On the day of his execution in April 2015, Myuran Sukumaran was furious.
But it wasn’t his own fate that he was angry about. Instead he was furious about the treatment of the other death row prisoners who were about to face the firing squad with him.
Myuran’s close friend, mentor and Archibald Prize winner Ben Quilty, has told news.com.au that the other inmates, who did not understand Indonesian, had been denied sufficient interpreters by Indonesian authorities.
“Myuran was very angry about this,” he said.
“The guards spoke a bit of broken English but all of the directions were given in Indonesian, and they [prisoners] relied on those people having a translator.”
“Myuran and Andrew were translating Indonesian into English to try to help them understand what was going on,” he added.
Some of the prisoners, who were Iranian, Nigerian, Brazilian and Filipino, had very little understanding of what was happening.
Quilty said this was part of the reason that Sukumaran, Chan, and some of the other Bali Nine were the go-to guys in Kerobokan prison.
“If new inmates came in and they couldn’t speak the language the men would be summoned and they’d help and negotiate their way through, right until the end.”
It’s been less than two years since Sukumaran and Chan were executed by a 13-member firing squad.
On the day of the execution, Sukumaran and Chan, were marched out of the prison with a guard of honour. The other prisoners shook their hands and said goodbye, a testament to the positive impact they had made on the lives of the inmates.
As the two men and the other death row inmates stood in a row, ready to face the firing squad, Sukumaran and Chan led them in singing Bless the Lord O My Soul. They never got to finish the song.
Quilty had met Myuran three years earlier, when he received a note asking him about art technique. They soon formed a close bond. Quilty became his friend and his mentor, and he witnessed first hand Myuran’s development as an artist.