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.

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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 )

Again and again and again and….

No other developed nation comes close to the rate of US gun violence. Americans own an estimated 265m guns, more than one gun for every adult.

Data from the Gun Violence Archive reveals there is a mass shooting – defined as four or more people shot in one incident, not including the shooter – every nine out of 10 days on average

From the article article here:
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2017/oct/02/america-mass-shootings-gun-violence

again and again and again…

• 26 people were killed in a Texas church on Sunday, making it the 4th deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
• Three of the deadliest shootings in US history occurred in just the last year and a half.
• The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says gun deaths are going up in the US — 12 out of every 100,000 deaths in 2016 were from guns.

https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/three-deadliest-mass-shootings-us-093700570.html

This Is the Deadliest Year for Mass Shootings in Modern U.S. History

http://time.com/5010973/sutherland-springs-texas-mass-shootings-history/