IS TONY ALSO PLAYING POLITICS?
All leading Australian politicians, starting with Prime Minister Tony Abbott, have attacked Indonesia and almost demanded that the pair not be executed. Unlike most of his other policies, this has been quite popular. He and his government appear to be standing up for the reformed Chan and Sukumaran. This has struck a chord with many who might otherwise not have voted for his government. Among the more "conservative" people who tend to support the Liberal and National Parties, the death penalty might not be such an important issue. Indeed it seems that many less vocal Australians see no moral difficulties with their execution.
IS THERE AN ELEMENT OF HYPOCRICY HERE?
Whatever Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten may say, the reality behind Australia's position on this issue is far less humanitarian than the concern shown publicly. It has been Australian government policy for years to provide information to Indonesia even though they have the death penalty. The fact that Australians might face the death penalty because of the information the AFP provides has been an accepted part of Australian policy for years. There is no point blaiming the AFP for these deaths. They clearly acted in accordance with guidelines developed and understood by one government after another since the first agreement was signed with Indonesia on October 27, 1995.*
The first agreement was called the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (Republic of Indonesia) Treaty, and deals with trans-national crime, particularly drug traffficking.
"What wasn’t publicly promoted is that while the treaty states that Australia must refuse any request for assistance from Indonesia if we suspect it relates to 'prosecuting or punishing [a] person on account of [their] race, sex, religion, nationality or political opinions….', on the question of capital punishment for drug traffickers, Australia left the door wide open."*
Clearly, if the central concern of the treaty was drug trafficing, then it is hard to believe the Indonesians would have been interested in a drug trafficing treaty which excluded the possibility of executing Australians caught committing these crimes. It is likely that the whole point of the treaty, for Indonesia anyway, was to change what was probably the previous policy of non-cooperation with respect to information which might put Australians at risk of facing the death penalty. This policy has been tinkered with from time to time, but the central point has never been changed. Information can be given to Indonesia even if it may lead to the arrest and eventually the execution of Australian citizens.
THE HORSE BOLTED 20 YEARS AGO
When that treaty was signedf 20 years ago, Australia gave up the idea of protecting its citizens from the death penalty. However it seems that no party has ever been prepared to change this treaty, even though they might huff and puff about Indonesia. This is completely in line with Australia's sad record of not supporting its citizens when they get in serious trouble overseas. Consider David Hicks, Mamdouh Habib, Schapelle Corby, and of course Julian Assange.
Is Tony Abbott or Bill Shorten going to admit to the Australian people the real situation? "You see, we made this deal with Indonesia 20 years ago. This treaty is more important to us than the lives a few unlucky Australians who happen to get caught dealing or smuggling drugs in Indonesia."
So when we see our politicians talking about the execution of Chan and Sukumaran, ringing their hands about the behaviour of those nasty Indonesians, we should remember that the Australian Deep State and the relevant political elite decided some time ago that the execution of Australians in that country is not a serious political matter. Many citizens of Australia might be horrified, but as our leaders understand the Greater Good for Australia, such events are of no real importance, unless they can be used to make an unpopular government look like they actually care about the citizens who pay their generous wages.
*Blood On Their Hands: The Secret Government Treaties That Helped Kill Chan And Sukumaran
By Chris Graham
Two other relevant articles:
Bali nine executions: Australian Federal Police to break silence on Bali nine
AFP role in ceding Bali Nine’s Chan and Sukumaran to death row