Jakarta (AFP) – Indonesia’s foreign ministry told Australia Wednesday that nobody responds well to threats as tensions mount over the looming execution of two Australian drug smugglers.
As diplomatic efforts intensify to save Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Prime Minister Tony Abbott asked Indonesia to remember the one billion dollars in Australian aid in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami that killed 170,000 Indonesians.
“We sent a significant contingent of our armed forces to help in Indonesia with humanitarian relief,” he told reporters in Australia earlier Wednesday.
“I would say to the Indonesian people and the Indonesian government – we in Australia are always there to help you and we hope that you might reciprocate in this way at this time.”
Abbott said he continued to make “the strongest possible personal representations” to Indonesian President Joko Widodo and warned he would feel “grievously let down” if his pleas for clemency were ignored.
Abbott’s comments were not warmly received in Jakarta, which has repeatedly insisted its decision to execute the two ringleaders of the so-called Bali Nine heroin smuggling operation was not directed at Australia.
Foreign ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said he hoped the prime minister’s remarks did not reflect “the true colours of Australians”.
“What I know is this: threats are not part of diplomatic language and from what I know no one responds well to threats,” Nasir told reporters in response to Abbott’s tsunami aid remarks.
Indonesian authorities have confirmed the Australians will be among the next set of prisoners to face the firing squad, but have remained tight-lipped about when the executions will take place and which other foreign convicts will join them.
On Tuesday Chan and Sukumaran were given a glimmer of hope when their transfer to the prison where they are due to be shot was postponed.
The Indonesian attorney-general’s office said the transfer would not go ahead this week.
The delay was in response to Canberra’s appeal for more time for the families to be with their loved ones, and logistical difficulties involving capacity at the Nusakambangan island jail.
Despite this, Indonesia insisted the execution of the Australians – who are on death row along with citizens from France, Ghana, Brazil and Nigeria – would go ahead, having lost their appeals for presidential clemency.
“We will be making our displeasure known. We will be letting Indonesia know in absolutely unambiguous terms that we feel grievously let down,” Abbott said when asked what would happen if the executions went ahead.
“I don’t want to prejudice the best possible relations with a very important friend and neighbour.
“But I’ve got to say that we can’t just ignore this kind of thing – if the perfectly reasonable representations that we are making to Indonesia are ignored by them.”
Relations have been on an even keel in recent months, recovering from a damaging rift in 2014 over spying revelations and people-smuggling.