Brazil and the Netherlands recalled their ambassadors from Indonesia and expressed fury yesterday after Jakarta defied their pleas and executed two of their citizens along with four other drug offenders.
The other convicts to face a firing squad were from Vietnam, Malawi, Nigeria and Indonesia. The six were the first people executed under new President Joko Widodo.
Indonesia has tough anti-drugs laws and Widodo, who took office in October, has disappointed rights activists by voicing support for capital punishment despite his image as a reformist.
He defended the executions, saying drugs ruin lives.
A spokesman for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said she was “distressed and outraged” after Indonesia ignored her last-ditch pleas and put to death Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira, who was convicted of smuggling cocaine into Indonesia in 2004. “Using the death penalty, which is increasingly rejected by the international community, seriously affects relations between our countries,” the spokesman said in a statement.
The Brazilian ambassador to Jakarta was being recalled for consultations, the spokesman added. Meanwhile Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said the Netherlands had also recalled its ambassador over the execution of Dutchman Ang Kiem Soei, and in a statement described all six deaths as “terribly sad”.
“My heart goes out to their families, for whom this marks a dramatic end to years of uncertainty,” Koenders said. “The Netherlands remains opposed to the death penalty.”
Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Prime Minister Mark Rutte had been in contact with the Indonesian president about the matter, he said, and the government had done “all in its power” to try to halt the execution.
Widodo yesterday defended the death penalty in a Facebook post. “The war against the drug mafia should not be half-hearted measures, because drugs have really ruined the good life of the drug users and their families,” he said.
“There is no happiness in life to be gained from drug abuse. The country must be present and fight with drug syndicates head-on,” he added.
“A healthy Indonesia is Indonesia without drugs.”
All the prisoners, who had been sentenced to death between 2000 and 2011, were executed shortly after midnight, the attorney general’s office said.
The 53-year-old Brazilian, who was caught with drugs stashed in the frame of his paraglider at Jakarta airport, and the 62-year-old Dutchman were executed on Nusakambangan Island, home to a high-security prison, off the main island of Java.
A Nigerian, Daniel Enemuo; Namaona Denis, from Malawi; and an Indonesian woman, Rani Andriani, were executed at the same location.
The sixth convict, Vietnamese woman Tran Thi Bich Hanh, was executed in the Boyolali district in central Java. They were all caught attempting to smuggle narcotics apart from the Dutchman, who was sentenced to death for operating a huge factory producing the drug ecstasy.
All had their appeals to the president for clemency rejected last month.
Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said Hanoi had asked Indonesia “to ensure Vietnamese citizens’ legal rights and consider reducing their sentences in a humanitarian way” since Hanh’s arrest in 2011. But it was unclear whether they had asked for her sentence to be commuted.
Vietnam also uses the death penalty for drug offences and has sentenced dozens of foreigners over such crimes, although it has been decades since a foreign national was executed in the communist country.
Jakarta had an unofficial moratorium on executions for several years from 2008 but resumed capital punishment again in 2013. There were no executions last year.
Widodo, known by his nickname Jokowi, has taken a particularly hard line towards people on death row for narcotics offences, insisting they will not receive a presidential pardon since Indonesia is facing an “emergency” over drug use.
Following yesterday’s executions, the number of people on death row for drugs-related offences stood at 60, around half of whom are foreigners, said a spokesman for the national narcotics agency.
Widodo’s tough stance has sparked concern for other foreigners sentenced to death, particularly two Australians who were part of the “Bali Nine” group caught trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia in 2005.
One of the pair, Myuran Sukumaran, also had his clemency appeal rejected last month but authorities say he will be executed with fellow Australian Andrew Chan as they committed their crime together.
Chan is still awaiting the outcome of his clemency appeal.
Also on death row is British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford. She was sentenced to death in 2013 after being caught trying to smuggle cocaine into Bali.
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