Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed by firing squad at 12.35am local time (3.35am Australian time) today, along with six others. In response to the deaths of the convicted drug smugglers, the Prime Minister has announced that Australia’s ambassador has been withdrawn from Indonesia.

The Chan and Sukumaran families have released a statement paying tribute to their sons and thanking people for their support:

“Today we lost Myuran and Andrew. Our sons, our brothers. In the ten years since they were arrested, they did all they could to make amends, helping many others. They asked for mercy, but there was none. They were immensely grateful for all the support they received. We too, will be forever grateful.”

Australian lawyer Peter Morrissey told the ABC: “It’s awful, I know, but the two boys died well. You know, they made their preparations, they were dignified, they’re strong against the death penalty,they’re supportive of their families. They tasted how awful this would be.”

Michael Chan, older brother of Andrew, tweeted after the executions: “I have just lost a Courageous brother to a flawed Indonesian legal system. I miss you already RIP my Little Brother”. Todung Mulya Lubis, one of the men’s legal team,  tweeted “I failed. I lost.” and “I am sorry”.

Six other men, five of them foreign nationals, were also executed alongside the Australians. Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipino woman who was also due to be executed, was spared at the 11th hour, after her recruiter reportedly handed herself in to authorities in the Philippines. Veloso was convicted for smuggling heroin in 2010, but has always maintained that she was innocent and carrying the drugs unwittingly.

Ambulances carrying the coffins of the dead have travelled from Nusakambangan to Cilacap this morning.

The ABC has reported Australia’s Consul-General to Bali Majell Hind has left Cilacap.

Australia will withdraw its ambassador to Indonesia, Paul Grigson, by the end of the week. Tony Abbott described the executions as “both cruel and unnecessary”. In a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, the PM said that removing Australia’s ambassador was unprecedented. “I don’t want to minimise the gravity of what we’ve done. Ministerial contacts have been suspended for some time once it became apparent that the executions were likely, ministerial contacts were suspended, and they will remain suspended for a period.”

Abbott said: “I absolutely understand people’s anger. Yes, the drug trade is evil, and these two committed a serious crime. But particularly given the last 10 years and the very thorough rehabilitation and reform that these two demonstrated, it is, as I said, cruel and unnecessary what has taken place. So I absolutely understand people’s anger.”

Greens Leader Christine Milne voiced her support for the Prime Minister’s decision to withdraw the Australian ambassador from Indonesia:

“In terms of the relationship between Australia and Indonesia, there is no doubt in my mind that for the majority of Australians, the presidency of Mr Widodo is going to be defined by the fact that he proceeded with these executions, that he did not extend the clemency that was asked for by our PM, by our Foreign Minister, by all of us in the Parliament who stood together and asked that clemency be granted.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has also supported the decision but warned Australians that they shouldn’t take out their anger on individual Indonesian people. “There’s ordinary Indonesians, there’s ordinary Balinese, I’m not sure that they should be the aim of our frustration here. I think our frustration’s with their legal system and also with the fact that these executions have taken place,” he said on a Melbourne radio station.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon told ABC News 24 that the opinions of Australians have greatly shifted over the last decade: “I think today there are millions of Australians who are genuinely mourning their deaths and it just seems so unnecessary.”

Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer has tweeted a press release announcing that he will introduce a private member’s bill to prevent the executions of Australians overseas:

“The Foreign Death Penalty Offences (Preventing Information Disclosure) Bill 2015 proposed by Mr Palmer is a Bill for an Act to prevent the disclosure of information by public officials in circumstances that may lead to the imposition of the death penalty in foreign countries.”

Palmer said “if the Australian Federal Police are aware of Australians involved in a capital punishment crime committed in a foreign country, then they should not be allowed to provide information which could expedite the death penalty”. Bishop was asked about the conduct of the AFP at this morning’s press conference but said today was not a day to point fingers. “The involvement of the Australian Federal Police was reviewed a number of years ago and changes were made. We are satisfied that the changes that are in place were appropriate, but I don’t believe today is the time to look for recriminations.”

The Mercy Campaign has updated its website to include only a photo of Chan and Sukumaran, the names of the eight men killed and a quote from Chan:

“This campaign is more than just about myself or Myu. It represents a second chance and forgiveness, it represents kindness and help for those in a helpless situation. Mercy represents all of us here.

“I would like you to take a moment and reflect just on the word mercy. Please don’t let this just be about myself and Myu, but about others all over the world who need your help.”

University of Melbourne Professor Richard Tanter told The Mandarin journalist David Donaldson the executions would “poison” Australia’s relationship with Indonesia: “We have a very bad relationship with Indonesia. It’s thin, uneven, volatile, asymmetrical. The relationship consists of government to government and military to military links, but not many business ties, and not many social connections other than with Bali,” said Tanter.

“When this is freighted with so many other issues — corruption, lack of transparency, double standards, this is going to be something that lays on the relationship with Indonesia more than anything in the past, other than East Timor.”

Peter Fray

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