The deed is done. The Indonesian government did it, they executed 8 of the Bali 9 accused of facilitating a drug ring. The deed was carried out on April 29, 2015 at 12:30 AM, there were no more reprieves given or stays of execution handed out, except for one, Mary Jane Veloso, the lone female member of the Bali 9. Her stay of execution is only temporary until they examine the evidence. Apparently someone from her home country of Philippines came forward to say that she was duped into being a drugs mule and due to her poverty, she was vulnerable to such manipulations. It is not known why her execution was stayed while the others went ahead, perhaps because she has 2 young children back home waiting for her, it’s unclear.
Prior to their executions, the governments from each of Bali 9’s respective countries made appeals on their behalf, citing lack of evidence, improper judicial process to plain cruelty to be executed by a firing squad in the 21st century, all in the end to no avail. The Guardian has kept a live blog detailing each judicial process and procedure until the execution was carried out. The live blog goes into great detail on who the 8 persons that were executed were and what they were charged with and based on what evidence they are found guilty. Two of the persons executed were of Australian citizenship, Australia has just recalled their ambassador from Indonesia. The world’s outcry is loud, most human rights groups are aghast with horror and people are quite shocked that despite appeals after appeals on legal and humanitarian grounds, Indonesia bucked against Western powers and went ahead with its execution.
Indonesia, like all Islamic countries have very harsh punishments for drug offenses, especially drug trafficking offenses, as they believe that drug addiction is a scourge invented, promoted and specific to the West. The one immorality the Islamic world can control that they can claim to not be their own (pornography, promiscuity, immodest dress code by women, drinking also make their list of Western immoralities, but muslims engage in all these activities with or without Western’s influence). Islamic countries do not take lightly to holiday makers having a puff of weed or a line of something or other here and there as part of holiday fun. It is something they strictly forbid and when caught, heavy penalties are handed down. Some Islamic countries, especially ones that depend heavily on tourism from Westerners have allowed the sale and consumption of alcohol, otherwise, it’s not really a vacation without any booze.
There are two things you don’t want to do in any Islamic country, the first is insulting their Prophet and Islam and second is to be caught with drugs, whether for recreational use or worse, possession with intent to distribute. They can tolerate quite a lot from holiday makers, including murder one’s own mother (more on that later), but not the aforementioned two offenses.
As imagined, the international community is outraged that 8 people were executed for crimes that didn’t result in the death of another, many of these charges appeared trumped up or convictions based on the word of mouth of another and not much of it is based on hard evidence, but then we are talking about Indonesia, all that doesn’t matter, what matters is they caught foreigners with drugs and with intent to distribute said drugs and it’s the perfect opportunity to show foreigners, even holiday makers, who is in charge in Indonesia. One detail that was particularly macabre was the 9 coffins that were waiting outside the execution site prior to the deaths of the prisoners, one would think it would be more appropriate to bring the coffins after their deaths, but that’s trifles at this stage. Besides the injustice and cruelty of the actual executions, there were other cruelties such as denying the prisoners the pastor of their choice for their last hours, it’s always the small cruelties and small injustices that show the true colors of the Indonesian judicial system. It’s not interested in justice or mercy for the condemned, it’s interested in headlines, for standing up to the international community.
On the real scandal out of Bali, is the case of Heather Mack and Tommy Schaefer for the murder of Heather Mack’s mother, Sheila Von-Wiese Mack over an argument about Sheila’s dislike for her daughter Heather’s boyfriend Tommy Schaefer. According to the defendants, it was an argument that escalated out of control, where Sheila Von-Wiese Mack allegedly used a racial slur on Tommy Schaefer (Sheila Von-Wiese Mack is Caucasian, Heather Mack is bi-racial (African American and Caucasian) and Tommy Schaefer is African American), in a fit of anger, a physical altercation ensued and Sheila Von-Wiese Mack was killed by mistake. It’s also worthy to note that Heather Mack, the victim’s daughter is the beneficiary of a $1.6 million dollar trust fund and she’s just turned 18. Sheila Von-Wiese Mack was a Chicago socialite with means, Tommy Schaefer knew this and is also aware of her opposition to their relationship. The relationship between mother and daughter was strained to say the least and it was rumored that Heather Mack tried to hire a hitman in the United States for $50,000 to get rid of her mother. It is not known if this is true as Heather Mack herself refused to answer this question. Heather Mack was also pregnant at the time her mother was murdered and has since had a little called Stella in prison. Stella is named after her boyfriend’s great-grandmother.
As harsh as the prosecutors were with the Bali 9, where their crimes didn’t result in the death of another person, the prosecutors were very lenient with Heather Mack and Tommy Schaefer. They worked out a deal where they would admit to some sort of manslaughter and Heather Mack got a 10 year prison sentence and Tommy Schaefer received a maximum of 18 year prison sentence for manslaughter. By the time their sentences are over, Heather Mack will only be 29 and Tommy will still be 39, both young enough to start new lives.
Mack maintained that her boyfriend killed her mother with a blunt object in the hotel room by mistake, and she helped him stuff her mother’s corpse in a suitcase and attempted to flee the country but was stopped at the airport because their passports were locked in the hotel room safe of which they didn’t have the combination to. Prosecutors found Heather Mack to be truly remorseful and shocked at what she had done, and conveniently, she was pregnant, at which the prosecutors and the judge did not wish to deprive a baby of its mother. Due to the wealth left to her by her mother, she was able to secure a top notch defense attorney in Indonesia and was treated very leniently and very well behind bars.
This young girl is an ingrate, perhaps in the throes of her passion for her boyfriend, she’s tossed all commonsense out the window. Mothers being disapproving of boyfriends is a age old lore, it will eventually resolve itself, kids grow up and what was so alluring to them at age 18 may not seem so at age 25 and as galling as it may seem, mom is usually right on these matters. It is unclear why Tommy Schaefer was brought on this vacation if her mother so disapproved of him, it really doesn’t matter why, what matters is that she was killed, stuffed in a suitcase and tossed out like garbage and no one paid with his or her life. Whereas the Bali 9, convicted of drug charges and were executed, yes drugs are horrible, and those who pedal them are the scourge of the earth, even we in the West do not condone drug use or drug culture. Just because it exists and has proliferated in society does not mean that Westerners approve of or like drug use but at the end of the day no one was harmed by the alleged activities of the Bali 9, yet they were executed by firing squad.
The death penalty ultimately is an inhumane way of punishment, and the United States is the only advanced Western nation still to execute its citizens. Many states have banned capital punishment but in some states it’s still widely used. However, if a nation like Indonesia is to still use the death penalty as a way of punishment, the least they could do is to apply the law fairly. I am not saying Heather Mack or Tommy Schaefer should be executed for their crimes, I don’t think her mother would want that, but for them to get less than 20 year sentences for murder but 8 other people were executed for drug smuggling where no one was harmed for their alleged crimes, there is something very wrong and unfair with that.