Guns N’ Roses mainman Axl Rose launched a last-minute bid to prevent the execution of two ‘Bali 9’ drug smugglers in Indonesia – but to no avail.
He wrote a letter to Indonesian president and heavy metal fan Joko Widodo after it was confirmed that death penalties would be carried out on Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who were among the nine convicted in 2005.
But last night it was confirmed that the pair were among eight prisoners killed at Besi Prison, Nusakambangan. And Rose responded by accusing Widodo of “cowardice.”
His letter was sent hours before the executions took place, and followed similar messages from Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi and Napalm Death frontman Barney Greenway.
The GnR man wrote: “I appeal to you to strengthen international relationships, to show your country’s strength and allow the world to witness an extraordinary act of humanity and bravery.
“Show each of us that there can be hope and true redemption in times of hopelessness and despair – that true justice is better achieved in not killing.
“Their crimes were now long ago, their hearts and minds forever changed by their crimes, their trials, the hurt they’ve caused their loved ones.”
He added: “I realise I am no one to get involved with your affairs or those of your government. How this letter reads, or anyone other than yourself thinks of it, is irrelevant. Only the lives of these human beings are what’s important now.
“You’ve made your point and struck fear in the hearts and minds of the condemned, and anyone even remotely considering bad choices or already involved in those worlds. Life is the only thing important now – not death but life.”
Rose also spoke up for Filipina Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, the only person to be reprieved at the last moment. Following the executions he issued a series of tweets in which he said: “It’s deeply troubling President Widodo, ignoring International outcry, went through with eight of the executions. Let’s pray Miss Veloso’s reprieve is permanent.
“Widodo to be out of the country, refusing to take calls or read any last minute pleas is cowardice. The people of Indonesia deserve better.”
Indonesian officials argue that the death penalty for drug crimes is required because of the country’s related death rate – 33 people per day are thought to die of narcotic-related incidents.
The Australian government last night withdrew its ambassador, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott calling the executions “cruel and unnecessary.” Amnesty International described them as “utterly reprehensible.”
In March, Iommi wrote to Widodo saying: “I have seen first-hand the negative impacts that drugs can have on people and their families. That is why I understand your strong views on this issue.”
He went on: “The Indonesian prison system has had great success in transforming Andrew and Myuran. I appeal to you, as a forgiving man, to take note of their transformation. They are reformed men.”