We shall shoot the Australians but you shouldn’t have beheaded one of ours: Indonesia

Indonesia’s hypocrisy about death sentence was not unknown to the world but Saudi Arabia’s execution of an Indonesian citizen this week and its subsequent summoning of the Saudi ambassador has exposed how delicate Australia’s neighbour can be when it comes to the life of one of its own.

Three consecutive Indonesian presidents, current and former, approached the Saudi government to request clemency for Siti Zaenab, Indonesian foreign minister told reporters on April 15. Abdulrahman Wahid, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Joko Widodo left no stone unturned, both through ‘diplomatic and informal channels’, to save their compatriot from the medieval-style execution that Saudi Arabia is infamous for, it’s been revealed.

death sentence
Three Indonesian presidents including Joko Widodo pleaded with Saudi Arabia to spare the life of Siti Zaenab, a fellow Indonesian.

The news comes in stark contrast with the way Joko Widodo has responded to numerous clemency requests for Bali Nine duo Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran from prime minister Tony Abbott and foreign minister Julie Bishop.

Australia’s repeated calls for mercy have so far been rebuffed by Jakarta as an attempt to interfere in its ‘internal affairs’.

Siti Zaenab was convicted of killing her employer Nourah binti Abdullah Duhem Al Maruba in 1999. She was working as a domestic worker for Nourah.

A Saudi court had sentenced her to death way back in 2001 but the execution could not be carried out for over one and half decades due to the fact that Nourah’s first child was not an adolescent at the time. According Saudi laws, victim’s family can decide whether or not to grant amnesty to a convicted prisoner. Therefore, Siti had to wait all these agonising years to find out if the victim’s son would eventually save her from the imminent beheading.

But Nourah’s son did not. Hence, the ‘mentally ill’ Indonesian was beheaded on April 14, reports said.

death sentence
Siti Zaenab: Beheaded by Saudi Arab despite Jakarta’s pleas.

Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno L. P. Marsudi complained that her country was informed of the execution only after it was carried out, antaranews.com reported on April 15.

Human rights groups within and beyond Indonesia are now calling on Jakarta to learn from the execution of one of its own citizens and take steps to end capital punishment in the country.

Imposing the death penalty and executing someone with a suspected mental illness smacks of a basic lack of humanity. This practice has been widely condemned on the world stage and Saudi Arabia should take this opportunity to reconsider its stance on the death penalty,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

Add Comment