Australia-Indonesia relations strained after executions

Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran and six other men are executed by firing squad, as Filipina Mary Jane Velosa wins a last-minute reprieve

The families of Bali nine pair Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan have received the news they were dreading after they were forced to say their final farewells on Tuesday afternoon.

Indonesia has reportedly executed two Australians who had been convicted of drug charges, in a sentence that was was carried out despite global pleas to spare the duo from a firing squad.

But they rebuffed last-minute appeals from Australia to save the lives of Sukumaran and Chan, who were arrested in 2005 as the ringleaders of a plot to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia.

Chan, 31, and Sukumaran, 34, are the first Australians to be executed since December 2, 2005, when 25-year-old Melbourne man Van Tuong Nguyen was hanged in Singapore after being caught at Changi Airport with almost 400g of heroin.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were two of the Bali nine members, and are facing execution within days.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were two of the Bali nine members, and are facing execution within days.

Indonesian authorities on Monday granted Australian Chan’s final wish, which was to marry his Indonesian girlfriend at the prison.

Talking to the press, Indonesian Attorney General Office official said: “We’ve carried out the executions,”, The Jakarta Post reported. A Cilacap police officer told: “The executions went well, without any disruptions.”Prayers were said for each of the eight, according to their respective religion, after the executions.

The others executed were Indonesian Zainal Abidin, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, Nigerians Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Raheem Agbaje Salami and Okwudili Oyatanze, and Ghanaian Martin Anderson.

One Filipino woman received a last-minute reprieve.

Hundreds of people began gathering in cities across Australia for vigils for Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, holding placards and calling for Australia to respond strongly to its neighbour if the executions proceed.

Australia vows ‘consequences’ against Indonesia

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told ABC television earlier: “Should these executions proceed in the manner that I anticipate, of course, there will have to be consequences.”

Australia-Indonesia relations have been tested in recent years by disputes over people smuggling and spying. In late 2013 Indonesia recalled its envoy and froze military and intelligence cooperation over reports that Canberra had spied on top Indonesian officials, including the former president’s wife.

Indonesia has harsh punishments for drug crimes and resumed executions in 2013 after a five-year gap. Six people have been executed so far this year.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s steadfastness on the executions, which have strong public support at home, stands in contrast to a series of policy flip-flops since he took office six months ago.

The pending executions have strained Indonesia’s relations with Australia, Nigeria and Brazil, which will likely worsen after the death sentences are carried out.

UN and Amnesty International condemns executions

The proposed death penalties were condemned by the United Nations, and have strained ties between Australia and Indonesia in particular.

Hours before the expected executions, crowds gathered in cities across Australia to hold vigils for Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, holding placards and calling for Australia to respond strongly to its neighbour if the executions proceed. Chan and Sukumaran were thought to be the ringleaders of the Bali Nine, a group of Australian drug smugglers arrested in 2005 at an airport on the Indonesian island of Bali for trying to smuggle 8 kg of heroin into Australia.

Amnesty International has issued a statement on what it calls the “theatre of cruelty” played out tonight.

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said:

The world has watched on as this theatre of cruelty played out, with this most tragic of endings. It did not have to come to this. The death penalty is never the answer.

Australian Labor leader: ‘Indonesia’s actions demand a strong response’

Australia’s opposition leader Bill Shorten and shadow foreign affairs minister Tanya Plibersek have issued a strong statement condemning the executions.

Here is their full statement:

Our best hopes have been dashed and our worst fears realised.

Labor condemns the execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in the strongest possible terms. We extend our heartfelt condolences to all who mourn the loss of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.