We must ask ourselves, are we truly a compassionate nation?
I am against the death penalty. I always have been, and I always will be. I cannot see how we can say murder is a crime yet kill people as a punishment. As expedient a solution as the death penalty may be, we should not be killing people.
That said, I cannot reconcile in my mind the public outcry over the looming executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran and the lack of public outcry over the incarceration of innocent children.
Despite Jeff Kennett’s rather flippant comment six days ago, we cannot deflect the blame onto the parents of the children. If we do that and follow that logic through, we should blame the parents of Chan and Sukumaran for raising children to become drug mules and clearly that is neither appropriate nor realistic.
Yes, the parents of the children took the children on a dangerous and torturous journey, seeking a safe haven. The parents are not responsible for locking the children up behind bars. No more than the parents of Chan and Sukumaran are responsible for Indonesia having the death penalty.
I understand there is not overwhelming concern in the community for the two people in Indonesia, yet there does seem to be far more concern than for the many hundreds of children suffering in detention. The Forgotten Children report, released by the Australian Human Rights Commission this month, provides comprehensive and horrifying details of the damage to these poor innocents.
Read the comments on articles about either situation. There are people who don’t see anything wrong with the executions or with the incarceration of the children. Yet it seems to me far more people in Australia are expressing anger about the executions than are irate about The Forgotten Children. Is this because in the case of the executions someone else (Indonesians) is doing the “bad” thing, while we (Australians) are doing the bad thing with the children?
Why this selective compassion? A life is a life. Many Australians are equally concerned about both situations, but it seems to me too many are not.
Under international human rights law neither the executions nor the incarcerations should be happening.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1948, recognizes each person’s right to life. It categorically states that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” (Article 5). In Amnesty International’s view, the death penalty violates these rights.
The children haven’t committed ANY crime yet are being subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
We should be witnessing equal outrage for both situations, surely? I understand death is final, incarceration is not. Yet many of these children may be damaged for life. In one situation we are talking of two lives, in the other many hundreds of lives. Some of those children are highly likely to die in detention, probably more than two.
I do not understand the selective compassion. Do you?
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