Like many of you, I woke up with a hurting heart this morning, having had a fitful sleep filled with strange dreams. On waking I read the reports coming out of Indonesia about the execution of Myuran and Andrew. I am trying really hard to make sense of it. I knew I had to write something about the whole travesty, but I struggled trying to put into words, what was going on in my head.

And then I got an email from a reader, and with her permission, I am honoured to be able to publish her words. Her message is what I am trying to say. She just says it better than me. 

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My heart is heavy with the sadness for the lives taken overnight when the death penalty was finally carried out in Indonesia. It goes without saying that these men all knew the risks and most likely believed that they would be the ones not caught. They chose to roll the dice and gamble that they would get away with it. They didn’t they and many others got caught, they have spent 10 years in jail for those crimes.

During those 10 years they by all accounts have turned their lives around and become not only model prisoners but better people generally than many people living and walking the streets every day. It can be argued that they have only turned their lives around because they got caught, this may very well be true but the point is they took the last 10 years and chose to make better choices and prove to their loved ones that they are right to love them and support them.

The appeals for clemency that have been desperately made for these men have fallen on deaf ears for whatever reason. It needs to be remembered that at no point were these men asking to be let out of jail they were simply asking that they be allowed to live out their days in a jail in a third world country. That doesn’t sound particularly nice to me. It doesn’t sound like the picturesque tropical island holiday that people imagine, it really sounds only one step up from hell. Sure, they would be alive and sure they could continue their good works and rehabilitation of other prisoners giving other people hope for a future but they are still little by little dying on the inside in a third world jail.

Why do I care so much about second chances and redemption? Recently, I had a significant breakdown that resulted in me being hospitalised for nearly two months and have a long recovery in front of me both physically and mentally.

It turns out that this breakdown was the culmination of a few years of bad choices and somehow I had been operating almost as two people during this time. The drs tell me that I had/have dissociative personality which meant that I was able to do things that were and are completely out of character for me the person who I think I am.

Turns out that some years ago I got to my tipping point of coping and slipped into a major depression with generalised anxiety. The main problem for me was that I was so used to putting on a brave face and pretending that I was ok and being there for everyone else that I either didn’t recognise it in myself or chose not to or pushed it aside and continued on until my brain simply could not cope anymore and I had a total mental and physical breakdown. I managed to lead a double life and did things that were completely out of character for me the person that I believe I am and people know me to be, I am now having to face up to the consequences of these actions. The consequences are loosing my job, breaking the trust of my family and friends, disappointing those closest to me, and could in fact be criminal charges but I am hopeful that won’t be the case.

Sure my case and the young men in Bali are different in that mine was a mental health issue and theirs was motivated by greed but ultimately they are both criminal and in a civilised society both deserve the opportunity for redemption.

What defines us as people is not what we have done and the mistakes we have made be they big or small. Everyone makes mistakes no-one is perfect (let he who is sin free cast the first stone) but it is the unwritten story, what happens after the mistake that defines us as a person.

For me I have a long journey back to wellness and sure at the moment on this journey there are days, hours, and even minutes where I truly believe that my family and friends would be better without me and that I am not worthy of their love and support because of my mistake. I am assured constantly that this is not the case so I continue to work hard on my recovery so that my unwritten story can be one where they are all proud of me and proud of the person I am, not one defined by the mistakes I have made. But I am lucky, I am getting the treatment, love and support I need to make this journey whatever the outcome.

This leads me to reflect on these young Australians who overnight were executed they made a mistake, sure for them it was big one and one had they gotten away with would have had far reaching consequences for so many families but it was a mistake. The legacy that I believe these men need to be remembered for is their unwritten story, once they were arrested they took ownership of their crimes and made a decision to turn their lives around.

They were by all accounts rehabilitated in a prison system that at its core is not about rehabilitation, they rehabilitated other prisoners, they studied, they kicked a drug habit with no support, they became men that their families could be proud of and fight for.

Everyone deserves a chance to make their unwritten story different to what has been. #istandformercy is not about condoning their crimes but it is about finding compassion in our hearts to show love and mercy and remembering, but for the grace, it is not you or your loved one.

  • It just seems so surreal, and if accounts are accurate it took 27 mins until everyone was dead. Horrific. Thanks to your special reader for writing this, it’s very well put. x

    • Her words were lovely. I cried on my keyboard.

    • It didn’t take 27 minutes – the poor souls who were shot died very shortly thereafter. It did however, take 27 minutes to ensure that the executed were officially dead. I feel such despair by the choice (because they HAD a choice) the Indonesian government made, and your reader has so eloquently put into words an experience very similar to my own. We all fuck up. It’s what we do afterwards that counts #istandformercy

  • Michele

    Mrs Woog, I’m horrified that in the wake of these executions you’re still going on holiday to Bali. You’ve lost all credibility for me.

    • Thank you for letting me know Michele.

      • Janet

        Boycotting Bali only serves to harm the lovely locals. It was their Government which committed this awful act!! Thanks for sharing this beautiful and compassionate letter, Mrs Woog.

        • You are welcome Janet, and I totally agree with you. Boycotting is not the answer xx

      • MadamBipolar

        Why blame and penalise the Balinese? They have shown me nothing but kindness since I arrived here to live. Boycotting Bali will achieve nothing. They’ve made up their minds long before this.

    • I had a work trip booked to Bali just as they confirmed the execution this year and it made me feel sick but I’d already dropped several thousand dollars to book my trip and I couldn’t afford to waste that money by skipping it. (Most) of the Balinese people I spoke to on my trip don’t agree with the government decision and their economy relies on the tourist industry, it would be like another country punishing us for the decisions our government made. I’m horrified by what has happened in Indonesia this week and I’m not a Bali regular, I’ve only been there twice for work trips but Mrs Woog has been travelling to Bali almost every year for her entire adult life. She has close friends that live there. I can understand that many Australian’s feel very strongly about boycotting Bali but I can also understand that many Australians live in Bali and have years of worth of memories and time spent there and that’s a totally separate thing to the executions of yesterday. There are lots of countries that have the death penalty, including the United States and no one seems to be judging people for jumping on planes to Texas. I absolutely understand where you’re coming but It’s not as simple for some people to just stop going to Bali when so much of their lives are based there. I have many friends who live in Bali and run businesses there and it’s a really difficult and emotional time for people who love Indonesia but are also horrified by the events of this week. Indonesia is a beautiful country with a ruthless government and I won’t be judging anyone for travelling there. Mrs Woog adores that country is utterly outraged at the events of this week and I don’t think for one second she’s taking her decision to travel to Bali lightly.

      • Kylee

        Agreed, Smaggle. Gawd, if my overseas friends judged me on the immigration stance of the Australian government, I’d be very sad.

      • Couldn’t agree more, Smaggle. I also think it’s time for us to be speaking up to help end the death penalty globally. Our natural inclination – and that of the Australian Government – may be to rebuff the Indonesian Government after what’s happened, but I think that refusing to engage with them is the worst thing we can do in the circumstances. We need to talk more and keep discussions going if we are going to stand any chance of ending this barbaric practice.

  • “Everyone deserves a chance to make their unwritten story different to what has been.”
    Nailed it! It’s a sad day.

  • Mel Mcd

    Beautiful words that sum up the situation perfectly. #Istandformercy was not about asking for these guys to be released, their crimes forgotten and for there to be sunshine and lollipops, rather the human right to live and help other rehabilitate.

    To the anonymous writer, thank you for sharing your story and I’m sending all my good karma vibes towards you and your recovery.

  • Heidi D

    Thanks to the reader that shared this with you & thank you for sharing it with us. It really puts into words feelings that I’m sure lots of people, me included, are finding hard to express today. A very sad day.

    • It is indeed. I am sure she will be reading these comments Heidi. x

  • “…what happens after the mistake that defines us as a person.” I could not agree more. What a beautiful and eloquent email. Bravo to that brave soul. x

    • I agree Sonia. I took so much away from her words. x

  • Jennifer

    Thank you to anyone who can put words to the sadness that I feel today. I wish your courageous reader all the very best in her journey to be her best self. I believe that we show what we’re really made of under difficult circumstances. I think your reader will make a life of complete redemption. She will make her family and loved ones proud and will be the sort of person that adds to society rather than takes from it. Thank you.

    • A lovely comment Jennifer. Thank you x

  • Lisa Quarterman

    For me it simply comes down to the fact that life is sacred and we live by the understanding that a person shall not kill another. What those boys did was wrong and for this crime, they must expect that their rights, privileges and freedoms will be taken away. But not their lives, no-one has the right to take that away from them. Today I continue to stand for mercy.

  • Sarah Watts

    Well said and good luck with your journey!

  • Brilliantly written. Thank you reader for sharing your story and bless you for writing in a way to help others understand or make sense of this tragedy. When a wrong happens we have a choice in the way we react. We all should be given the opportunity To change. None of us can cast stones because we have all done something wrong at one time or another even if the ramifications are different. Mercy should have been given. There was no wisdom in this decision. I’m not sure what else to type other than life is sacred and we need to see beyond the crime to the heart of the person who has done the wrong thing.

  • Maggie

    Speaking from experience, living with mental illness takes courage and resilence. It sounds as if your author has both and I join your other contributors in wishing her all the best for her journey ahead. Unfortunately, the poor soul in the Bali nine who suffered from schizophrenia wasn’t afforded any opportunity to seek the treatment he deserved. It was the cruel disregard of any sense of humanity in last night’s executions that made my blood run cold. It was Widodo giving the rest of the world, Australia in particular, the middle finger.

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    Beautifully written,may their families find peace and to you I wish you the best of luck in your recovery,may you be happy and healthy Xx

  • Petra

    The “Death Penalty” is morally and abominably wrong no matter what the crime. None of us are perfect or sin-free. Well written article by a compassionate woman. Thanks for sharing.

  • I’ve been reflecting on this a lot, and what strikes me as beyond any argument anyone could make for their crimes fitting the punishment is the sheer torture of waiting ten years on death row.

    My heart is with those who loved them and those who fought for them, because I am sure today is one of the hollowest days they have ever seen.

    My gratitude is that my mistakes lead me to a better life and not the choices that I made and so I will do my best to live it as a good person doing good as they attempted to do in their years in jail.

  • You’re right. That has just summed everything up perfectly. I think it’s important we don’t blame the people of Indonesia for this. That would be like blaming all Australians for things our government does and God help us if that ever happened. What a brave person it is who wrote this to you. Beautiful, poignant words.

  • So well said. We all know good people who make bad decisions. People we know would do everything they could to redeem themselves after the fact. People we care about. People we would fight for if they faced death for what they’ve done. We need to remember to have compassion.
    I wish the writer very well on their personal journey.

  • I too have had to rehabilitate and I am proud to say I have redeemed myself. I have been a completely different person in the past and sure wouldn’t want to be judged on that. Killing is evil and it is a karmic injustice what has happened to these two men.

  • Beautifully said. Where’s the mercy? Where’s the forgiveness? Where’s the compassion? Andrew and Myu were living proof that mistakes can be put right and together we can make a difference. On the other hand, the Indonesian government are never going to be able to put this right. My heart hurts for the families. Bravo, brave reader and I wish you well.

  • Shellbell

    Well said and a brave thing to do. The death penalty cheapens life and life is precious, not to be taken away to improve a politicians voting stock. I can’t fathom what those boys and their families have been through. And to kill someone with a schizophrenia is appalling, he wouldn’t have even understood what was happening. I do despair of this barbarity.

  • So well said brave reader so full of wise integrity. Bravo again from the sidelines. We should not become stereotypical puppets for political regimes but think hard and fast about creating a brave new world of our own making.

  • Hugs and best wishes to the writer of this emotional piece. And to her support network too who have gone thru much because of and with her.

    Second, and sometimes 3rd chances are a wonderful thing.

  • LouisaG

    I have just a heavy heart, it was the first think I heart in the car, with my five year ild daughter on the way to school. I felt sick. I teach my daughter forgiveness, that its ok to make a mistake, you do good, you apologise and be sure not do muck up again. All is forgiven. I want to live in a world where we give second chances, we can learn from our mistakes. I’m so sad.

  • Indonesia’s population is in excess of 249 Million people. Bali consists of 4 million of those. To hold the Balinese people accountable for a government action would be like all Australian’s being held responsible for the actions of our own government. Even if every single Balinese addressed their parliament and government with their grievances of the events that have unfolded over the last 48 hours /10 years, they are a drop in the ocean. I am a lover of Bali, their people and their culture and i travel there twice a year. I am proud to call many Balinese my friends as well. These people, just like you and me are just people and the majority of them ( just like you and me ) are trying to do the best in their lives. It is so easy to “blanket” over hateful comments towards the people of Indonesia and Bali. I will not be boycotting a country that I enjoy visiting and spending time in. And in the truest form of their religion, forgiveness and redemption is taught and practiced. My heart is so heavy for the families of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, I do believe in mercy, forgiveness and I truly believe that people have the ability to change and grow. What has made me extremely uneasy is the vile hate and utter disrespectful comments that have been thrown about all over social media. And I don’t mean about individuals opinions on what has happened but the faceless, virtual, easy attacks to each other through the forums and discussions on Facebook, Instagram etc…I had to log off my accounts and not read anymore – such hurtful words were being thrown around. That was not love, that was not respect, that was not kindness. Such a heartfelt written piece Kayte from one of your readers – thank you so much for sharing this. oxo

  • What a beautiful and brave letter. How cruel to have kept them alive, allow them to rehabilitate only to end this way. I feel incredibly saddened for their families. Thanks ‘reader’ for sharing your story and to all below who have kind, forgiving hearts x

  • Thanks for sharing, Mrs W. I haven’t known what to say, so haven’t said anything. Because I know I can’t handle the negative comments and replies that would come from the everything’s-black-and-white holier-than-thous who have never in their lives done anything wrong. Thanks to both you and you reader (and writer) for being braver than I am. x

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