Coffins readied as calls mounting for Jokowi to stop execution of drug convicts

Jakarta – Authorities are preparing coffins as pressure is mounting on Indonesian President Joko Widodo to stop the imminent execution of up to 10 death-row drug convicts after the inmates were given their 72-hours notice until they are shot by firing squads.

Nine coffins covered in white cloth have been taken from two churches in the town of Cilacap, near the Nusakambangan island where the convicts will be executed, to the local police station, police said.

Indonesians and foreigners have made impassioned pleas on social media for Jokowi to show mercy to the convicts, only one of them Indonesian.

Nearly 6,000 people have signed a petition urging the president to commute the death sentence for Mary Jane Veloso, a Philippine woman who has confirmed that she would be executed on Tuesday.

Even though the Attorney General’s office has not announced a date for the executions, it has said that the convicts will be executed at the same time.

France-based Indonesian singer Anggun has sparked controversy here for writing an open letter to Jokowi seeking clemency for French death-row convict Serge Atlaoui, with some more nationalist Indonesians accusing her of supporting drug trafficking.

“Death penalty is not a solution, it’s an act of vengeance,” Anggun said on Twitter.

Atlaoui has been taken off the execution list for now because he still has a pending legal challenge, Attorney General’s office spokesman Tony Spontana said.

Amnesty International called for an immediate halt to the execution plans.

“If these executions go ahead, they’ll be a serious stain on Indonesia’s human rights record and Joko Widodo’s Presidency and damage relations between Indonesia and its friends,” said Diana Sayed, an Amnesty International campaigner.

Despite the outpouring of pleas, there are no indications that Jokowi is reconsidering his decision to deny the convicts presidential clemency. He is in Malaysia to attend a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“The failure of President Joko Widodo to genuinely consider clemency applications on a case-by-case basis, contrary to the Indonesian Constitution, also raises serious questions about the rule of law in Indonesia,” Sayed said.

Relatives met on Sunday with the convicts at the Nusakambangan prison island, where the inmates are to be executed.

Michael Chan, the brother of Andrew Chan, one of two Australians facing the firing squad, said they were taking the news of their impending executions in stride, Australian broadcaster ABC reported.

“The two boys are still holding up pretty well, considering they feel that there is injustice to what has happened over the last ten years with their whole case,” Michael was quoted as saying.

He said his brother’s final wish would be to attend church with his family.

The other prisoners facing execution are four from Africa and each one from Brazil and Indonesia.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged Indonesia to consider declaring a moratorium on the death penalty and said drug-related offenses generally are not considered to fall under the category of “most serious crimes.”

“Under international law, if the death penalty is to be used at all, it should only be imposed for the most serious crimes, namely those involving intentional killing, and only with appropriate safeguards,” a UN spokesman said.

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