MY VIEW: Strong stand needed against death penalty

Australian death-row prisoners Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
Australian death-row prisoners Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Firdia Lisnawati, File

COPLAND: I can't imagine what is like to lose a son or daughter to drugs.

From a distance, I have observed the turmoil and distress it brings to parents and siblings.

It must be even more devastating when the child you loved into this world dies of an overdose, or a batch of the poison gone wrong.

Which made it all the more incredible when a friend of mine, Nancy from Warwick stood with me in opposing the death penalty which eventually took the life of Australian Van Nguyen in 2005.

Nancy had lost her adult son as a result of a drug over-dose.

Van Nguyen was caught peddling the same sort of drugs that took Nancy's son's life.

His life was eventually taken by the Singaporean authorities.

Nancy's perspective was strong, courageous and true. At the time, she said, "I have lost my son forever. How can the taking of another son from another mother make this better, or make this right?"

I remember clearly sitting in the lounge of our house in the early hours with my wife and three young boys, lighting a candle and praying for Van Nguyen as they hung him and took his life in Changi.

No one can defend the actions of a drug smuggler, but the brutality and cruelty of a state playing God and deliberately taking a person's life is just plain wrong.

It brings no benefit.

Over the past few weeks, the stories of the remorse and rehabilitation of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran have been deeply moving.

These two Australians facing capital punishment in Indonesia have not only turned their lives around, they have impacted in a deeply positive way on those around them.

Just yesterday I learnt that nine of Andrew Chan's fellow inmates have offered to take his place in front of the firing squad.

Myuran Sukumaran has touched and inspired so many lives through his art.

To their credit, Australian politicians of all persuasions have joined the plea for human decency and mercy.

Some like father of the Australian Federal Parliament, Phillip Ruddock, have a long history of opposing the death penalty in all forms in all circumstances.

Because this is the challenge. It is one thing to oppose the death penalty when it is an Australian citizen who has turned his or her life around facing capital punishment.

To have a strong voice and a principled voice, we must stand strong even when the life that we are pleading for is "not one of our own".

Should the Bali Nine ringleaders face the death penalty?

This poll ended on 24 February 2015.

Current Results





This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

In October of 2002, 202 lives were taken in the atrocity that was the Bali bombing.

One of those lives was Joshua Deegan from Adelaide. Joshua's father Brian, a magistrate from Adelaide, spoke out about the death penalty when it was hardest and when it mattered most.

When Amrosi, the smiling assassin was convicted with taking the life of Josh Deegan and hundreds of others, and sentenced to death, Brian Deegan bravely spoke out.

He said, "The suggestion that Amrosi and his fellow evildoers should face an Indonesian firing squad is unconscionable because that would make the punishment as barbaric as the crime.

"What the Bali bombers did to my child and to hundreds of others defies description. But the October 12, 2002, terrorist attacks do not give anyone the right to repeat such a vile act."

I urge Prime Minister Tony Abbott at this late stage to do everything he can to stop the killing. I beg Indonesian President, Joko Widodo to be the strong man and show some mercy.


  •  Brenda Harth: You travel to a foreign country with the death penalty and knowingly trade in drugs. Why should our government fight for someone who's gone into this with their eyes wide open? These aren't naughty little boys smoking pot behind the school sheds or even boys getting high in a foreign country, they were wheeling and dealing in a foreign country.
  • Tanja Dieckmann: Yes do the crime do the time, and that's just it, "the time". Execution is cutting that time. No one has the right to take another life. A jail sentence in a Balinese prison is punishment enough.
  • Emma Chetwynd Cabot: "Don't do the crime, if you can't do the time". These guys knew the consequences of drug trafficking in this country. Also, how many lives have they adversely affected/taken through their activities?
  •  Sharon Lee Shaw: A life sentence yes, but not assassination especially after 10yrs, and some of the Bali bombers are free!
  • Roxi Walker: Do the crime do the time, how much more tax payers money is going to be spent trying to help guilty criminals. They knew that the penalty would be death so let it happen.
  •  Toni Montefiore: Stop wasting time and money. Concentrate on the majority population that are here in Australia abiding by the law. This is another one of those distraction antics he has become known for, this will happen and then you will find he has already passed another cut in funding that he promised to never do.
  • Jemima Pretzel: On the one hand, they took the risk (assuming) they knew the consequences of their crime in that country. On the other hand, if it were my brother or son, I'd be begging for mercy. To those people here who are so harsh and legalistic, would you have the same view if it were your family member? There's more to consider than just the two felons.
  • Amanda Pukallus: They deserve jail. They don't deserve to die by firing squad. What a sick country we live in.
  •  Karen Neumann: I don't believe anybody knows the true story. But what is killing them going to achieve. Life in prison.
  • Ron Lange: My take is if you blow up a lot of innocent tourists or schools government you get a slap on the wrist and given hero status, drug dealers get the death penalty unless you have sufficient money to buy government officials then maybe you just a couple of years, priorities are a bit strange. They were stupid for what they tried to do.

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