"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Friday, May 22, 2015

The right to life and Indonesian nationalism

As a part of the global community, Indonesia could benefit from the exchange of ideas and international cooperation, and many are not aware that this is already the case: The Bali Nine drug smugglers would never have been caught without the help of and cooperation with Australian authorities. Unfortunately, Indonesia cannot expect that kind of support any more as Western countries usually refuse to cooperate with countries that have the death penalty.

Indonesia might be an archipelago, but there are almost no unidentified remote islands on the map of the UN any more. When Indonesian officials and civil organizations call for the universal recognition of the dignity of faith, they also should listen to those in favor of universal human rights. Universal values are not recognized as a priori by all cultures, but recognition requires a process of negotiation and exchange of ideas and arguments.

There are many ways to justify the right to life. It can be justified by referring to holy books; it can be justified by referring to human dignity or to natural law. Indonesia should not isolate itself from the discussion about human rights or contrast human rights to national sovereignty.

Apart from the right to live, mercy is also common and acknowledged in almost every culture, so why should it not play a more important role in Indonesia’s legal system? What prompted many Australians to demand the right to life for Australian inmates on death row were news reports about Kerobokan prison in Denpasar, Bali.

The international community saw the two Australian prison inmates convincingly regretting their crime and engaging in rehabilitation activities. They saw desperate relatives begging for mercy. It was almost impossible not to feel empathy for the men on death row and their relatives.

Despite the fact that some Indonesians accused Australia of defending drug trafficking, the war against drugs is also not the aim of just one country, but it is universally acknowledged that drugs are dangerous and selling and consuming drugs should be prevented. Here, Indonesia also can work together with other countries.

By executing foreign citizens, international cooperation falls prey to nationalism as a political tool for the national elite. Instead of dealing with drug trafficking by implementing police reform to establish an effective tool to fight drug production and trafficking, some drug traffickers are seemingly executed as a political statement.

The international community is not an archipelago of isolated islands even if some nationalists might think so. The task of upholding universal rights is much more difficult than claiming particular cultural values. Why not take the right to life and mercy as universal values?

Australia and European countries can learn from that value, too. Showing mercy for refugees who are seeking a better life in Australia or in the European Union is also necessary if governments advocate for mercy convincingly. It is time to re-think our common base of values as a global community and overcome nationalism.

Source: Jakarta Post, Ririn Sefsani and Timo Duile, May 22, 2015

DPN does not share the opinion quoted in the above article and attributed to Islamic organizations that "there should be global standards for the ethics of satire" and that "the right to not be [allegedly] insulted by caricatures is seen as a universal human right."

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com