This morning I woke to the news that Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran and six others had been executed in Indonesia.
I felt incredibly numb. And incredulous.
I could’t even begin to imagine the pain felt by their families.
I found myself wondering what must go through the minds of those involved and particularly those charged with pulling the trigger, flicking the switch, or injecting a lethal dose. Do they go numb themselves? Do they ever stop seeing the eyes of their victims in their dreams? Do they dehumanise the victim so that they can go through with the act of deliberated murder? Is their justification that they are ‘just following orders’? Does the justifying narrative they have woven for themselves hold up as the human being before them is blown apart? Do they end up suffering from PTSD?
The thing I find most disturbing about execution is the calculated nature of the exercise. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of Indonesian officials have spent years caught up in the relentless journey to this day. It has been done according to the Rule of Law. Done by the book. Due process has been followed. Appeals heard. Clemency sought and denied. Ten years of focussed activity. State-sanctioned murder is an inhumane activity hidden beneath layers of civil order and procedure.
I am mindful of the fact that the people responsible are ordinary people just like me.
At present we are in the Easter Season, the season that proclaims that all that is death-dealing will be transformed by God who is life and love. As people of the resurrection we are called to be agents of God on earth.
So as the day has progressed I have found myself climbing out of the numbness of the early day towards an increased determination to work for a world characterised by love and justice. I have reminded myself that when Amnesty International began campaigning against the death penalty thirty years ago less than twenty nations had abandoned the death penalty. Today over 100 nations have abolished it. So in response to the state-sanctioned murder of the eight people in Indonesia I rededicate myself to continuing this important work.