13.02.15 | News, Press Reports

Bishop of the Balinese Church Pleas for Pardon for Two Australians

Open Letter of Bishop Waspada to Indonesian President Widodo

"Only God has the power to preserve or terminate the life of his creations. Our lives are in God's hands." In an open letter to the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, Bishop Ketut Waspada of the Christian Protestant Church in Bali (GKPB) spoke out against the pending execution of two Australian drug smugglers. "With the death penalty, we put God's authority into question and take away people's chance to change their lives." The death penalty was abolished in Indonesia in 2008 but was re-established in 2013. In January, five foreign nationals and an Indonesian were executed for drug trafficking.

In his letter, Bishop Waspada stands up for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran who attempted to smuggle eight kilograms of heroin form Bali to Australia in 2005. They were sentenced to death as the ringleaders of the group called the Bali Nine. At the end of January, President Widodo refused a plea for mercy despite massive international protests. In view of the estimated 4.5 million drug addicts in Indonesia, Widodo wants to show that he is doing something to stem the drug crisis. In prison, Andrew Chan found his faith in Jesus Christ. The two condemned men supported others in prison and gave lessons among other things.

The GKPB is one of the nine Indonesian member churches of the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS). Their members have pinned great hopes in Widodo - as have many Christians in the largest Muslim country in the world - as he stands for the consolidation of democracy, religious tolerance, a fairer distribution of the growing wealth and systematic reforms of the corrupt bureaucracy.

Bishop Waspada, Chairman of the Inter-Church Council of the Province of Bali, asked in his open letter, "If we really think about our young generation and we do not want them to destroy their lives by drug abuse, why don't we use a person like Andrew Chan to convince young people of the dangers of drugs? His testimony would certainly bear more weight than the words of a scientist or a priest."