How The World Is Reacting To The Killing Of 8 Of The 'Bali 9' Members By Firing Squad

Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran and six other men were executed by firing squad, while Filipina Mary Jane Velosa was awarded a last-minute reprieve.

Cover image via Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

Early on Wednesday, 29 April 2015, Indonesia executed eight of the 'Bali Nine' members convicted of drug trafficking. While the Indonesian government had announced that all the nine prisoners would be executed, Filipina Mary Jane Veloso was spared, at least for now! However, no reason was given for Veloso's reprieve.

Filipina death row prisoner Mary Jane Veloso seen in traditional dress to mark Kartini Day at Yogyakarta prison.

Image via CNN

Of the eight executed are:

The eight people who were executed in Indonesia on 29 April 2015. Top row from left (including two of the Bali Nine): Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, Nigerian Okwuduli Oyatanze and Nigerian Martin Anderson. Bottom row from left: Nigerians Raheem Agbaje Salami, Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, Zainal Abidin.

Image via The Guardian

— Myuran Sukumaran, 34, and Andrew Chan, 31, Australia, arrested in 2005 for attempting to smuggle more than 8 kilograms (18 pounds) of heroin to Australia as part of a group dubbed the Bali Nine.

— Martin Anderson, 50, Nigeria, arrested in Jakarta in 2003 with 50 grams (1.8 ounces) of heroin.

— Jamiu Owolabi Abashin, 50, Nigeria, arrested in 1998 at Surabaya airport with about 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of heroin. He was originally sentenced to life in prison, which was reduced to 20 years by the High Court, then changed to death by the Supreme Court on appeal by prosecutors.

— Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise, 49, Nigeria, arrested in 2003 on arrival at Jakarta airport from Pakistan with 1.2 kilograms (2.6 pounds) of heroin.

— Okwudili Oyatanze, 45, Nigeria, arrested in 2001 on arrival at Jakarta airport from Pakistan with about 2.5 kilograms (5.5 pounds) of heroin.

— Zainal Abidin bin Mahmud Badarudin, 50, Indonesia, arrested at his home in 2000 with about 59 kilograms (130 pounds) of marijuana.

— Rodrigo Gularte, 42, Brazil, arrested in 2004 on arrival at Jakarta airport with about 6 kilograms (13 pounds) of cocaine hidden in several surfboards.

The firing range on Nusa Kambangan, the "Alcatraz of Indonesia," where Myuran Sukumaran, Andrew Chan and six others were executed. According to reports, none of the eight executed prisoners wore blindfolds when they faced the 12-man firing squad!

Image via James Brickwood

Conducting themselves with “dignity and strength until the end”, the condemned men sang songs of praise as they stared down their executors. Family members of some of those shot had gathered in marquees on Nusa Kambangan Island, reportedly able to hear the devastating shots.

The Australian pair’s families were not on the island, but back at their Cilicap hotel. In a statement, the families of Mr Sukumaran and Andrew Chan expressed their gratitude.

“Today we lost Myuran and Andrew. Our sons, out brothers,” the joint statement read. “In the ten years since they were arrested, they did all they could to make amends, helping many others. They asked for mercy, but there was none. They were immensely grateful for all the support they received. We too, will be forever grateful.”

As the news spread around the world, among the first to react publicly was a lawyer who acted for the two Australian men, Andrew and Sukumaran, tweeted emotional messages on Twitter:

Sukumaran's cousin tweeted:

Lashing out at what he called the country's "flawed legal system," Michael Chan, brother to Andrew, posted this tribute on Twitter:

Michael's condemnation was followed up by several Australian politicians who tweeted to jointly condemn the executions:

Meanwhile, Queensland's Courier Mail depicted Indonesian president Joko Widodo with blood on his hands on their front page:

Speaking hours before the executions, Australia's foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said she had been in touch with each of the men's families throughout the night. "They are in a devastating position."

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop speak at a press conference in Canberra on Wednesday.


In a joint press conference with Ms Bishop, Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirmed Australia would take the unprecedented step of withdrawing its ambassador to Indonesia.

Australia's PM described the executions as "cruel and unnecessary"

‘We will withdraw our ambassador’ ... Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and PM Tony Abbott hold a press conference in Canberra.

Image via Kym Smith

“We deplore what’s been done and this cannot be simply business as usual,” he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday. Mr Abbott said Australia’s reaction could not be “simply business as usual. For that reason ... our ambassador will be withdrawn for consultations.”

A number of authorities and celebrities who tweeted, condemning the executions, called the act an "abuse of state power":

Meanwhile, there was relief among supporters of Mary Jane Veloso, whose execution had been stayed. Although her reprieve is said to be temporary, her family said it gave them fresh hope. Her mother, Celia Veloso, told Philippine radio station DZMM:

Activists react after it was announced that the execution was delayed for death row prisoner Mary Jane Veloso, during a vigil outside Indonesian embassy in Makati, Philippines.

Image via Ezra Acayan/Reuters

"Miracles do come true. We are so happy, I can’t believe it. I can’t believe my child will live. We had no more hope. My [other] children were already in the island waiting to pick up her body.

We are all so happy. Her kids were all awake, yelling ‘Yes, yes, mama will live!’ I will tell her it is true what she said: if God wants you to live, as long as there is a minute left, he will save you."

Amnesty International has issued a statement on what it calls the "theater of cruelty" played out tonight. Its UK director said:

"The world has watched on as this theatre of cruelty played out, with this most tragic of endings. It did not have to come to this. The death penalty is never the answer."

Australians are expressing their anger on Twitter under the hashtag #BoycottIndonesia, to which Indonesians are responding back:

Defending the executions, Indonesia's attorney general, Muhammad Prasetyo, said "that an execution is not a pleasant thing. It is not a fun job," adding that the country was facing a "war" against drugs.

“We are fighting a war against horrible drug crimes that threaten our nation's survival,” Muhammad Prasetyo told reporters in Cilacap, the gateway to the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan where the executions took place.

“I would like to say that an execution is not a pleasant thing. It is not a fun job,” Prasetyo went on. “But we must do it in order to save the nation from the danger of drugs. We are not making enemies of counties from where those executed came. What we are fighting against is drug-related crimes.”

Earlier it was reported that just days before convicted drug smuggler Andrew Chan was set to face death by firing squad, he married his girlfriend of three years, Febyanti Herewila.

Andrew Chan smiles as he places a ring on his bride Febyanti Herewila's finger, fulfilling one of his final wishes at their prison wedding on Nusakambangan island on Sunday.

Image via Daily Mail

Close home, about 900 people were on death row in Malaysia as of 2012, mostly for drug offences. Back then a Government Minister said that Malaysia may reconsider mandatory death sentence for drug trafficking, raising Amnesty's hopes, but nothing further has been announced. However, in 2014, an ethnic Indian got a reprieve few hours before his execution:

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