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Andrew Chan's widow speaks on anniversary of his death

Febyanti Herewila Chan (right), widow of drug trafficker and Bali Nine member Andrew Chan
Febyanti Herewila Chan (right), widow of Bali Nine member Andrew Chan 
The widow of convicted drug trafficker Andrew Chan has spoken out about his death, two years after he was executed by a firing squad for his crimes.

Australian national Chan, 31, was shot dead on the prison island of Nusakambangan on April 29, 2015 alongside Myuran Sukumaran, both were ringleaders of the Bali Nine group and were convicted of attempting to smuggle more than eight kilograms of heroin into Australia.

Chan's widow, Febyanti Herewila Chan, also known as Feby, married the doomed prisoner just hours before he faced the firing squad and told Whimn his death will impact her for the rest of her life.

'I have learnt as a woman how to stay by the side of the man you love facing the hardest moment in his life', she said.

Chan and Sukumaran were labelled as 'model prisoners' after their decade behind bars at Kerobokan Prison, where they passed the hours running art classes, counselling other inmates and - for Chan - preaching Christianity.

Ms Chan, a pastor, met her husband in 2012 when she visited the prison to work, but they didn't realise their love for each other until two years later.

'Andrew was a man full of faith, and fun at the same time,' she told Whimn.

'His jokes were a little bit sarcastic but that's what made him fun to be with. We had lots of differences and disagreements but he never got offended and we always finished the day with smiles and laughter.'

Since her husband's death, Ms Chan has struggled to live with the all-consuming grief, but she is slowly learning how to get by.

'There are times I just wanted to be swallowed by the earth and just gone,' she said.

'I have learnt how to face my grief and not fall apart. I have learnt how to pick myself up again.'

The couple's dream was to establish a youth centre and school to help underprivileged children on the tiny Indonesian island of Sabu-Raijua, a vision the young widow is proud to see come to life.

The centre will provide free education and English classes for youths.

Ms Chan says 'every detail' of the project makes her feel very close to her late husband and she still thinks about him every day.

Source: Mail Online, May 3, 2017


'It could have been any of us': Bali nine member Michael Czugaj speaks out


A watch tower inside Bali's Kerobokan prison
A watch tower inside Bali's Kerobokan prison
Jakarta: It's hard to keep hope alive inside a crowded, sleepless, sweaty cell in a remote jail in East Java.

For Michael Czugaj, one of the youngest members of the Bali nine arrested 12 years ago for trafficking heroin, this week marks two difficult anniversaries, although he says no time of the year is easy and "time kind of gels into one".

April 29 is the second anniversary of the execution of fellow Bali nine members Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, who faced a firing squad singing "10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)" before their voices were drowned out by gunfire.

The pair became synonymous with rehabilitation before their deaths and galvanised opposition to the death penalty in Australia. They were leaders at Bali's Kerobokan jail, helping to run classes in art, cooking and religion, and counselling other prisoners.

"I had many dark periods over the years and they helped me … took me under their wing," 31-year-old Czugaj, who is serving a life sentence, tells Fairfax Media through a friend.

"I miss them. I want to live and I want to get home ... for them and for myself," says Czugaj, a former apprentice glazier and keen surfer from Brisbane.

"You don't deal with it, you get on with it. You do become desensitised in this environment. I have seen a lot of death and a lot of pain. No mercy … shackles, tied to a cross and shot dead. That could have been me … it could have been any of us."

Almost exactly a year after Sukumaran and Chan's execution, Czugaj was among 60 prisoners dramatically transferred from Kerobokan in the early hours of the morning to a small jail in Madiun, East Java.

The transfer took place under a cloud. Kerobokan prison authorities alleged at the time that Czugaj was moved because he was addicted to shabu shabu, the local name for the drug ice.

But Madiun prison's head of security later told AAP that documents stated the reason for the transfer was overcrowding and there had been no sign of Czugaj's drug use at Madiun prison.

Michael Czugaj was arrested 12 years ago for trafficking heroin.
Michael Czugaj was arrested 12 years ago for trafficking heroin.
"However the media had a field day at the time," Czugaj said. "It made me feel terrible. I withdrew into myself and didn't speak to anyone for months. I was paranoid."

Life in jail in Madiun is far tougher than Kerobokan, where Czugaj had a visitor nearly every day and time moved faster in the rehabilitation programs Chan and Sukumaran helped run.

Madiun is isolated - a five-hour drive from Surabaya, the capital of East Java.

Czugaj is lonely. He misses visitors and the occasional "good juicy burger".

"It sucks, it really sucks, OK? Everything costs money, nothing is free. You can't even have a visitor bring in smokes, everything has to be brought inside … the prison economy."

The media love to use the epithet "infamous" when describing Kerobokan jail. But Czugaj says it was a holiday camp compared to Madiun. "I have good days and bad days. It is hard to sleep as it is very hot and sometimes there are 15 to a room. The prison inmates consist of terrorists, mafia and murderers including [Islamic State], we are all mixed in together. There are some good guys here but it can get pretty intense."

Czugaj survives by exercising, reading - he loves the Game of Thrones series - and helping local prisoners with English lessons so they can find work when they leave jail. "I also work with supporting prisoners with drug rehabilitation."

When supplies are available he immerses himself in arts and craft: "I learned from another guy how to make a boat out of wood."

Despite his life sentence, Czugaj dreams of one day going home, wherever that is - he points out that he has been out of Australia for 12 years. "I wish I could surf again and live by the ocean. I would like to have a wife and a family and a normal life."

In the meantime he has a more modest goal: to be transferred back to a Bali jail. "I am desperate to get back to Bali but I understand this is not possible right now. I hope it is possible soon."

Meanwhile, there will be no special event to mark the anniversary of Chan and Sukumaran's executions at Kerobokan jail.

"It isn't something you want to remember," one inmate told prisoner David Fox, a former war correspondent jailed for possessing hashish.

"I can't exaggerate how their impact is still felt here," Fox says. "Almost every long-term prisoner has a picture in his cell with his arm around one or both of them. Their portraits hang in the rehab block and even the mention of their names is enough to make some inmates very emotional."

Melbourne pastor Christie Buckingham, who was Sukumaran's spiritual adviser on the night of the executions, has returned to Bali for the second year anniversary.

"I wanted to be in Bali this year - to be honest I just needed to be near people who understood," she says.

"Last year I felt very separated. I know how difficult prisoners found it. I wanted to be around this year for them."

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Jewel Topsfield, May 3, 2017


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