Today, eight people were executed in Indonesia for drug offenses. Despite repeated pleas for mercy from family members, citizens, human rights organizations, the United Nations, and governments around the world, Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, Nigerians Martin Anderson, Raheem Agbaje Salami, Okwuduli Oyatanze, and Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, and Indonesian Zainal Abidin faced a firing squad at just past midnight Indonesia-time. Serge Atlaoui from France has been given a temporary reprieve and Mary Jane Veloso from the Philippines was given a last-minute reprieve.
The offenses for which these ten have received capital punishment range from transport of heroin to intent to distribute marijuana. Some were young, one was mentally ill, others were in situations of economic necessity. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon had called on Indonesia to halt the executions. Though he has said that the United Nations opposes the use of the death penalty for drug related crimes, over 30 countries around the world continue to use capital punishment for drug offenses, executing thousands of people a year.
Statement from Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance:
“Indonesians should be ashamed of their government’s atrocity earlier today. The execution of these eight people for non-violent drug offenses will do nothing to reduce the availability of drugs in Indonesia or other countries, or protect people from drug abuse. All it demonstrates is the savagery of which governments are capable.
“One can only hope that the eight will not have died in vain. The protests by foreign governments and international organizations and even the UN Secretary General were unprecedented, hopefully giving not just Indonesia but also China, Iran and other governments that execute people for non-violent drug offenses good reason to reconsider their inhumane policies.
“It’s worth noting, moreover, that governments kill and torture people in the name of the drug war in all sorts of ways. Some, like Russia, deprive people of medications such as methadone that are approved for treatment of illicit heroin addiction. Others, including many state governments in the United States, still deny access to sterile syringes to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. And still others, most notably the United States, incarcerate hundreds of thousands of people for drug law violations.
“Hopefully the day will soon come when those who rightfully objected to Indonesia’s executions will object – with greater success than this time — to all such executions anywhere in the world as well as the other violations of human rights perpetrated in the name of the war on drugs.”