In the press, this week was a very important article. It was about two young Australians, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran and their final hope for clemency. For those of you who have never heard of them, these two young men were part of and perhaps the ringleaders of a group called the Bali Nine, who were caught trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia. As an Australian, I feel that these two men have done enough time to realise the error of their ways. Were they to be released tomorrow, I believe they would never reoffend in this manner. Yet, they wait in prison to see whether the sovereign state of Indonesia will spare their lives. I would ask that nation to be merciful, and at least let them live. One of the reasons for the death penalty handed to them is to dissuade others from doing the same. I believe they could do more in this manner alive than dead, outside of prison than inside. I would like my country, Australia, to do everything in their power diplomatically to aid them. For me, if this government is to represent my voice, they will at least consider my plea. I blogged on this a long time ago in Japan, on a website called garantseraph.blogspot.jp. Now I have reaccessed my account, I have decided to export and rework the original article.
But before you continue reading further, I would ask that you give serious consideration to signing this petition asking for clemency to be granted. The link is at http://mercycampaign.org/petition
I know I could do a better re-edit, but I choose to make mostly cosmetic changes so it reflects my mood at the time of original writing. My original piece:
The need for further negotiation
This is how I see the world. Its like a group of people standing in a circle, as far away from each other as possible. These people each have a different perspective, or viewpoint. They remain rooted to their position and yell as loud as possible at all of the other viewpoints, and defend their own position as hard as they can. They have to yell loud because they are so far away from each other. This is the ground on which they stand inside of themselves. Basically, at a certain point of time in life they made up their minds. They are adamant; their points of view are set in stone. The positions in the circle, as I see it, have to take a few steps closer together. Then they can talk a bit quietly.
This is Grant’s version of how to fix the world, by the way. Get a football field. Get a man, woman and child from each country and each religion, dress them up in one of the other people’s clothes. And stand them at the MCG, while the world watches. Its Grand Final day, but in the spirit of things that really matter, we change that thing by a week. We let the kids go first. They yell as loud as they like. Hello, konichiwa, annyong, ne hao, jambo, g’day. No-one can hear each other, so their parents let them take a step forward. They have to walk. Then they talk about their really important things. I have a dog, I have a cat, I like soccer, I play baseball, wow Justin Bieber is so cool, green’s my favorite colour, I like Blue Ranger, I love reading. Music’s great. Do you know how to dance. And they say stuff as loud as they can, step by step until they reach the middle. Some music is playing, just basic piano stuff. Not too slow, not too fast. Maybe George Winston or something.
Then they reach the middle zone. In the middle is a new bicycle for each child, parked neatly, with their name on it. They can have a bit of a ride around for awhile. Wow, isn’t this neat. Then they get to the very centre where each child has a bottle of water made by a different company. No-one knows whose is whose. And some pizza. Just a basic vegetarian pizza. With some cheese. Some people don’t eat these things but most people do, so that’s okay. The kids have to shake hands say hello and give each other a hug. Then they can take their bikes back to their mothers.
Their mothers can do something similar without the bikes. They know at least two foreign languages, a little bit. They have a new camera and the CD of their choice. That’s their free stuff. In the middle, they can get a piece of cake, a little bit of whatever drink they want. They give their favorite CD to one of the other mothers. They do rock, scissors papers to see who gets to choose the music. And then they share their Facebook address. And they return to their children, who are in the care of…. the men, their leaders.
These guys have to yell and shout for a bit, for a day, in the spirit of world peace. When they get closer together, they should learn to think about what they say, and how they are saying it. They don’t get any free stuff because they are in charge of whole countries and religious groups and scientific projects. In their top pocket is one non-negotiable. Its something that the people of their countries would like to see happen. This has been vetoed by the world religious church thing with buddhists, hindus, muslims and skeptics. They have to be small things, very concrete things that will just make the world a better place. I have my own examples, but they are just mine. What do you think needs to happen? Just write it down somewhere and ask a couple of friends. What’s a non-negotiable? What do we want as citizens that no-one could possibly object to? Three simple things. Not, for example, the release of all Australian citizens. Or get rid of nuclear bombs forever. Or exact same working conditions for people everywhere. Simple stuff. An apology to someone or someone’s familiy or the families of a place. Simple stuff like that. There are American, Australian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Canadian, German, French, Italian, Russian, Brazilian, Kenyan, Vaticanan, Luxemburgian, New Zealandan French Polynesian non- negotiables.
Everyone can watch. It’s just a dream. It doesn’t need to be a circus like this, but we have to see this world getting better through helping ordinary people in trouble and pain. I think Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran and Julian Assange are Australians. They are our Australian story. For this to be a truly representational government, I believe our leaders are called upon to do their utmost on behalf of all Australian citizens. I would like a stay of execution for these particular young Australians. I would put that in their top pocket as a non-negotiable. Indonesia is a fine country, I am sure, it is an up and coming democracy and a key trading partner. But for trade to mean anything we should be able to come closer together on other things. If this message resonates with you please put it in your top pocket and give it to Kevin, Julia, Wayne, Tony or Malcolm. Please don’t be too confrontational or angry. Please do this the right way, with no anger in your heart. I just want my voice to be heard. I want to believe in my leaders. Please help me trust. In the Spirit of Kurt Vonnegut Jr, my dog and my family and other people’s heroes everywhere. My hero is my family for putting up with all my shit, and me just for sticking around. Who’s your hero? Part of reef relief.
PS: I am a global citizen and one of my key non-negotiables were I an American citizen would be some kind of apology to the family and friends of Aaron Schwartz. Start with something simple, like, gee whiz, I’m sorry we had to be so incredibly heavy handed. Maybe that was wrong of us, and we would not do the same again if faced with the same situation. Were I an American, I’d put that in my pocket and give it to my representatives. C’mon Barrack. Don’t you guys feel sorry, just a little bit? I’d like to vote for you, but…
PPS: As an Australian, one of the things I most admire about America is the notion of free speech. I think that’s great.