SYDNEY (AFP) – More than two thousand Australians, led by local musicians, gathered in Sydney late Thursday in a plea for mercy for two drug convicts facing execution in Indonesia, as concern grew they could soon face a firing squad.
Holding candles and signs reading “I stand for mercy”, the crowd listened to speeches and live music at Martin Place in the heart of the city, in a show of support for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who recently lost their final appeals for clemency.
The pair – members of an Australian drug-smuggling gang dubbed the “Bali Nine” – were arrested in Bali in 2005 and sentenced to death the following year for attempting to smuggle eight kilogrammes of heroin out of the Indonesian holiday island.
Sukumaran’s grandmother Edith Visvanathan told the crowd that she was not asking for him to be sent home.
“I only ask him (Indonesian President Joko Widodo) to give him his life and let him do something with it,” she said between sobs.
Artist Ben Quilty, a friend of Sukumaran’s who organised the concert, choked back tears as he said the men’s families would be touched by the outpouring of support.
“Andrew and Myuran did really bad things, but they are good young men now,” he added.
Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson, who was in the audience, said there was “no cause for governments to kill people”.
“The death penalty is completely inconsistent with human rights principles and disproportionate to the crimes being committed,” he told AFP.