OVER A MONTH HAS PASSED SINCE the executions of Australians Myuran Sukumaran & Andrew Chan. Better known as the Bali Nine ringleaders (named so after the Indonesian island on which they were arrested), they were convicted for their involvement in trafficking 8.3 kg of heroin, and were sentenced to death by a firing squad.
Now that the fallout is simmering, it’s time for Australians and the rest of the world to think seriously about what our response should be. Many have called for a boycott of Bali and Indonesia as a whole. Here are five reasons why that is a bad idea.
1. It’s inconsistent and hypocritical.
No country in the world is perfect. China, for example, has appalling labor conditions: Sweatshop workers there have publicly committed suicide rather than assemble another iPhone. Do we boycott China? The United States conducts regular, illegal covert drone strikes in the name of the war on terrorism. Do we boycott the USA? Even Australia, with stolen aboriginal generations and the white Australia policy, has its own chequered past. Should others boycott us?
2. This isn’t the work of an entire nation.
The Balinese are a beautiful and kind people, and the tourism industry is pivotal to the economy of Bali Your average Balinese resident had nothing to do with the executions, and yet would suffer disproportionately. The many should not be made to suffer for the actions of a few.
3. The Bali 9 broke the law.
Though capital punishment for a drug plot is outrageously excessive,
the Bali 9 did break the law. You need to respect and obey the laws governing the nation of Indonesia, or whatever country you happen to be visiting, or accept the consequences if you choose to break those laws.
4. The blame doesn’t lie solely on Indonesia’s shoulders.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) were tipped off as to what was going down. They knew that the death penalty was on the table. The AFP washed their hands, passed on the intel to Indonesian border patrol, sat back and watched the chips fall. The Federal Police Commissioner at the time of the arrests, Mick Keelty, was unrepentant about the AFP’s complicity.
There’s blood on the hands of Australians, but we find it easier to point the finger at the Indonesians and their hard line approach towards drug crime.
5. The boycott is not going to change anything.
What will boycotting Bali really achieve? Nothing, probably — Indonesia isn’t going to abolish the death penalty simply because of an Australian travel boycott. It would just be a temporary expression of rage, and then it would die down and people would start going to Bali again.
Amnesty International is asking Australia to get involved with ending the death penalty through an online submission to the government (you can support their efforts here), but that is done through diplomacy and engagement, not through arbitrary and unsustainable boycotts.
Former Foreign Minister Bob Carr said it best on ABC’s 7.30 program that any retaliatory action is likely to produce a “nationalistic backlash,” which could have long-term negative consequences. Instead, he said we needed to “lead Indonesians to the view that capital punishment does not work.”
Do not boycott Bali.