Australians on death row: a win-win option

Letter to Foreign Affairs Minister The Hon Julie Bishop MP
February 14, 2015
Dear Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop,
With the greatest respect for your work in Foreign Affairs in general and the extraordinary efforts to avert the executions of Australians in Indonesia specifically, I propose a suggestion at odds with most current thinking about responses to Indonesia’s refusal of clemency.
I propose that Australia offer – publicly – to join Indonesia in actively advocating to seek clemency for all of Indonesia’s citizens facing the death penalty anywhere in the world (more than 200 as you mentioned in Parliament), as part of an agreement to spare the lives of the two Australians currently on death row.
This aligns with our own stand against the death penalty in general;
It offers Indonesia’s President a rationale, in domestic political terms, to change course;
It offers Indonesia a loud and credible voice on the international stage in support of their threatened citizens and sets the right example;
It sets a precedent for any future similar circumstance – effectively serving to undermine the death penalty, at least in Indonesia;
It could not reasonably / politically be refused
The offer, after being made through your office in due diplomatic process, could be publicised to Indonesian citizens by suitable advertising in major Indonesian media as a public show of friendship and co-operation that offers a win-win outcome. That would provide visible credibility for the Indonesian President’s decision and provide him some political protection (especially if he knew it was to happen).
I believe that any move to ‘punish’ Indonesia – whether diplomatically or economically via a travel ban, say, achieves the opposite of our intentions, namely it would harden public and official attitudes.
Cordially yours,
Andrew L. Urban
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