippines is preparing to submit a request to the U.S.
government to procure additional military equipment – especially those that
could boost the country’s offshore military capabilities in the face of rising
Chinese assertiveness – in line with official meetings between the two sides.
be requesting to acquire equipment that can improve our military capabilities,
particularly in the maritime domain,” Galvez said. “We have a list
of priorities but we will not be specific with our requirements until we know
what is available from the U.S.”
Jane’s notes, stated requirements by the Armed Forces of the Philippines
(AFP) include additional transport aircraft, long-range patrol aircraft,
close-air support aircraft, anti-submarine warfare helicopters, light frigates,
amphibious assault vehicles, and communications and surveillance systems. By Prashanth Parameswaran for The Diplomat
The new U.S.-Japan defense
guidelines open the door to a more aggressive take on regional security.
The United States and Japan on Monday took one significant
step further towards closer security cooperation in the increasingly contested
Asia-Pacific, issuing new defense guidelines that lay the foundations for a
more expansive approach to regional threats.
The 24-page document published
by the Pentagon revised previous defense guidelines the two governments adopted
in 1997, adding new criteria that allow for coordinated military actions.
announcement, which came while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is on a state
visit to the U.S., aimed to strengthen Tokyo’s economic and military ties with
Washington. It has also quickly angered China, which has been aggressive in
modernizing its military and taking up territorial disputes in the past few years.
Responding in Beijing Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said
the U.S. and Japan are responsible for ensuring their alliance does not harm
the interests of a third country, like China, or regional peace and stability.
guidelines appeared to take a more liberal interpretation of when the two
governments should activate a series of readiness measures to deter a potential
attack. Previously, the measures were to be enforced only when an attack
against Japan is “imminent.” In the latest guidelines, they will be applied as
long as an attack is “anticipated.”
case of an actual attack, the guidelines clarified scenarios for the U.S. and
Japanese militaries to jointly respond to ground, air, maritime, ballistic
missile and cross-domain offensives.
not specified, the guidelines provided a basis for many cases where U.S. and
Japan could confront China – the regional power most capable of carrying out
attacks – over disputed islands in the East China Sea.
need arises, the Self-Defense Forces will conduct operations to retake an
island,” the guidelines said. Backed by forward-deployed U.S forces, they can
take necessary actions including “operations to prevent and repel airborne and
seaborne invasions, amphibious operations, and rapid deployment.”
wording will certainly displease China, since it applies directly to the
Senkaku/Diaoyu island dispute between Tokyo and Beijing.
guidelines would allow the U.S. to back Japan’s actions to defend its airspace,
some of which overlaps a newly established air defense identification zone
that China created in 2013.
highly targeted scenarios are inevitably seen as a means to counter China’s
heavy investment in developing its anti-access/area denial strategy
– an investment that has entailed sophisticated ballistic missiles, anti-ship
submarines, and new fighter jets – even though both U.S. and Japan would deny
included in the new guidelines was cooperation on cyber security. Beijing’s
rapid advances in cyber technology
have prompted regular accusations from the U.S. and its allies of intrusions
guidelines would also permit Japan to respond to scenarios where attacks
occurred against a third country, potentially enabling it to take part in South
China Sea issues, where other U.S. allies are confronting Beijing over
territorial issues. This came as Abe’s administration approved a
resolution last July that opened the door for Japan to send troops overseas and
abandon its postwar pacifist policy.
guidelines came after U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter recently said
that America’s “newest” and “best” things are being deployed to the
region, in a seemingly desperate move to assure allies of commitments to
and Japan insisted the guidelines were merely serving defense purposes that fit
an ever-challenging environment rather than provoke any party. “We don’t think
that a strong U.S.-Japan alliance should be seen as a
provocation,” Obama told a joint White
House press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, when asked how
Beijing should view their relationship. “As I’ve said before, we welcome
China’s peaceful rise.”
Foreign Ministry noted that the U.S. and Japan did notify Beijing before
publishing the guidelines. Now that they have been published, the two allies
could soon expect pushback from Chinese military and foreign
policy hawks who have long suspected any U.S. alliance with its Asian
allies of being designed to contain China’s rise. Of course, that pushback will
be contained by the growing areas of U.S.-China cooperation, recently extended
to China’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign.
Wang is a researcher for CNN’s editorial oversight team in Atlanta.
Iran’s navy has seized a Marshall Islands-flagged vessel, the MV Maersk
A 65,000 ton, Danish-owned, Singapore-chartered, container ship, en
route to the United Arab Emirates from Saudi Arabia, manned mostly by Eastern
European and Asian sailors, is intercepted, boarded, and confiscated by the
Iranian navy, prompting a U.S. destroyer to investigate.*
That wasn’t an anecdote from Tom Friedman’s next book on
globalization–it’s a rough description of what took place on Tuesday, April 28,
in the strategically important sea lanes of the Strait of Hormuz.
Allow me to get into the details:
shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz have long been highlighted as a
potential flashpoint amid the simmering geopolitical tensions between the
United States and Iran. Its waters are of particular geostrategic significance
given that over a third of the world’s petroleum traded by sea passes through
the region. Iran has repeatedly emphasized its dominance over the waters,
threatening to blockade the strait in a time of crisis. Today, we saw an acute
manifestation of Iran’s audacity when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps
Navy (IRGCN) seized and escorted the Marshall Islands-flagged MV Maersk
Tigris, a shipping vessel belonging to Denmark’s A.P. Moller–Maersk
Group and chartered by Singapore-based Rickmers Shipmanagement, toward the
Iranian port at Bandar Abbas. The incident sparked a response by U.S. Naval
Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), which ordered the USS Farragut,
an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer that was 60 miles from the point
of the Tigris’ interception, to respond to the vessel’s distress signal. The
incident took place as Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif led a
delegation to New York City for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference at
the United Nations, meeting with Western diplomats on the sidelines to discuss
the ongoing P5+1 talks over his country’s nuclear program.
depicting the MV Maersk Tigris’ original path toward the UAE and diversion
after being intercepted by the IRGCN. (Source: marinetraffic.com)
UAE-based Al Arabiya was
among the first sources to break the news in English. It reported that Iran had
fired warning shots (true) and seized a U.S.-flagged vessel (false).
Nevertheless, the initial reports sparked considerable online panic at the
prospect that the United States and Iran could be headed for a major
confrontation. The report also noted that the crew of the ship numbered 34 and
were American. Needless to say, U.S. citizens being held against their will by
Iran hits a raw nerve for the United States given certain historical events. We’ve since learned, thanks to Reuters, that the
Tigris’ has a crew of 24, most of whom hail “from Eastern Europe and
Asia.” In the process of the seizure, the IRGCN fired across the bow of
the ship. Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren told CNN that “the
master was contacted and directed to proceed further into Iranian territorial
waters. He declined and one of the IRGCN craft fired shots across the bridge of
the Maersk Tigris.”
reasons for seizing the ship were at first unclear. Speculation abounded that
the incident was a show of force intended to strike back at the United States
after it sent the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) to intercept an Iranian arms
shipment to Yemen’s Houthis last week. Additionally, others
suggested that the seizure could have been a move by hardliners opposing Iran’s
negotiations with the West over its nuclear program – an attempt to
spark a broader crisis to derail those talks. Reza Marashi, research
director of the National Iranian American Council, told The Hill that
the IRGCN’s boldness could have actually been in retaliation against Saudi
Arabia. Tensions between the two geopolitical rivals has been high recently
given Saudi Arabia’s campaign against the Yemen’s Houthi rebels. Marashi notes
that the ship’s point-of-departure being Saudi Arabia supported this
enough, however, Iran’s Fars News Agency reported that
the reason for the seizure was far more mundane: the Iran Ports Authority had
procured a court order to seize the ship. ”The ship was seized after a
relevant court order was issued for its confiscation,” stated an “informed”
source that spoke to Fars. The agency added that that the ship was
reportedly “seized for trespassing on Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian
Gulf,” though a quick Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) assessment dispelled
that fairly quickly. (The ship was bound for the United Arab Emirates port of
Jebel Ali, from Saudi Arabia, according to Marine Traffic’s open source
tracker.) The ship’s status, as of this writing, is noted as “at
anchor” at Bandar Abbas.
In the wake
of the Tigris incident, CNN learned that a
U.S.-flagged ship had been intercepted by the IRGCN
– on Friday, April 24, four whole days before the Tigris
incident. Reportedly, the U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet issued a notice to commercial
ships to exercise caution in the Persian Gulf and the Hormuz Strait following
Marshall Islands isn’t normally a country whose name you’ll read at the center
of a major international incident, but the fact that the Tigris was flagged
with the country’s flag complicated the situation. After gaining independence
from the United States in 1986, the Marshall Islands enjoys pseudo-protectorate
status under the United States’ security umbrella. As per the Compact of Free Association governing
the relationship between the United States and the Marshall Islands, the United
States “has full authority and responsibility for security and defense matters in
or relating to the Republic of the Marshall Islands.” The U.S. Defense
Department’s lawyers have determined, however, that for
the purposes of the Tigris‘ capture by the IRGCN, the U.S. has no
obligation to respond or come to the defense of the Marshall Islands-flagged
vessel. (Eli Lake and Josh Rogin have more on the Marshall Islands angle over at Bloomberg View.)
government’s reaction has to the incident has been somewhat underwhelming.
State Department spokesperson Jeff Rathke noted, somewhat obviously,
that ”it’s a key concern of the United States to ensure that sea lanes in
the region remain open and safe.” In a slightly more lively take, the U.S.
Senate’s national security dynamic duo, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, chimed
in as expected, issuing a statement in
which they noted that the Tigris incident was “a serious and deliberate
provocation against the United States and the international community.” They
added, “This act is another display of Iran’s contempt for the rules-based
international order and a threat to the freedom of navigation in one of the
world’s most vital sea lanes.”
Tigris‘ fate remains in flux, but it is already apparent that this episode
will be cited by U.S. critics of the Iran nuclear talks. Iran’s brazen
aggression in international waters is indeed worrying and a threat to
principles that the United States holds dear, including the freedom of
navigation. The administration will do its best to contain the fallout of this
incident and avoid escalation with Iran lest it affect the fragile diplomatic
rapprochement that seems to be budding between the two decades-long enemies.
The coming days will offer an opportunity to better assess the significance of
this anomalous but important event.
I'm going to cop a blast for this, but I struggle to find much sympathy
for the Bali Nine ringleaders.
First up, I'm opposed to
the death penalty, but there are convincing arguments in extreme cases - for
terrorists and child abusers, both who inflict horrible, unforgivable crimes
Do drug dealers fit into this category? It's borderline for me.
Drugs are a scourge on our society. But both parties make the choice to
buy and sell drugs. Please don't tell me that drug abusers don't have a choice.
Unless they have a gun placed at their head when they first use a drug, they
had a choice.
Drug abuse is not a victimless crime. The victims are the families.
Those victims are a direct result of the decisions of the thrill-seeking junkie
- and the profiteering dealer.
Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan knew exactly what they were doing -
trading in pain, misery and death for profit.
They knew the cost, they knew the penalty if caught. The signs are
everywhere when you enter Bali.
Sukumaran and Chan weren't naive novices, they were hardened career
drug traffickers, seeking rich reward for high risk. They threw the dice, over
and over, until one day the odds went against them.
They made choices, knowing the consequences.
The argument that they've rehabilitated in gaol, is a worthy one that
should have some bearing on their fate, but who wouldn't change, while locked
up, with the grim reaper knocking at the door?
Chances are if they hadn't been caught they would have continued to ply
their nasty trade in misery and death.
Indonesia carries the death penalty for drug trafficking. That was
known to the Bali Nine. It may not be our penalty in Australia, but they were
in Bali when caught (yes, I know the AFP role).
So the outcome isn't surprising, their fate sealed.
A fate of their own making. The Pickering Post, Paul Zanetti
from the police's Mobile Brigade (Brimob) are assigned to an execution, but
only 12 are tasked with shooting while the two others are placed on standby.
Of the 12
executioners, only one is equipped with a live bullet while the others have
None of the 12
executioners know who receives the live bullet.
The reason for
the use of only one live bullet is to avoid the inmate's chest being heavily
damaged and causing more pain, according to the police.
in their early 20s are usually selected to carry out the task as they are
considered to be physically and mentally fitter than their seniors.
selected for the firing squad are given extra training to sharpen their
shooting skills. Rendi A. Witular
Execution procedures according to
Law No. 2/1964
1. Death-row convicts are to be
moved to a prison or an isolation cell of a prosecutor's choosing where he or
she will be informed of their execution three days beforehand. At this time, the
prosecutor should accept any messages or thoughts the convict would like to
2. The execution must not be made
public and should be done as simple as possible unless the president orders
otherwise. The convict's lawyer can attend the execution on request.
3. The provincial police will
form a firing squad made up of 12 enlisted officers (Tamtama) and one
non-commissioned officer (Bintara) who will be led by a high-ranking officer.
The prosecutor will have full authority over the firing squad until the
executions is complete.
4. The convict, dressed simply,
will be escorted by the police to the designated location of the execution. The
convict may also request religious counsel to accompany him or her.
5. Once at the destination, an
officer will blindfold the convict unless he or she requests otherwise. The
convict may choose to stand, sit or kneel. The convict may also have their
hands and feet tied if the prosecutor deems it necessary.
6. Once the convict is deemed
ready, the firing squad will be called upon with their firearms where they will
position themselves no less than 5 meters and no more than 10 meters from the
7. The prosecutor will then order
the execution to start, to which the firing squad's commander will lift up his
sword to signal the squad to focus their firearms on the convict's heart and
then put down the sword to order the shooting to start.
8. If the convict still shows
signs of life, the police commander will order the non-commissioned officer to
take the final shot at the convict's head, near the ear. A doctor will then
confirm whether the convict has died.
9. The convict's family or close
friends are responsible for the convict's burial unless the prosecutor says
otherwise. If the convict cannot be buried by their family or friends then the
government will organize a burial based on the convict's religious beliefs.
10. The prosecutor must write up
and sign a report on the execution that will be inserted in the official court
How to Turn a Nightmare into a Fairy Tale. 40 Years Later,
Will the End Games in Iraq and Afghanistan Follow the Vietnam Playbook?
If our wars in the Greater Middle East ever end, it’s a pretty safe bet
that they will end badly -- and it won't be the first time. The “fall of
Saigon” in 1975 was the quintessential bitter end to a war. Oddly enough,
however, we’ve since found ways to reimagine that denouement which miraculously
transformed a failed and brutal war of American aggression into a tragic
humanitarian rescue mission. Our most popular Vietnam end-stories bury the
long, ghastly history that preceded the “fall,” while managing to absolve us of
our primary responsibility for creating the disaster. Think of them as
silver-lining tributes to good intentions and last-ditch heroism that may come
in handy in the years ahead.
The trick, it turned out, was to separate the
final act from the rest of the play. To be sure, the ending in Vietnam was not
a happy one, at least not for many Americans and their South Vietnamese allies.
This week we mark the 40th anniversary of those final days of the war. We
will once again surely see the searing images of
terrified refugees, desperate evacuations, and final defeat. But even that grim
tale offers a lesson to those who will someday memorialize our present round of
disastrous wars: toss out the historical background and you can recast any U.S.
mission as a flawed but honorable, if not noble, effort by good-guy rescuers to
save innocents from the rampaging forces of aggression. In the Vietnamese case,
of course, the rescue was so incomplete and the defeat so total that many
Americans concluded their country had “abandoned” its cause and “betrayed” its
allies. By focusing on the gloomy conclusion, however, you could at least stop
dwelling on the far more incriminating tale of the war’s origins and expansion,
and the ruthless way the U.S. waged it.
Here’s another way to feel better about America’s role in starting and
fighting bad wars: make sure U.S. troops leave the stage for a decent interval
before the final debacle. That way, in the last act, they can swoop back in
with a new and less objectionable mission. Instead of once again waging brutal
counterinsurgencies on behalf of despised governments, American troops can
concentrate on a humanitarian effort most war-weary citizens and soldiers would
welcome: evacuation and escape.
Phony Endings and
An American president announces an
honorable end to our longest war. The last U.S. troops are headed for home.
Media executives shut down their war zone bureaus. The faraway country where
the war took place, once a synonym for slaughter, disappears from TV screens
and public consciousness. Attention shifts to home-front scandals and sensations.
So it was in the United States in 1973 and 1974, years when most Americans
mistakenly believed that the Vietnam War was over.
In many ways, eerily enough, this could be a story from our
own time. After all, a few years ago, we had reason to hope that our seemingly
endless wars -- this time in distant Iraq and Afghanistan -- were finally over
or soon would be. In December 2011, in front of U.S. troops at Fort Bragg,
North Carolina, President Obama proclaimed an end to
the American war in Iraq. “We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and
self-reliant Iraq,” he said proudly. “This is an extraordinary achievement.” In
a similar fashion, last December the president announced that in
Afghanistan “the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible
If only. Instead, warfare, strife, and suffering of every kind continue in
both countries, while spreading across ever more of the Greater Middle East.
American troops are still dying in
Afghanistan and in Iraq the U.S. military is back, once again bombing and
advising, this time against the Islamic
State (or Daesh), an extremist spin-off from its predecessor al-Qaeda in Iraq,
an organization that only came to life well after (and in reaction to) the U.S.
invasion and occupation of that country. It now seems likely that the nightmare
of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, which began decades ago, will simply drag on
with no end in sight.
The Vietnam War, long as it was, did finally come to a decisive conclusion.
When Vietnam screamed back into the
headlines in early 1975, 14 North Vietnamese divisions were racing toward
Saigon, virtually unopposed. Tens of thousands of South Vietnamese troops (shades of the Iraqi army in 2014) were stripping off their military uniforms, abandoning their
American equipment, and fleeing. With the massive U.S. military presence gone,
what had once been a brutal stalemate was now a rout, stunning evidence that
“nation-building” by the U.S. military in South Vietnam had utterly failed (as
it would in the twenty-first century in Iraq and Afghanistan).
On April 30, 1975, a Communist tank crashed through the
gates of Independence Palace in the southern capital of Saigon, a dramatic and
triumphant conclusion to a 30-year-long Vietnamese struggle to achieve national
independence and reunification. The blood-soaked American effort to construct a
permanent non-Communist nation called South Vietnam ended in humiliating
It’s hard now to imagine such a climactic conclusion in Iraq and
Afghanistan. Unlike Vietnam, where the Communists successfully tapped a deep
vein of nationalist and revolutionary fervor throughout the country, in neither
Iraq nor Afghanistan has any faction, party, or government had such success or
the kind of appeal that might lead it to gain full and uncontested control of
the country. Yet in Iraq, there have at least been a series of mass evacuations and displacements
reminiscent of the final days in Vietnam. In fact, the region, including Syria, is now
engulfed in a refugee crisis of staggering proportions with millions seeking
sanctuary across national boundaries and millions more homeless and displaced
Last August, U.S. forces returned to Iraq (as in Vietnam four decades
earlier) on the basis of a “humanitarian” mission. Some 40,000 Iraqis of the
Yazidi sect, threatened with slaughter, had been stranded on Mount
Sinjar in northern Iraq surrounded by Islamic State militants. While most of
the Yazidi were, in fact, successfully evacuated by Kurdish fighters via ground
trails, small groups were flown out on helicopters by the Iraqi military with
U.S. help. When one of those choppers went down wounding many of its passengers
but killing only the pilot, General Majid Ahmed Saadi, New York Times
reporter Alissa Rubin, injured in the crash, praised his
heroism. Before his death, he had told her that the evacuation missions
were “the most important thing he had done in his life, the most significant
thing he had done in his 35 years of flying.”
In this way, a tortured history inconceivable without the American invasion
of 2003 and almost a decade of excesses, including the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib, as well
as counterinsurgency warfare, finally produced a heroic tale of American
humanitarian intervention to rescue victims of murderous extremists. The model
for that kind of story had been well established in 1975.
Stripping the Fall of
Saigon of Historical Context
Defeat in Vietnam might have been the occasion for a full-scale reckoning
on the entire horrific war, but we preferred stories that sought to salvage
some faith in American virtue amid the wreckage. For the most riveting recent
example, we need look no further than Rory Kennedy’s 2014 Academy
Award-nominated documentary Last Days in Vietnam. The film focuses on
a handful of Americans and a few Vietnamese who, in defiance of orders, helped
expedite and expand a belated and inadequate evacuation of South Vietnamese who
had hitched their lives to the American cause.
The film’s cast of humanitarian heroes felt obligated to carry out their ad
hoc rescue missions because the U.S. ambassador in Saigon, Graham Martin,
refused to believe that defeat was inevitable. Whenever aides begged him to
initiate an evacuation, he responded with comments like, “It’s not so bleak. I
won’t have this negative talk.” Only when North Vietnamese tanks reached the
outskirts of Saigon did he order the grandiloquently titled Operation Frequent
Wind -- the helicopter evacuation of the city -- to begin.
By that time, Army Captain Stuart Herrington and others like him had
already led secret “black ops” missions to help South Vietnamese army officers
and their families get aboard outgoing aircraft and ships. Prior to the
official evacuation, the U.S. government explicitly forbade the evacuation of
South Vietnamese military personnel who were under orders to remain in the
country and continue fighting. But, as Herrington puts it in the film, “sometimes
there’s an issue not of legal and illegal, but right and wrong.” Although the
war itself failed to provide U.S. troops with a compelling moral cause, Last
Days in Vietnam produces one. The film’s heroic rescuers are willing to
risk their careers for the just cause of evacuating their allies.
The drama and danger are amped up by the film’s insistence that all
Vietnamese linked to the Americans were in mortal peril. Several of the
witnesses invoke the specter of a Communist “bloodbath,” a staple of pro-war
propaganda since the 1960s. (President Richard Nixon, for instance, once warned that the
Communists would massacre civilians “by the millions” if the U.S. pulled out.)
Herrington refers to the South Vietnamese officers he helped evacuate as “dead
men walking.” Another of the American rescuers, Paul Jacobs, used his Navy ship
without authorization to escort dozens of South Vietnamese vessels, crammed
with some 30,000 people, to the Philippines. Had he ordered the ships back to
Vietnam, he claims in the film, the Communists “woulda killed ‘em all.”
The Communist victors were certainly not merciful. They imprisoned hundreds
of thousands of people in “re-education camps” and subjected them to brutal
treatment. The predicted bloodbath, however, was a figment of the American
imagination. No program of systematic execution of significant numbers of
people who had collaborated with the Americans ever happened.
Following another script that first emerged in U.S. wartime propaganda, the
film implies that South Vietnam was vehemently anti-communist. To illustrate,
we are shown a map in which North Vietnamese red ink floods ever downward over
an all-white South -- as if the war were a Communist invasion instead of a
countrywide struggle that began in the South in opposition to an
Had the South been uniformly and fervently anti-Communist, the war might
well have had a different outcome, but the Saigon regime was vulnerable
primarily because many southern Vietnamese fought tooth and nail to defeat it
and many others were unwilling to put their lives on the line to defend it. In
truth, significant parts of the South had been “red” since the 1940s. The
U.S. blocked reunification
elections in 1956 exactly because it feared that southerners might vote in
Communist leader Ho Chi Minh as president. Put another way, the U.S. betrayed
the people of Vietnam and their right to self-determination not by pulling out
of the country, but by going in.
Last Days in Vietnam may be the best silver-lining story of the fall of Saigon ever told, but
it is by no means the first. Well before the end of April 1975, when crowds of
terrified Vietnamese surrounded the U.S. embassy in Saigon begging for
admission or trying to scale its fences, the media was on the lookout for
feel-good stories that might take some of the sting out of the unremitting
tableaus of fear and failure.
They thought they found just the thing in Operation Babylift. A month
before ordering the final evacuation of Vietnam, Ambassador Martin approved an
airlift of thousands of South Vietnamese orphans to the United States where
they were to be adopted by Americans. Although he stubbornly refused to accept
that the end was near, he hoped the sight of all those children embraced by
their new American parents might move Congress to allocate additional funds to
support the crumbling South Vietnamese government.
Commenting on Operation Babylift,
pro-war political scientist Lucien Pye said, “We want to know we’re still good,
we’re still decent.” It did not go as planned. The first plane full of children
and aid workers crashed and 138 of its passengers died. And while thousands of
children did eventually make it to the U.S., a significant portion of them were
not orphans. In war-ravaged South Vietnam some parents placed their children in
orphanages for protection, fully intending to reclaim them in safer times.
Critics claimed the operation was tantamount to kidnapping.
Nor did Operation Babylift move Congress to send additional aid, which was
hardly surprising since virtually no one in the United States wanted to
continue to fight the war. Indeed, the most prevalent emotion was stunned
resignation. But there did remain a pervasive need to salvage some sense of
national virtue as the house of cards collapsed and the story of those
“babies,” no matter how tarnished, nonetheless proved helpful in the process.
Putting the Fall of
Saigon Back in Context
For most Vietnamese -- in the South as well as the North -- the end was not
a time of fear and flight, but joy and relief. Finally, the much-reviled,
American-backed government in Saigon had been overthrown and the country
reunited. After three decades of turmoil and war, peace had come at last. The
South was not united in accepting the Communist victory as an unambiguous
“liberation,” but there did remain broad and bitter revulsion over the wreckage
the Americans had brought to their land.
Indeed, throughout the South and particularly in the countryside, most
people viewed the Americans not as saviors but as destroyers. And with good
reason. The U.S. military dropped four million tons of bombs on South Vietnam,
the very land it claimed to be saving, making it by far the most bombed country
in history. Much of that bombing was indiscriminate. Though policymakers
blathered on about the necessity of “winning the hearts and minds” of the
Vietnamese, the ruthlessness of their war-making drove many southerners into
the arms of the Viet Cong, the local revolutionaries. It wasn’t Communist
hordes from the North that such Vietnamese feared, but the Americans and their
South Vietnamese military allies.
The many refugees who fled Vietnam at war’s end and after, ultimately a
million or more of them, not only lost a war, they lost their home, and their
traumatic experiences are not to be minimized. Yet we should also remember the
suffering of the far greater number of South Vietnamese who were driven off
their land by U.S. wartime policies. Because many southern peasants supported
the Communist-led insurgency with food, shelter, intelligence, and recruits,
the U.S. military decided that it had to deprive the Viet Cong of its rural
base. What followed was a long series of forced relocations designed to remove
peasants en masse from their lands and relocate them to places where they could
more easily be controlled and indoctrinated.
The most conservative estimate of internal refugees created by such policies
(with anodyne names like the “strategic hamlet program” or “Operation Cedar
Falls”) is 5 million, but the real figure may have
been 10 million or more in a country of less than 20 million. Keep in mind
that, in these years, the U.S. military listed “refugees generated” -- that is,
Vietnamese purposely forced off their lands -- as a metric of “progress,” a
sign of declining support for the enemy.
Our vivid collective memories are of Vietnamese refugees fleeing their
homeland at war’s end. Gone is any broad awareness of how the U.S. burned down,
plowed under, or bombed into oblivion thousands of Vietnamese villages, and
herded survivors into refugee camps. The destroyed villages were then declared
“free fire zones” where Americans claimed the right to kill anything that
In 1967, Jim Soular was a flight chief on a gigantic Chinook helicopter.
One of his main missions was the forced relocation of Vietnamese peasants.
Here’s the sort of memory that you won’t
find in Miss Saigon, Last Days in Vietnam,
or much of anything else that purports to let us know about the war that ended
in 1975. This is not the sort of thing you’re likely to see much of this week
in any 40th anniversary media musings.
“On one mission where we were depopulating a village we packed about sixty
people into my Chinook. They’d never been near this kind of machine and were
really scared but they had people forcing them in with M-16s. Even at that time
I felt within myself that the forced dislocation of these people was a real
tragedy. I never flew refugees back in. It was always out. Quite often they
would find their own way back into those free-fire zones. We didn’t understand
that their ancestors were buried there, that it was very important to their culture
and religion to be with their ancestors. They had no say in what was happening.
I could see the terror in their faces. They were defecating and urinating and
completely freaked out. It was horrible. Everything I’d been raised to believe
in was contrary to what I saw in Vietnam. We might have learned so much from
them instead of learning nothing and doing so much damage.”
What Will We Forget
If Baghdad “Falls”?
The time may come, if it hasn’t already, when many of us will forget,
Vietnam-style, that our leaders sent us to war in Iraq falsely claiming that
Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction he intended to use against
us; that he had a “sinister nexus” with the al-Qaeda terrorists who attacked on
9/11; that the war would essentially pay for itself; that it would be over in “weeks rather
than months”; that the Iraqis would greet us as liberators; or that we would
build an Iraqi democracy that would be a model for the entire region. And will
we also forget that in the process nearly 4,500 Americans were killed along
with perhaps 500,000 Iraqis, that
millions of Iraqis were displaced from their homes into internal
exile or forced from the country itself, and that by almost every measure civil
society has failed to return to pre-war levels of stability and security?
The picture is no less grim in Afghanistan. What silver linings can
possibly emerge from our endless wars? If history is any guide, I’m sure we’ll
think of something.