The general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit has sent a letter to the President of the Republic of Indonesia H. E. Joko Widodo appealing for clemency for the 10 death row prisoners scheduled for imminent execution in Indonesia.
This letter follows similar appeals made by many in the ecumenical movement, including appeals by Bishop Ketut Waspada of the Christian Protestant Church in Bali (GKPB), a member of the WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA).
In his letter today, the WCC general secretary asks the Indonesian president to establish an immediate moratorium on all executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty and joining the emerging global consensus against this most extreme criminal sanction. Tveit observed that: “Your country’s decision to resume executions sets Indonesia against the global trend towards abolition of the death penalty.”
Some 140 countries have now abolished the death penalty completely in law or practice. The death penalty was abolished in Indonesia in 2008 but was re-established in 2013. In January 2015, five foreign nationals and an Indonesian were executed for drug trafficking.
“I join the many others around the world who have appealed to you for clemency for the death row prisoners scheduled to be executed imminently: Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran, Raheem Agbaje Salami, Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, Zainal Abidin, Martin Anderson (alias Belo), Rodrigo Gularte, Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise (alias Mustafa), Okwudili Oyatanze, and Serge Areski Atlaoui, said Tveit. “Despite the crimes of which they have been convicted, these sisters and brothers are all children of God, created in God’s own image.”
In his earlier appeal, Bishop Waspada said: “With the death penalty, we put God's authority into question and take away people's chance to change their lives.” Bishop Waspada has been personally ministering to some of the death row prisoners, and testifies to their repentance, reform and conversion.
“Let us ask ourselves deep in our hearts: do we, as human being, really have the authority to take the lives of other people? I think only God has the authority to continue or to end the lives of His creations,” stated Bishop Waspada.