Reading The Pastor and the Painter was a little like reading a book about the Titanic. The tragic conclusion has already been well publicised.
Andrew Chan (the pastor) and Myuran Sukumaran (the painter) were killed by an Indonesian firing squad, upon the order of the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo.
Chan and Sukumaran had been sentenced to death by a Bali court for drug trafficking a decade before the sentence was finally carried out. Pleas for clemency were denied.
Not long before his death, Sukumaran painted a portrait of the man who would demand that the executions be carried out. On the back of the painting of the president, Sukumaran wrote “People Do Change”, stating the fact that everyone apart from the president seemed to recognise – that the two men whose lives were being taken from them were not the same men who committed the crime a decade before. They HAD changed.
The men sentenced were young, irresponsible, angry, unco-operative and undeniably guilty of the crime.
The men being executed 10 years later were repentant, responsible and highly respected by those with authority over them in jail. Unlike many in their position who buried their despair in drug use, Chan and Sukumaran turned their lives around and went to work developing and running training programs and various other activities for other prisoners within the jail.
Chan studied for Christian ministry and started a church within the prison.
Sukumaran developed his artistic skills and was mentored by Australian artist Ben Quilty; sharing what he learned through holding art classes for fellow prisoners. Paintings were sold and proceeds used for various causes, including raising money to pay for life saving surgery for a female prisoner.
While many in the past have had sentences reduced, sadly, for others Indonesian law would remain inflexible.
Laws are like spider webs: if a fly or mosquito gets near, it gets trapped, but if a wasp or bee goes near, it breaks it and leaves. The same applies to the law: if a poor man strays he gets caught, while the rich and powerful exempt themselves from the law and walk away.
(Andrew Chan – from The Pastor and the Painter)
The absurdity of executing fully rehabilitated young men, who had not only turned their own lives around but had made significant contributions to the rehabilitation of their fellow prisoners, became even more extreme when the time came for them to be transported to the place where they were to be held prior to facing a firing squad. It was a full-on military exercise with armoured vehicles, armed soldiers and fighter jets escorting them on their journey.
On 27th April, two days before he and Myuran were executed, Andrew Chan married Febyanti Herewila, a local church minister, in a ceremony within the prison.
All up, about 20 people gathered, After Muran led them in prayer, he started singing ‘Bless the Lord’, a song also known as ‘10,000 Reasons’, and one they all knew and loved.
There was still some time for jokes amid the sad pall that hung over the Besi prison visiting area. As Myuran got stuck into some more junk food, someone told him it wasn’t good for him.
He smiled. “There are worse ways to die”.
(From The Pastor and the Painter)
On 29th April 2105, at 12.25am, Andrew and Myuran and six others were brutally killed by Indonesian president Joko Widodo. The weapon used: firing squad.
They were strapped by the elbows to wooden crosses and sang until their voices were silenced by the fatal gunshots. The song in the video above is the last they sang.
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 and Indonesian Zainal Abidin. Two others (not pictured) who were scheduled to be executed were given a temporary reprieve. Photograph: The Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/29/bali-nine-who-are-the-nine-people-being-executed-by-indonesia )