The Bali Nine

I know that there are appeals for clemency coming from different countries around the world for my two Australian friends. Australia is a powerful country even though it is small, and Australia has a big trade market with Indonesia. I know these things, because we have been here a long time, and we have talked a lot. Andrew had taught me to speak better English, and I have taught him Filipino. He is a clever man, so he has learned quicker, and has written this for me.

I hope that the president will listen to the appeals, because Andrew and My are good men. They did bad things, but they have been here for ten years, they have had too much time to think about what they did and how it hurt others, they have changed. They do so much good work in the prison, helping other prisoners, helping prisoners who have given up after hearing their death sentence passed. Andrew had become a pastor, he is a very good man. All bad men can become good, that is what all our religions tell us.

I did no wrong, but they don’t believe me. I told them that I am only a maid, I am travelling for a better job, a job that will give me money to look after my boys. I didn’t know what they were talking about when they stopped me and took me into a room, and then they arrested me because they said that I was smuggling drugs. I told them the truth but they would not believe me. It was like a nightmare that I couldn’t wake from. They told me that I would have a translator when we went to the court, but the translator could only translate into English, and my English was very poor – it still  isn’t good even after Andrew’s help. I didn’t really understand what was happening in the courtroom, it all seemed so fast. They made me stand for the sentence, and all I understood was the word dead. It didn’t seem real until I went back to the prison, and then I couldn’t stop crying. That’s when Andrew and My were so kind and calming. They told me that it would be a long time, that nobody was going to take me away and shoot me the next day. They told me that people would speak for me, that the truth would be told and I would be released.

After that the days carried on as before, and we never spoke of it. We were in the routine of the prison, it wasn’t nice but we had each other. We all became friends and we helped each other when there were sad days. Then one day they came and told us that we were going to be moved, moved to another prison camp. I knew from the reaction of the Australians that this was bad, but I didn’t know why. After the guards had gone Andrew sat down with me and told me quietly that we were being moved to the camp where we would be held until we were shot. He said that it meant that we didn’t have much time left. He was so calm, and so was My. All the others were crying and wailing, but then they calmed down too. We were moved the next day, and there were crowds of people outside when we got onto the prison buses. There were banners and posters protesting against the death sentence, asking for mercy. I knew that there were journalists from round the world who would tell our story. I knew that nobody from my country would say anything because I am only a maid, a nobody, and my country would support Indonesia. But people cared about the Australians, lots of people in Europe cared about them, even the French government asked for clemency according to Andrew. He said that now we had been moved it would happen in a few days, that there wasn’t long left.

The next day I heard that a woman had gone to the police and told them that I was speaking the truth, that she had put the drugs in my suitcase. My heart leapt; surely now they must believe me. I gathered my courage and asked one of the guards if he knew anything about it. He just shook his head, but he did look at me kindly. I didn’t hear any more. Two days later they told us that our families were coming for a last visit. We would see them for the very last time. It was nearly the end. I could not believe this was happening. Outside the prison camp there were more and more people coming – I didn’t know if they were coming to protest about us being shot or because they thought that we deserved to be shot.

I can tell you that nobody deserves to be shot. Andrew and My, as I said, are kind men who have served their punishment in prison over ten years. Poor Rodrigo doesn’t even know what is going on day by day. He has completely lost his mind, so it cannot be right to keep him in prison let alone to shoot him. All the others, who I don’t know as well, are kind people who have had so long in prison to understand the bad things that they have done, they should be allowed back to their own countries now, perhaps spend a bit longer in prisons there.

My family have come now, with both my boys. I am trying to be strong, not to cry, but I can’t help it. These are my boys, flesh of my flesh, my beautiful boys who have suckled at my breasts, and are now growing big and strong. They are still so young though, only six and twelve years. How will they manage without a mother? Who will work to bring them money to live properly? All I can do is hug them, just keep hugging them tightly to me. I must try not to cry, I don’t want them to remember their mother crying, weeping, out of control. They must remember me calm, smiling, dignified. Too soon the guards come to take them away, and I am alone.

The darkness falls and there are no messages. Andrew and My are still strong for all of us, calm, quiet. I know that they must be hoping for a message too, but nothing comes. This feels unreal. We are all so alive, so vital, with so much to do, but in a few hours we will all be dead. How can this be possible? I am frightened, but Andrew tells me to be strong. He tells me that nothing will hurt, that we will be tied to a post and we will know nothing. I hope that he is right, I want to believe him, but I am so frightened. I can’t stop thinking about it, how it will be. I can’t imagine that it will happen, but I know it will. Then the door opens and I know they are coming to get us. There is no more time now, no chance that a message will come to say that they have changed their minds. We all know. It is calm and quiet, almost a relief that the waiting is over. One by one we stand up and line up by the door. All the men go first and I am at the end of the line. As they walk slowly out one of the guards comes over to me and takes my arm. ‘Not you’ he says. I don’t understand. Am I to be taken to a different place to be shot? ‘I go with my friends’ I say. ‘No’. He pulls me gently to the other side of the room, and out of the door. I am very frightened now, I want to be with Andrew and My, they will give me courage. ‘Please’ I try to make him listen, ‘please, I die with my friends.’

We are in a different room now, I haven’t been here before. He stops and looks at me. ‘You do not die tonight’ he said. ‘You wait and perhaps you do not die at all.’ I could not take this in. Is it possible that I have been spared just at the time the others have gone to die? Is this a cruel trick? It may be.

The next day I am taken back to the prison that we were all in before. I am still on death row, but they have told me that I will have to go to court again to answer questions and say what happened. My family is happy, everyone is happy, but I dare not be happy. My friends are all dead, and after I have been to court they may still tell me that I must die.

I was ready to die with my friends. I will be happy to live, but I am scared that I will have to do all this again and then still die. I do not want to die alone.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s