Amrozi execution gets Rudd's gloat


The execution of the Bali bombers is imminent.

Because Australians suffered from their actions more than any other nation, the world will be watching to see how we react.

We can choose to cheer from a distance, applauding the indignity they suffer as they get what the Indonesian justice system believes they deserve. Or we can either protest, or help to neutralise the symbolism of the execution by remaining silent.

In Eureka Street last month, Frank Brennan regretted that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had already encouraged Australians to have the 'last gloat'. Rudd said:

'The Bali bombers are cowards and murderers pure and simple, and frankly they can make whatever threats they like. They deserve the justice that we delivered to them.'

The 'eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth' sense of justice behind this statement recalls that of President George W. Bush's resolve in his Address to the Nation on September 11, 2001:

'The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I've directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice.'

The Muslim world in particular will interpret our gloating at the deaths of Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra, as Australia's endorsement of the Bush Doctrine in its dying days.

President Bush and American foreign policy were guided by the pessimistic and arguably misguided thinking of individuals such as Samuel P. Huntington, who is best known for his influential Foreign Affairs journal article 'The Clash of Civilisations'.

This attitude was fueled by officially-sanctioned fear, which is conceivably responsible for putting the human and financial fortunes of America into a downward spiral.

Periods of increased anxiety prompt hopeful human beings to search for answers, and make them open to hearing good news. If there's one of the two presidential candidates with genuinely good news, it has to be Barack Obama. Last week he defined hope in his Closing Argument Speech in Canton, Ohio:

'Hope is — that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better is waiting around the bend.'

Getting ahead is not about knocking the perceived enemy on the head and gloating. Rather it's thinking things through while believing in the art of the possible. Reducing crime is best accomplished not through harsh legislation, but rather working at expanding health and other social services for low-income earners while leading them to the realisation that crime does not pay.

The capture of Bin Laden, or the shooting dead of a top Al Quada operative, is not the good news that America needs, just as the execution of the Bali bombers is hardly good news for Australia. Instead the verifiable fact that the vast majority of the world's Muslims have no hostile intent towards the rest of us is the good news that we must hear from our leaders.

Michael MullinsMichael Mullins is editor of Eureka Street.


Topic tags: michael mullins, bali bombers, firing squad, amrozi, eye for an eye, septermber 11



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Existing comments

We are appalled at the astounding and inhumane stance of the PM, Kevin Rudd, at the imminent execution of the "Bali Bombers". Capital punishment fails to discourage murder. The last paragraph of this article should be imprinted on the minds of all Australians.
Through Rudd's populist, publicly expressed and applauded notion of "deserved justice," we are all diminished both individually and as a nation. Certainly,the Bali Bombers should be punished, probably by life imprisonment but the taking of their lives is as uncivilised an action as was theirs. Our noble pathway in the whole of this episode would be to show clemency to the Bali Bombers and by that attitude, to demonstrate just how civilised and mature a nation, Australia really is.
Trevor and Janice KNIGHT | 03 November 2008

Don't we need to consider that the bombers were possibly, or even likely to have been, part of a "false flag" operation? In other they were set up.

richard telfer | 03 November 2008

You are so right Michael. The execution of the Bali bombersn will diminish us all. Already the preparations have produced fear and uncertainty in Indonesia. Capital punishment is not the application of justice but simply cruel and inhuman punishment.

I had so much hope in Kevin Rudd and am so disappointed in his reverting to the populist notions of John Howard. How can we claim to be a nation that opposes the death penalty when we only proclaim it if and when it suits our purposes and concerns the lives of Australians?
Carmel Cowan | 03 November 2008

I'm sorry RICHARD TELFER, I don't understand what you are trying to say here above. 'False flag' is new terminology to me. Please explain.
David | 03 November 2008

Nor do I understand RICHARD TELFER what you mean when you write: "In other they were set up." Please explain.
DAVIE X | 03 November 2008

In Kevin Rudd's lamentable statement are we seeing yet another career politician look after his career first by verbalising what he thinks is in the mind of the swinging voter? If so, has Rudd acquiesced to fear, fear that the swinging voter will finish him as Prime Minister? Could it be that Rudd is then, when it comes to the matter of his and his colleagues political longevity, at heart a fearist? If so, then it is precisely this fear at the heart of career politics that any 'thinking terrorist' will prey on. Where oh where is the career politician willing to put his/her career truly and consistently in the service of what is the compassionate and considered thing to do and say?
Andrew McAlister | 03 November 2008

'Because Australians suffered from their actions more than any other nation, the world will be watching to see how we react'. Could this unfortunate oversight of the far greater number of Indonesians who suffered please be swiftly corrected. Doubly unfortunate in a rare and otherwise eloquent Catholic defence of the right to life and of the futility of vengeance.

Carmel Maguire | 03 November 2008

I hold nothing but contempt for the "American" policies in the Middle and Near East and I think that people like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld also should be liable to capital punishment for their crimes against humanity and conspiracies against peace.
This does not mean however that those Islamic criminals like Amrozi deserve to be spared. If such criminals were to be spared, would any sort of punishment for other criminals and offenders be justifiable?
Yes, quite possibly Mr Rudd should have rather held his mouth a bit tighter on the issue, but the fact that the "majority" of Muslims in the world are said to be well disposed towards us - who counted them? - does not mean that criminals should walk free or be given comfortable living behind bars.

Michael Monikowski | 03 November 2008

I do not condone the Bali bombings and Indonesia is a sovereign state with its own laws. However as a firm opponent of capital punishment I believe that 'an eye for an eye' solves nothing and in fact puts us in the same bracket as the bombers albeit as legalised killers. I will not gloat; I will weep for humanity and for Australia.
Jo Elliott | 03 November 2008

"we can either protest, or help to neutralise the symbolism of the execution by remaining silent". I choose both. "An eye for an eye is not a Christian concept". Life is too precious even for evildoers to be punished like this, but I will keep silent and in some small way try to 'neutralise the senseless symbolism' of doing with full and deliberate consciousness the same barbaric thing they did without remorse.
M.McKenzie | 03 November 2008

thank you for this comment. I have been filled with grief at the Australian support for the executions. Surely any and all life is to be valued. It is this message that we accept for Australians and should accept as valid for all people.
mary sheehan | 03 November 2008

Revenge is wrong. By gloating over the execution of the Bali Bombers we lower ourselves in dignity, and fail to live our Christian calling to love and forgive. 'Father forgive them for they know not what they do'. I am disappointed that Kevin Rudd has lost this opportunity, just as did George Bush on September 11th, 2001. In fact, I am ashamed.
Colleen Foley | 03 November 2008

We all know the "justice" that Bush was talking about bringing the terrorists to: Guantanamo Bay justice. Presumably Rudd was talking about Indonesian justice when he expressed satisfaction about the justice that we 'delivered' Amrozi and co to, namely capital punishment. This is astounding coming from a Labour PM whose party is against capital punishment, at least for Australians. It seems he thinks Indonesians are not on the same level as us. His outburst is an expression of hate which we can well do without, regardless of the politics or religion of those to whom it is directed. Australia should be espousing a justice which protects life, whether it is the life of a criminal, a child in the womb, or a critically ill person.
Tony santospirito | 03 November 2008

Michael I hope you have drawn the PM's attention to your article and the secular press also. It is quite shameful and inflammatory to say these words (not you, but the PM). Thanks you for your reasoned article.
Rosemary Keenan WA
Rosemary Keenan | 03 November 2008

Rudd is quite right, and logical. Executing murderers is surely an affirmation and enhancement of human dignity rather than a diminution of it.
They earned it; they are entitled to it. QED
Hugh Laracy | 04 November 2008

Hear, Hear! For a country that does not support the death penalty, we look hypocritical when our leader encourages gloating behaviour. What outcome are we hoping to achieve? What's done is done! Now we may be waiting for the next round. Are we a Christian country? Are we a multi-religious country? How many spiritual leaders or prophets would encourage us to gloat? Jesus certainly would not have nor the Buddah!
Julia Crook | 04 November 2008

Thank you for writing this article. Only today I was discussing the general attitude of people surrounding this case and have been horrified.
One wonders if the situation in Indonesia will be a precursor for other executions. And if they will be the Australians. How will people respond then?
I feel deeply sorrowful, 'an eye for eye'.

Denyse Roberts | 04 November 2008

The actions of the Bali bombers was a criminal act deserving life sentences without parole or release. By executing them , we reduce ourselves to same level as these criminals and make martyrs out of them. Martyrdom is what the Bali bombers seek.

Terry Stavridis | 07 November 2008

The sad reality is that according to a recent poll, 70% of Australians are in favour of the death penalty (admittedly this was poll taken in the context of the presently-planned judicial killing). I expect better leadership from a Christian Prime Minister.
Peter Downie | 07 November 2008

I am appalled at PM Rudd's 'gloat'.

This will certainly not help Australian efforts to save Australian citizens from the death penalty in other countries, as the double standards are palpable.

I take this opportunity to speak out against the death penalty in all circumstances.

Kevin Luxford | 07 November 2008

Thank you, Michael for this article. I agree with most of what others have written, but especially Carmel Maguire's words. Having been in Indonesia at the time of the Bali bombing, though in Java. I know that many Indonesians suffered greatly. Many Balinese suffered directly, loss of life and horrific injuries, not to mention loss of livelihood for years. However, many more Indonesians,not in Bali, suffered also. I hope this is never forgotten.
Maryrose Dennehy | 07 November 2008

State sanctioned murder is still murder
Bernadette | 07 November 2008

No Christian can use the death penalty as a moral stand for justice.
Vacy Vlazna | 07 November 2008

Rudd is a good Christian. Bush is a good Christian. Kill 'em all.
trevor | 08 November 2008

Don't forget about the Bali 9, I hope that Australian people realize that they also waiting for the death execution in Indonesia. In that case maybe there will be a different view about the death execution....
Robert | 09 November 2008

Australians who are still grieving after the bombings in Bali may feel some relief at the news of the executions of these deluded men, but their deaths will not bring their victims back. The relief will be temporary.
The same holds for those Balinese who are also still grieving.
The particular problem with these killers was that, so long as they were alive in a prison in Indonesia, they had the support of each other, they had the adulation of Islamists, and their status as celebrities remained unchallenged.
Now that they have been executed, it is less likely that the protestations of our leaders, with their displays of shallow morality, will spare the lives of other deluded people such as Scott Rush.
I understand that Rush et al were initially apprehended only after the Australian Federal Police were asked to stop Rush doing something foolish by his family; to that extent, the AFP has betrayed all Australia by contributing to the death of an Australian citizen.
All these problems could have been solved by a little imaginative thinking. Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra could have been exiled to three different Australian prisons. They would thus have been separated from each other, from their supporters, and their utterances would no longer be accessible by Indonesian media. They would have come to appreciate the pointlessness of their actions. The Islamist cause in Indonesia would not have its martyrs, and Australia’s credibility as an opponent of the death penalty in the case of the Bali Nine would have been maintained.

David Arthur | 10 November 2008

Australians are against the death penalty at all, it seems. Not our Prime Minister. How could he use that word 'gloat' when we are trying, or supposed to be trying, to bring Indonesia over to our side? The side that says, 'Thou shalt not kill'.
marie gordon | 14 November 2008

There have been rumours that the Bali bombing was a "flag flag" operation. If this was the case, then there may have been nutters in the intelligence community who decided to "take the heat off" Indonesia over the Bali bombing (e.g. counter the rabid Australian press). A way to do this would be set up Corby and the Bali 9 in controlled operations.
RICHARD TELFER | 18 June 2011

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