Peter Greste is out of jail, out of Egypt, and back home. That is a triumph and a relief. His conviction and imprisonment was an absurdity and the campaign to free him an example of national solidarity at its best. Support for him was global, but Australians went the extra mile for one of their own citizens.
The same support has not been shown for the Bali Nine. Yes, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran committed a real crime, rather than a made-up one, but their punishment is also far greater than Greste’s.
Yesterday they were told the final appeal to save their lives would not be accepted by the Denpasar district court and they would be shot dead by an Indonesian firing squad. This is horrifying news.
This morning Tony Abbott said at a press conference that his government would not engage in “last-minute megaphone diplomacy” to save the pair. No one asked him why not, or what message this comment was sending to Indonesia. The PM said that he had left no stone unturned in his advocacy to save the pair. No one asked what has been done, or why Julie Bishop was not in Jakarta right now.
Why haven’t more Australians voiced their outrage and disgust that this sentence will be carried out? Are people held back from overt protests because they fear this may disadvantage the two? Or because they are chastened about a First World country protesting against the actions of a Third World one?
At this late stage, neither of those objections to a vocal campaign are sufficient. Nor is debate about the nature of their crimes pertinent.
We should not turn away from action because the situation is so bleak for Chan and Sukumaran. And nor should we give up hope. By campaigning against this state killing, we are also laying the ground for a campaign against the next.