Mary Jane, The Woman Who Escaped A Firing Squad

Mother-of-two Mary Jane Veloso escaped the firing squad that executed Australia’s Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
Now, Indonesia’s President says his new Philippines counterpart has told him to “go ahead” with the execution…

Joko Widodo’s victim count:

(from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_in_Indonesia#Execution_statistics )

Joko Widodo, Pembunuh Berantai.

Final Minutes

From Christie Buckingham, who Myuran Sukumaran’s chose to be his spiritual adviser, to accompany him in his final hours.

They prayed, sang, joked and talked until just after midnight, when the guards arrived to take them to the killing field.

As they were marched out of their cells, Andrew led the prisoners in a chorus of Amazing Grace.

[Myuran] was chained to the pole on an angle slightly higher than her, so she stood on tippy toes and raised her arm high to block the line of sight so he could not see the lasers dotting his chest.

 

“We started singing Bless the Lord and I said, ‘Is there anything else you want to say?’ He said, ‘I trust you, Jesus’, and we kept on singing. The guard took me by the arm then, so I said to My very calmly, ‘I’m just going to take one step back, My. Can you still hear me?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, I can hear you’. Then I said, ‘I’m going to take a few steps to the side, My. Can you still hear me?’ and he said, ‘Yeah I can hear you’, and we kept singing. Then I said, ‘I love you. I’ll see you on the other side’.”

 

As she was walking off, Andrew called to her.

“I rushed to Andrew and put my hand on his heart, and I said, ‘Bless you, Andrew, I love you and I’ll see you on the other side’, and he said, ‘I love you, too, Mrs B. Keep being God’s woman’, which is what he’d always said to me. That moment will stay with me forever.”

 

“I said to them, ‘Keep singing’, so Andrew started to sing again and as I walked off to the side of the field where the other witnesses were, the guard put up a plastic sheet to block our view and they fired.

https://www.nowtolove.com.au/news/real-life/bali-two-andrew-chan-myuran-sukumaran-pastor-10417

The Pastor and the Painter, author interview.

It’s three years since Bali 9 drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed by firing squad.

Their supporters continue the campaign against Indonesia’s death penalty.

News Limited journalist Cindy Wockner covered their story from the beginning right through to their brutal end.

She promised the pair to write their story so their deaths would not be in vain.

Cindy spoke to Cathy Van Extel about what the two men were really like, how they changed and their fight against the death penalty.

Includes details of the amazing achievements of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran within Kerobakan prison, Bali prior to their brutal death ordered by the Indonesian president Joko Widodo. [pembunuh berantai]

From here: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/the-pastor-and-the-painter/9653912

Joko Widodo’s victim count:

(from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_in_Indonesia#Execution_statistics )

Another Day In Paradise

The exhibition of Myuran Sukumaran paintings mentioned in the video I posted yesterday moved from Sydney to Canberra at the beginning of March. On Saturday I saw it for myself. It closes on the 29th April but will reopen at the Bendigo Art Gallery in Victoria from 7th July to 16th September 2018.

exhib0002

It was the most emotionally challenging exhibition I’ve experienced. Even Gloria, who isn’t generally interested in art exhibitions was deeply affected.

 

another day0003

The exhibition started with a large portrait of Sukumaran, displayed at the bottom of stairs leading up to the exhibition rooms. The painting was very reminiscent of Ben Quilty’s style, and after leaving the gallery I started to wonder whether it had actually been by Quilty – I couldn’t remember reading the attribution beside the painting, however, I’m now confident that it was one of Sukumaran’s.

The rest of the paintings were split between two rooms.

Within the first exhibition room, the first paintings are a series depicting the “Bali Nine”, very recognisable portraits of Sukumaran, Andrew Chan, and the other seven who were arrested with them and imprisoned for drug trafficking in April 2005.

On the opposite wall were a similar series of paintings (I now wonder whether there were nine of those too – I didn’t think to count) of political figures associated with the case, firstly Indonesian president Joko Widodo, the man who ensured Sukumaran and Chan were shot, followed by others including portraits of Tony Abbott (then Australian PM) Julie Bishop (Foreign Minister) and former Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.

This is the Sukumaran’s last painting. It was displayed suspended from the ceiling, about 45cms away from the wall allowing the back of the board to be seen.
flag

The back of the board has messages written by all of those who were scheduled to be executed along with Sukumaran and Chan. The messages include one from Mary Jane Veloso, from the Philippines, who was given a last minute reprieve. Her fight to avoid execution continues three years later.

back of flag

The second room had family portraits and a wall of paintings from Sukumaran’s final 72 hours.

He made the most of that time, with some of his most emotionally raw and revealing work, as he tried to get as much on canvas as was possible while he could, knowing he had only hours to live.

The part of the exhibition that I consider to be a very moving conclusion was set up in an alcove-like area of the second room. Two large TV screens faced each other from opposite walls. On one it appeared to have a large still image of Andrew Chan facing the camera, eyes obscured by dark glasses. However tiny head movements revealed it was a close up video with Chan staring into the camera.

On the other screen, there was a similar image of Sukumaran staring back towards Chan, with an occasional blink “spoiling” the apparent stillness before finally. breaking into a smile.

This video installation emphasises what was lost with the unnecessary (and foolishly cruel) decision to  kill the two men; two men who were NOT the same people they had been when arrested and condemned to die ten years before.

cross.png

Sukumaran, Chan and six others were bound, by the elbows, to a cross like this. To each of them were allocated twelve marksmen, training their sights upon the heart of their designated victims, most of whom sang hymns until their voices were silenced by the fatal shots.

 

 

Myu’s last words were ‘Jesus, I trust in you’

(Christie Buckingham , Sukumaran’s chosen spiritual adviser who accompanied him to, and witnessed, his execution)

 

________________________________

see: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2017/jan/14/another-day-in-paradise-review-a-raw-emotional-insight-into-bali-nine-artists-life-on-death-row

and

https://www.theguardian.com/culture/gallery/2017/jan/14/another-day-in-paradise-bali-nine-member-myuran-sukumarans-art-in-pictures

The Pastor and the Painter, by Cindy Wockner

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 )

Remembering Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan

Today marks the first anniversary of the killing of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran at the command of the Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Their lives were ended at 12.25am on 29 April 2015.

From ABC Radio

Remembering Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan
Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were convicted drug smugglers but in the 10 years leading up to their deaths, they completely reformed. Andrew became an ordained Christian minister inside his Bali prison. Myuran expressed his growing faith in his art.

On their journey, they were accompanied by two extraordinary couples: Salvation Army chaplain David Soper and his wife; and the Rev Christie Buckingham and her husband Pastor Rob Buckingham of Melbourne’s Bayside Church. Rob Buckingham became a friend of this program, where he was a voice of reassurance in dark times.

http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/2016/04/rer_20160420_1750.mp3

sukumaran-1024x576
Illustration from here:
https://news.artnet.com/art-world/australian-artist-ben-quilty-seeks-mercy-for-bali-nine-236980

Also see story here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2015/11/11/myuran-sukumaran-gq-artist_n_8526004.html

and here

http://reprieve.org.au/news/reflections-29-april-2015-executions/

Prayer Shaming… article by Emma Green.

Prayer Shaming After a Mass Shooting in San Bernardino

Following the murder of at least 14 people in California, the reaction against calls for prayer has been sharp.

There’s a clear claim being made…, and one with an edge: Democrats care about doing something and taking action while Republicans waste time offering meaningless prayers.

There are many assumptions packed into these attacks on prayer: that all religious people, and specifically Christians, are gun supporters, and vice versa. That people who care about gun control can’t be religious, and if they are, they should keep quiet in the aftermath of yet another heart-wrenching act of violence. At one time in American history, liberals and conservatives shared a language of God, but that’s clearly no longer the case; any invocation of faith is taken as implicit advocacy of right-wing political beliefs.

Complete article:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/12/prayer-gun-control-mass-shooting-san-bernardino/418563/

I wonder how some of those conclusions were reached?

Could it be because the devotion of so many “Christians” to a particular party-political stance has given an impression that makes those judgements seem valid?

AUSA

and men loved darkness rather than light

While ISIS are an obvious current threat within the world, some of the conditions that made their murderous regime possible were set in place through the military campaign conducted by the US, Britain and Australia against Iraq a decade ago. Violence perpetrated by the west made way for violence against the west.
Sowing and reaping.

But that isn’t the only contributing factor. Prince Charles recently made claims that climate change also played its part, with Syria experiencing severe drought for many years that caused shifts of population and increased poverty. It seems he has been mocked making such “ludicrous” claims, but the same things were said in Years of Living Dangerously, a documentary I saw several months ago, in which Pulitzer Prize-winner Thomas L. Friedman examined the role of climate change on Syria’s turbulent political situation and how the resulting destabilisation created conditions for what’s happening today.
Climate change, the result of man’s greed and exploitation of God’s creation
Sowing and reaping.

The above two situations were exploited by men intent on violence, men driven by religious ideas that excuse and encourage their violence. Ideas that allow them to victimise and exploit the weak and helpless. They are parasites, feeding on the fear of those they oppress, choosing to follow evil passions and using their god as justification for what they do.

Earlier I mentioned my own thoughts about what I’d do if I was in a position where I could put an end to a situation like that in Paris, if killing a terrorist and stopping his rampage of murder would save countless other immediate victims.
The likelihood of that happening would be close to zero, but I wanted to consider how I’d respond in the very unlikely case that it did – and what response would be acceptable or “right”. It was more of a moral assessment than a serious consideration of viable possibilities. Surely I should turn the other cheek? But what if it’s not my cheek that was hit, or my life under threat? Do I turn a blind eye to the horrors being inflicted on others if I could make a difference?

Would prayer would be a preferable option in that case? Or standing up to them in the name of Jesus, to share the gospel?
It possibly would be if I knew I had faith strong enough to stand between the murderer and his intended victims and for those actions to bring about a favourable end to the situation. But unless God gave me a special gift of faith for that moment, I don’t think my faith wouldn’t be sufficient – and all I’d be doing was adding myself to the victims without preventing any further murders, and considering the present day methods of terrorists, it wouldn’t even prevent the perpetrator’s death (at his own hand).

Elsewhere I’ve received responses that say the terrorists are no greater sinners than all of the rest of us, that their murdering is no more sinful than the things we may see as being lesser evils: that we don’t see sin in the same way God sees it. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory…
But does God Himself NOT make distinctions? Clearly under the law he established with Israel He ordered harsher penalties (even death) for some sins than He did for others. All sin has eternal consequences, but some sin has consequences in the here and now.

Receiving the gift of salvation is conditional upon each individual’s choice. Those who openly choose systematic murder, rape, torture, terror and ultimately suicide, and encourage others to take the same path, disqualify themselves from any part in God’s blessings.

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practising evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

Evil and Cowardice

During the last two months:

Bombings in Ankara, Turkey killed at least 99.
The destruction of a Russian airliner caused the deaths of 224 on board.
Bombs in Lebanon killed at least 41.
Attacks in Paris killed more than 130.

How could anyone take pride in the cowardly slaughter of the unarmed and defenceless?

In Paris, Satan-inspired cowards didn’t have the guts to face up to anyone who could have fought back. Instead they blew themselves up to escape – foolishly thinking they would find themselves transported to paradise, “martyrs” for their cause.

And now they will find what kind of reward they will be receive for their hateful, evil cowardice. Instead of the paradise they expected, they will find that the brief agony of being torn apart by their explosive vests would itself be “paradise” compared to their actual eternal fate; “where ‘their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”

…the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

In the list of atrocities mentioned above, I note two of them were committed in countries that are Israel’s immediate neighbours. Also I’ve just read that the concert hall where most of the murders took place in Paris is Jewish owned. I don’t think any of that is coincidence.

Ben Quilty pays tribute to Myuran Sukumaran

Quilty

A video of Ben Quilty’s speech at Myuran Sukumaran’s funeral. Follow this link (approx. 10 mins):

http://www.smh.com.au/national/bali-nine-ben-quilty-pays-tribute-to-myuran-sukumaran-in-speech-at-sydney-funeral-20150509-ggxujf.html

Ben Quilty:

“The senselessness of what happened to my friend has made me see very clearly that the act perpetrated on him was as close to evil as I have ever seen,”