(Photos: Finbar O’Mallon)
In letters read at vigils around Australia last night, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan thanked the public for their support, with Sukumaran saying, “Whatever happens, I know that me and Andrew are good people now”.
Hundreds of people braved the rain at Federation Square in Melbourne last night, where artist Matthew Sleeth, Supreme Court Justice Lex Lasry and journalist Mark Davis addressed the crowd, calling for “ampuni”, which is the most formal way to ask for mercy in Indonesia. Vigils were held around Australia last night, including in Sydney and Perth. MC Eddie Perfect opened the proceedings in Melbourne by saying that the vigil would not be passive, but an active way to show Sukumaran and Chan that they weren’t alone.
Sleeth and Perfect read out letters from Chan and Sukumaran, who both said they had been “blessed” despite the sentence. Chan called for people to remember the spirit of the campaign. “This campaign is about more than myself and Myu. It represents a second chance and forgiveness, kindness and help for those in a helpless situation. Mercy represents all of us here. Please don’t let this just be about myself and Myu but about others all over the world who need your help. ”
Sukumaran said the campaign made them determined to be better people.
“It has helped our families so much. It makes us even more determined to be better people and to do more to help people, to show more kindness like that which everyone has given us, especially our families.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Greens leader Christine Milne attended the vigil in Melbourne, which included musical performances by Clare Bowditch, Bob Evans and Missy Higgins. Higgins, who gave birth to her first child last month, dedicated her song “Forgive me” to the mothers of Chan and Sukumaran.
Supreme Court Justice Lex Lasry emphasised the ways in which the men had changed in ten years in prison.
“The reality is that if Indonesia go ahead and execute these two men, they’ll be killing an artist and a church pastor. The drug traffickers have gone. The drug traffickers left in 2005.”
Sleeth spoke about the ways in which Sukuamran and Chan had contributed to life in Kerobokan prison, comparing the productivity of the art studio they established in the prison to a TAFE.
“If these executions go ahead we will all be diminished, both Australians and Indonesians,” he said.
Matthew Goldberg from the Mercy Campaign told the crowd that the online petition asking for clemency for the pair had now grown to 200,000 signatures.
The crowd included many families and children, with one toddler wearing a bib that said “keep hope alive”. One attendee told Crikey that she attended out of a sense of justice, and while others said the vigil gave them a sense of hope as well as sadness.