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Saturday, 21 February 2015

Bali nine executions: Tony Abbott compared to Shylock in campaign to repay tsunami aid

Bali nine executions: Tony Abbott compared to Shylock in campaign to repay tsunami aid

Bali nine executions: Tony Abbott compared to Shylock in campaign to repay tsunami aid

 



Indonesia correspondent for Fairfax

Angry Indonesians have compared Tony Abbott to Shylock, the moneylender in The Merchant of Venice who demanded a pound of flesh when his rival defaulted on a loan.

"Australians
need a prime minister, not a Shylock and drug dealer's cousin," a
banner said at a protest held on car-free Sunday at Jakarta's famous
Hotel Indonesia roundabout.


Indonesians hold posters aimed at Tony Abbott during protests in Jakarta.
Indonesians hold posters aimed at Tony Abbott during protests in Jakarta.




Passersby scattered silver coins on banners featuring the Australian Prime Minister with red tape crossed over his mouth.


The protest is part of a campaign to "repay" the $1 billion in Australian aid given to Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami.

Mr Abbott reminded Indonesia of the donation as part of his pleas for the lives of the Bali nine duo on death row.

His
comments were interpreted as a threat and have inflamed tensions
between Australia and Indonesia with the executions of Andrew Chan and
Myuran Sukumaran imminent.


"Abbott = ascal bacot" (slang for
Abbott is a big mouth) one sign said and another said "We don't no
Australian education" (sic).


Many people came to Sunday's protest
after learning about it from a Twitter campaign using the hashtags
#KoinuntukAustralia, #coinforAustralia and #coinforAbbott.


Rian, one of the event organisers, said he would deliver the coins to the Australian embassy.

He
said if every person in Indonesia, which has a population of 250
million, donated one coin the country could pay back the "small amount
of money donated by Australia".


"We think this is quite urgent.
There are many areas of co-operation between the Australian government
and the Indonesian government. It is the Australian government who
benefits from the co-operation," Rian said.


Indonesian and
Australian authorities work together in areas such as counter-terrorism,
border security, defence and legal framework development.


"So, don't you ever mention something as tiny as $1 billion in relief for us," Rian said.

He said the coin-collection campaign was to remind Indonesians of the republic's independence.

"We
are a nation that refuses to be colonised, a nation that would like to
tell other nations not to try to destroy this republic."



Indonesians are nationalistic and it is feared inflamed tensions between
the two countries will only strengthen President Joko Widodo's resolve
to execute the two men.


Foreign Minister Julie Bishop rang
Vice-President Jusuf Kalla,  who is understood to have said Mr Abbott's
comments were "most unhelpful", to clarify that the Prime Minister did
not mean to link tsunami aid with the executions.


"I said I regretted if this comment was seen as anything other than that," she said.

Mrs Endang, a businesswoman from Ambon, donated 20,000 rupiah ($2) to the coins for Abbott campaign.

"As an Indonesian citizen I am disappointed with the Australian statement," she said.

"I donated without any pressure. It was sincere. Why did he (Abbott) bring it up that he helped us?"

The
coins for Abbott campaign originated in Aceh, the Indonesian province
that was hit hardest by the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, which killed
more than 100,000 people there.


The protest comes as the brothers
of Chan and Sukumaran made a statement outside Kerobokan prison urging
everyone to remain respectful "at this time".


Sukumaran's brother,
Chinthu, said that as the men reflected on their past they were
grateful to the Indonesian government, prison officials, and the many
volunteers who had allowed them to set up programs that had helped
better themselves and assisted Indonesians.


"We see and hear many prisoners doing courses and going on to jobs and better lives," Chinthu said.

"Our
brothers' great wish is for the Indonesian president to allow them to
continue this help to rebuild the lives of many Indonesians for many
years to come," he said.


Chan's brother, Michael, said the two men on death row were very grateful for the support and kindness shown to them.

"We
are amazed by the strength and resilience during this stressful time to
create a holistic rehabilitation program that is now the envy of most
prisons worldwide," Michael said.


With Karuni Rompies and Amilia Rosa

 

 

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