The Politics    Tuesday, April 28, 2015


By Sean Kelly

Kerobokan prison
What is about to happen in Indonesia should never happen anywhere

By the time you receive this email, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran will have seen the faces of their families for the last time.

At some point after midnight, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran will be taken to their positions before the firing squad.

Each will be allowed a blindfold, should he wish it, and be asked whether he wishes to stand, kneel, or sit.

They will be strapped to wooden planks.

A black mark will be drawn on their clothing, over their hearts.

Twelve members of the national police will aim guns at the hearts of both Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

Three of the twelve guns aimed at each will contain bullets, and it is those six bullets that will kill Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

Afterwards, the bodies of the two men will be certified as dead by medical personnel. The bodies will be cleaned and given to their families.

This list is simple – and grotesque. Its horror comes directly from the cruelty of the act that precedes it: a state making the deliberate decision to take life from individual human beings under its care.

There is no possible justification for what is about to happen.

Last month, Sunrise host Samantha Armytage, introducing a pair of twins with dramatically different looks, said this: “The Aylmer twins come from a mixed-race family in the UK. Maria has taken after her half-Jamaican mum, with dark skin, brown eyes and curly, dark hair but Lucy got her dad’s fair skin – good on her! – along with straight red hair and blue eyes.” It has now made international news. Meanwhile, Melbourne radio presenter John Burns allegedly called Richmond AFL player Bachar Houli a “Muslim terrorist”.

Both have apologised (and Armytage has said it was a reference to a long-running joke about the travails of having very fair skin). Nevertheless, there has been a notable silence from most of those who piled on to SBS sports journalist Scott McIntyre for his ill-judged comments on Anzac Day. Notable exception: 3AW host Neil Mitchell.

Mathew Kenneally with a point I wish I’d thought of yesterday, about the impact of sacking people for what they say on social media: “Anyone who needs to pay their bills will think twice before expressing views about subjects. There is a risk the freedom to be unorthodox or offensive becomes a privilege, exercisable by those secure enough to take the risk, or those with a benefactor.”

Pope Francis is really getting behind action on climate change.

Our AAA credit rating may be under threat, or it may not.

Writer’s block: A dispute has arisen between authors over whether to celebrate Charlie Hebdo’s PEN award for free speech – Salman Rushdie on one side, Peter Carey and Michael Ondaatje on the other.

Politician’s block: Kevin Rudd’s website was blocked by federal parliament’s internal internet filter after it was mistakenly given the classification of “weapons”. It’s since been unblocked.  

Debate over same sex marriage continues in the ALP.

People leaving the workforce now have a much harder time financially than those who left a decade ago.

And a reminder of Paul Keating’s questioning of the national celebration of Gallipoli. 

Listen to The Politics Podcast, with Rachel Withers

Sean Kelly

Sean Kelly is a columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, and was an adviser to Labor prime ministers Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd.


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