This powerful post from our newest columnist Tanya Plibersek will have you banging the table in fierce agreement.
Recently, while in gaol in Indonesia, Andrew Chan wrote a letter to his teenage self.
In the letter he says:
“Your family and your friends are heartbroken and your life will be ended by a firing squad.”
“I have missed weddings. I’ve missed funerals and the simple presence of my own family. The hurt and pain – I don’t just put it on to myself. But the pain I put on my family is agonising.”
There aren’t many people who’d fail to be moved by those words.
They give us some understanding of the heartache, and the guilt felt by this son, brother, cousin.
That said, of course prison is not meant to be easy. It’s punishment. And it’s an opportunity to reform.
Both Andrew and his co-convicted, Myuran Sukumaran, know they committed a very serious crime. They have demonstrated genuine remorse. But they know they must pay a heavy price. They know their time in prison is an opportunity to repay their debt to society.
Related Content: Julie Bishop’s final attempt to save Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
By all reports, during their decade in gaol, both young men have made exemplary efforts to rehabilitate themselves, as well as other prisoners. Even the Governor of the prison has commended their work.
Andrew has become a pastor. Myuran has trained as an artist. They have facilitated educational courses for others prisoners including English language classes, painting classes, drawing, music, dance, fitness and basic computer skills. They have helped coordinate fundraising activities both to improve the prison facilities and to support the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
Allowed life, the example of Andrew and Myuran’s reform shows the strength of the Indonesian justice system.
Death weakens Indonesia’s ability to plead mercy for its own citizens facing execution around the world – currently some 229 people. And death would rob Indonesia of two young men who want to continue repaying their debt to society.