Australia has a special relationship with Indonesia in general and Bali in particular. The Indonesian Archipelago arches across the top half of Australia. Bali has long been a very popular inexpensive overseas holiday destination for Australians. The surfing beaches of Kuta provide the watery playground by day and the nightclubs of Kuta the playground by night.
Not far away, for the more artsy and adventurous, Ubud provides the peaceful getaway and a chance for holiday makers to have up close encounters with the islands primates in the Monkey Forest. Cheap accommodation sits next to 5 star resorts. Bali is also a melting pot of Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and Christianity. Trinkets and clothing are cheap. Beer is plentiful.
Before any traveler leaves Australia, one has only to go to the restroom to get your first taste of how much the Australian government does to try and protect its citizens from themselves. On the back of every door, in every stall, there is a notice explaining the penalties for drug trafficking in most of the Asian countries in the region. For Bali, the penalty is death by firing squad. It is spelled out explicitly.
Upon arrival in Bali, a huge sign is hung in front of travelers before they even reach customs and immigration. In Bali, Drug Trafficking = Death. Both governments are crystal clear on the penalties. Nothing is left to chance or the imagination.
In 2005, 9 Australians, between the ages of 18 and 29, decided to test the system. They lost. At least two have been executed by firing squad. Five are doing life in prison in Bali. Two are doing 20 years.
This book is a succinct version of what occurred. It documents a brief background on each individual involved in the smuggling ring. It then documents the events that led up to the attempt to smuggle 8.2kg of heroin out of Bali and back to Australia where the street value was the equivalent of approximately $5million dollars.
The next portion outlines the arrests of the smugglers and their trials. Trials that occurred both from the Indonesian legal system (which is very unique and described in detail) as well as trial by media. Every move each person made being dissected by the tabloids and news organizations from Australia, Indonesia and abroad.
The final chapters outline what the prisoners day to day experience of being in prison on Bali are like and the effect these events have had on the families of the smugglers. It also discusses the relationships with Indonesians that the smugglers have formed throughout this ordeal. One thing about the Balinese – they are a wonderful, kind and warm people whose faith and belief in kindness comes through even in a bleak story like this one.
This is a quick read but an excellent reporting of the events that resulted in the execution by firing squad of two Australians for drug smuggling. In Bali, death means death for drug trafficking.