Call for mercy continues

Mary Jane Veloso

These haunting words encapsulate a heartening call to action.

The widespread community campaigns advocating for the lives of Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran have captured public attention and put a spotlight on the death penalty like nothing in recent memory.

While the outpouring of grief at such a senseless and highly politicised act of judicial murder continues, there is perhaps some consolation. A kernel of hope that these, from all reports, reformed and wholly decent young men have not been lost to the world in vain. That a significant portion of the community has been moved to act and speak out and campaign against use of the death penalty.

Hope also remains for the one individual held by Indonesian authorities fortunate enough to receive a last minute presidential reprieve, quite literally at the eleventh hour.

Along with partner Church the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, the Uniting Church joined a chorus of organisations advocating on behalf of all nine inmates including Filipino national Mary Jane Veloso (pictured) who received the stay of execution.

The Uniting Church specifically requested the Indonesian government meet its obligations under the United Nations Commission for Human Rights Palermo Protocol. Article 6 of the protocol calls on states to provide for the physical safety of victims of human trafficking.

“Mary Jane Veloso should be afforded state protections, including that of her life,” former Moderator Isabel Thomas Dobson wrote in correspondence to the Indonesian government.

“We humbly ask for the mercy for the prisoners on death row and call on you to establish a moratorium on all executions with a view to permanently abolishing the death penalty.”

The deaths of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, for many, prove unequivocally that continued use of the death penalty is a blight and tarnishes those who support it, and those who fail to speak out against it.

With the provisional reprieve of Mary Jane Veloso’s execution there is hope that many will continue to collectively work towards abolishing the death penalty wherever it occurs.

For more information on the mercy campaign visit mercycampaign.org.

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