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Uneasy challenges for Indonesian Diplomacy on Death Penalty

Image: Google Images / Reddit
Image: Google Images / Reddit

By Feri Rahmat Chandra Piliang*

Within few weeks, Indonesia will execute 11-15 people who are sentenced to death. Indonesian attorney general, H.M. Prasetyo said, he and his office could not predict number of person who will head to his death due to the lack of facility in Nusakambangan prison. Nusakambangan prison is the Indonesian version of American Alcatraz, an awful and feared prison in the country, almost of all mafia leader in drugs and human trafficking are prisoned here. This execution would be the second execution during Jokowi presidency, and he seems that would do it more. Minister of Law and Human Rights of RI, Yasonna H. Laoly confirmed during meeting with House of Representatives fellow members in Jakarta, Wednesday (1/21/2015), that there are 133 death row inmates need to be executed immediately by Indonesian tribunal. Among of these criminals, 57 convicted of drug related, 2 convicted of terrorism-related, and 74 convicted general criminal case.

Among criminals who will be executed for this second turns, there are two drugs leaders “Bali Nine”, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Both of these were arrested by Indonesian police in April, 17, 2005 caused drug smuggling, heroin 8,3 Kg (this worth USD 4 millions) from Indonesia to Australia. They were sentenced to death in 2006 by Bali high regional tribunal. “Bali Nine” is popular name for nine Australians who are drugs-related criminals, Andrew Chand, Si Yi Chen, Michael Czugaj, Renae Lawrence, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, Matthew Norman, Scott Rush, Martin Stephens, and Myuran Sukumaran. All of them faced life imprisonment and death penalty.

Jokowi have declined pardon letter of these convicted and ordered his officials to hurry up the execution. Jokowi have declared that he would not have mercy for any members and leaders of drug mafia, and he would not be affected by any countries regarding the execution. He added, the execution process would not differentiate between Indonesian nationalities of foreigners. All of them have to face the applicable law in Indonesia. He also added that nowadays Indonesia not only became transit country for drugs transaction but also producer country. Indonesia lied in drugs emergency. He would like to send a signal that Indonesia is serious on the execution, above all, in January 2015, his officials have executed six convicted, one of them Indonesian nationality and the rest are foreigners.

Not all mates are satisfied.

Australia is outranged with his neighbor’s planning. In Australian point of view, this execution is a barbaric action, regarding Australia have abolished death penalty for so long time. Critics and threats voices came from Australian government. Tony Abbot, Prime Minister of Australia said that he and his country fellows would not be pleased by the execution. Julie Bishop, Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs have brought up a threatening statement, if the execution is clearly done, Indonesia will got a huge lost particularly in tourism. Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs official reported that there is one millions tourist visiting Indonesian paradises: Bali and Lombok every year. Bishop reminded that Australian could do more that she or her Indonesian colleagues have predicted, the power of solidarity by boycotting Indonesia. In January 2015, Tony Abbot and Julie Bishop made representations to Jokowi and Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister, Marsudi, for clemency in the commutation of Sukumaran dan Chan’s sentences.

#Coin4Abbott, solidarity symbol for Indonesians.

In one occasion, Abbott said that Indonesia have to reciprocate in Australian aids to Indonesia and revoke death penalty status for two Australian death row inmates. Australia have deployed many of its aids mainly focused in acceleration of Indonesian development in eastern part of this archipelago nation. One of the biggest Australian aids worth AUD one millions, was during post-tsunami reconstruction for Tsunami victims in Aceh and Nias 2005. In response, Indonesians outrages and rally to repay tsunami aid. This action called #KoinuntukAustralia or #Coin4Abbot is supported by some Representatives in Parliament. Collected money will be handed to Australian Embassy in Jakarta. Soon, Abbott refused that his statement before is a humiliation for Indonesians particularly Acehnese who are helped by Australians. Bishop, his Foreign Affairs Minister had courtesy call with Vice President Kalla to explain Abbott’s statement.

Brazil-Indonesia diplomatic relations in menace

Brazil clearly opposed the execution planning. In January 2015 there was one of Brazilian nationality, Marco Archer Cardoso Mareira executed by Indonesia. Brazil response by recalled his ambassador to Indonesia as part of consultation process. For Indonesian, this implied Brazilian displeased regarding the execution. Apparently, President Dilma Roussef still outraged by Indonesian planning to execute more especially there will be one more Brazillian to be executed, Rodrigo Muxfeldt Gularte (42). Gularte arrested with his two friends for cocaine smuggling in Tangerang. He was sentence to death by Tangerang regional court, meanwhile his two friends sent home to Brazil. Recently, the Brazilian convicted suffered schizophrenia, a mental disease in his cell in Nusakambangan prison. His cousin, Angelita Muxfeldt said that he get involved in an intimate conversation with ghosts and feared another prisoners.

It became worse when Brazillian president, Dilma Rousseff, rejected to meet Indonesian designated ambassador to Brazil, Toto Riyanto while he and his diplomat were presenting in Palacio do Planalto. Ambassador Toto was one of ambassadors that presented his letter of credential to Brazilian president. In press conference in Pejambon (Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs), he described along with him, there were Maria Lourdes Urbaneja, Venezuelan ambassador, Edwin Emilio Vergara, Panamanian ambassador and Diana Marcela Vanegas, Salvadorian ambassador. Toto explained that he was invited by Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to attend the ceremony to present the letter of credential at presidential palace.

He was picked up and accompanied by Brazilian protocol staff and he was the first ambassador in row before the other ambassador. But, ahead before meeting with President Dilma Rousseff, Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mauro Vieira, brought up Ambassador Toto in a room and explained that President Dilma Rousseff cannot received his letter of credential at the moment. The ceremony was delayed and will be confirmed as soon as possible until Brazil got explicit confirmation about the second execution. This postponement according to Rousseff in order to find the right position for Brazil regarding the execution, “We believe the situation must evolve in order to be clear about the state of our relations with Indonesia. She would not take a further action, e.g. dissolution of bilateral relations, “…was to delay the reception of credentials, no more than that”.

Indonesian government didn’t accept the treatment. President Jokowi is angry and issued order to return Ambassador Toto immediately. Indonesia protested and called Brazilian ambassador to Indonesia, Paulo Alberto Da Silveira Soares. Clearly for Indonesian, this offended Indonesian sovereignty by embarrassing Indonesian diplomats. According to Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, all diplomats and country foreign representatives must be treated well and with high dignity by its country recipient, because they are not representing their personal interest but their sender country. Indonesian anger is continuous. Indonesian senators and national representatives regretted Brazilian treatment and urged the government stand at attention. Indonesia government will reanalyze two countries bilateral cooperation, including cancelation of the defense equipment purchased from Brazil. Vice President Kalla, has ordered to minimize trade import from Brazil. Indonesia believes that Brazil “need us” more than Indonesia needs Brazil.

Loose anger and think clear

All disruption regarding the execution is no one faults. Yes, there a lot of accusation of the cause, few people believed this is the impact of late loose government policy, Yudhoyono Presidency, but again we have to made it clear and as much as can, as it would not sacrifice anyone interest. President Jokowi have requested to mass media to calm in reporting this issues and do not raise tension, because it also touched nationality sentiments, the proud belong to some nations. Honestly Indonesia would do anything to force its law enforcement, as a sovereign country that possess positive law and sovereignty. Indonesia wanted in bilateral cooperation term, the cooperation should made each party fortune enough and little complications such this issues would not bring the ties cut off. I think our bilateral relationship is more valuable than confronting each other because it will inflict a financial loss in international trade. Some of internal voices urged Indonesian government to prioritize not only economic diplomacy but also diplomacy on death penalty. Indonesian officials abroad have to be active and capable to explain the world, particularly the countries whose citizens sentenced to death penalty by Indonesian tribunals, about Indonesian positive law. These officials should become forefront porte-parole in Indonesian diplomacy and sovereignty.

10488115_10202293185034104_8812939122248224979_n*Feri Rahmat Chandra Piliang, a dreamer, a linguist, democratic activist, and political and socio-cultural analyst, and an international actor wanna-be. Just graduated from French Study Program, Faculty of Humanities, Universitas Indonesia, Indonesia. He adores cooking, mainly Asian cooking. He likes Putumayo’s album. Worships Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Hamka, Camus, and Molière. He grew up in a matrilineal world of his family and his clan, which made him think that equity in gender is mandatory. He can be contacted at feri.rahmat(at)


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