Comedian, author and activist Russell Brand has called for support for the two Bali Nine Australians currently facing execution in Indonesia.
In his latest episode of political web series The Trews, Brand explains that Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were caught smuggling heroine through Bali and jailed for 10 years before being sentenced to death.
He says the men have been rehabilitated and deserve the right to live, calling for people to sign petitions and boycott the decision handed down by Indonesian courts earlier this year.
“If you consider prison to have a function, and people say that it does, it’s about rehabilitation, it’s about serving your time. Then, to execute these two seems particularly cruel ‘cause both Andrew and Myuran have demonstrably changed since they’ve been in prison,” he says.
In the time they have spent in Indonesia prison, Chan has become involved with worship services and spiritually focused rehabilitation programs within the prison. Sukumaran, on the other hand, has become an artist, running programs for other people in the prison. There’s even an exclusive exhibition of his work in Amnesty International’s London offices throughout April.
In the days before releasing this video, Brand took to Twitter to share a campaign to stop the executions, as well as a link to Sukumaran’s art exhibition, encouraging his followers to support them.
“As a recovering drug addict and someone who believes in rehabilitation and the possibility of change, I was affected by the plight of these two men facing death for making a mistake,” he says.
Brand believes these two Australians are being executed “to make a point”.
“It’s a gesture, it’s an empty gesture. It’s a mask and a veil that conceals the corruption of Indonesia and the true nature of international drug smuggling,” he says.
Brand’s criticism of the planned executions joins the voices of many others, including Amnesty International – which has set up a petition against the executions – Mercy Campaign, and even the Indonesian Institute of Criminal Justice Reform, which has recently reported that many of the people condemned to death have not been given a fair trial.
But with 9.43 million followers on Twitter, 3.3 million Facebook page followers and over a million YouTube subscribers, Brand’s video about these two Australians brings even more awareness to their plight, as well as the issues around it and what people can do to show their support.