Bali Nine pastor Christie Buckingham says threat of death penalty hasn’t stopped laid-back Aussie travellers from taking risks

| October 12, 2017 |
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Christie Buckingham with portraits of Andrew Chan, left, and Myuran Sukumaran.
THE Melbourne pastor who stood with Bali Nine member Myuran Sukumaran in the harrowing moments before his execution has warned Aussie travellers are failing to learn from his mistakes.

Speaking ahead of the release of a documentary that recounts the last 72 hours of Sukumaran’s life, Bayside Church pastor Christie Buckingham has warned it was only a matter of time before history repeats itself.

“Very quickly people forget how easy it is to get into trouble,’’ Ms Buckingham said.

“Drugs are more accessible than ever, certainly in Bali, and Aussie tourists can get specifically targeted by traffickers, especially when they are drunk.

“The fact is many Australians travel to countries where they have the death penalty and yet it doesn’t seem to be a deterrent.

“What happened to Myuran and Andrew will happen again.’’

Directed by Matthew Sleeth, Guilty, opened at the Adelaide Film Festival this week.

It highlights the final 72 hours of Sukumaran’s life before he was shot by firing squad along with fellow Bali Nine member Andrew Chan.

The pair were two of nine drug mules convicted for attempting to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia in 2005.

The film focuses on Sukumaran’s rehabilitation with many critics pointing to his reform and move to becoming an accomplished artist as a defining argument against capital punishment.

Ms Buckingham said the documentary would give audiences a better understanding of how much the drug smugglers’ lives had changed and strengthen the global campaign lead by organisations like Reprieve Australia.

“Myuran always said people must be given a second chance or they won’t have an incentive to change,” she said.

“It shows Myuran as a good bloke who was aware of what he’d done and was profoundly sorry for that and should never been killed.

“He also recognised his ability to reform was, in part, because of the Indonesian prison system.”

Ms Buckingham, whose pastoral care work continues to this day at Bali’s Kerobokan Prison, said it had also been an important personal journey.

“I learned from the boys in those last 72 hours that you have to let go of things very quickly and stick to the core values of being kind and forgiving and let go of things you can’t change,” she said.

“The living can learn much from the dying. Normally dying people are frail and it’s difficult to have a conversation. But these boys were strong and clear with their intentions of what they wanted their legacy to be.’’

She said the challenge to make Australians of all ages aware of the consequences and the push to end capital punishment would continue.

“Australia is opposed to the death penalty, in any case for any reason, however we are also strongly opposed to drug trafficking.

“In order for us to continue working against drug trafficking we must continue to work with neighbouring countries that have the death penalty. That’s the reality.’’

Guilty is expected to screen in Victorian cinemas next year.

Source: Herald Sun, Aaron Langmaid, October 12, 2017

➤ Related content: New film is a gut-wrenching look at Bali Nine execution


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