Indonesia in 'human tsunami' threat
A senior Indonesian official has warned Australia to tone down its criticism of the planned executions of two convicted Australian drug traffickers, saying that Canberra should be grateful to Indonesia for keeping asylum seekers away from Australian shores.
The minister for political, legal and security affairs, Tedjo Edy Purdjianto, said that if about 10,000 migrants who have been stopped in Indonesia from reaching Australia were allowed to proceed, "there will be a human tsunami in Australia".
He criticised Australia's continuing pressure on Indonesia to spare the lives of the two men facing firing squads along with eight other convicts - seven foreigners and an Indonesian.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott responded by saying he is not picking fights with anyone.
He said he understood that Indonesian officials wanted to crack down on drug crime in the country.
"But these two individuals, because they're reformed, have now become an asset in Indonesia's fight against drug crime, and that's why I think it would be counterproductive to execute them," Mr Abbott said.
Australians Andrew Chan, 31, and Myuran Sukumaran, 33, were flown last week from a prison on the resort island of Bali to the Nusakambangan Island prison off the main island of Java, where executions are carried out. The firing squads will execute the 10 simultaneously in pairs, so the execution date will not be set until all of them have exhausted legal appeals.
Chan and Sukumaran led an Australian smuggling group dubbed the Bali Nine. They were arrested in 2005 after a tip-off from Australian police while trying to smuggle heroin from Bali to Sydney. The rest were sentenced to prison terms.
In their final attempt to avoid executions, lawyers for the pair appealed to the High Administrative Court, which was scheduled to rule on the case on Thursday. They argued that president Jokowi Widodo's refusal of clemency did not provide proper and individual consideration to their applications. A Jakarta court dismissed the appeal earlier, ruling that clemency is a prerogative of the president.
Also, on Wednesday, the Grand Mufti of Australia Ibrahim Abu Mohamed met with Indonesia's Minister of Religious Affairs Lukman Hakim Saifuddin and other Islamic figures to plea "with respect and humility for mercy for the lives of two young Australians".
Indonesia executed six drug convicts including foreigners in January, drawing protests from Brazil and the Netherlands, which withdrew their ambassadors after their citizens were denied clemency appeals. More than 130 people are on death row, including 57 drug convicts.