In mid-July, after Ramadan, 18 death row inmates will be executed. Another 30 are set for early 2017. More and more young people are getting addicted to drugs. About 104,000 have died so far. Currently, 50 people die from overdose every day. The Indonesian Church is involved in rehab work, but lacks the facilities.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – In Indonesia, a third round of mass executions is set to take place. After several weeks of uncertainty, a date has been picked – mid-July – after Eid al-Fitr celebrations, which mark the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and prayer.
Some 18 people convicted on drug trafficking charges will go before the firing squad. A fourth group of about 30 will follow in early 2017.
Indonesian Attorney General H. Muhammad Prasetyo described the 48 death row inmates as “prominent” drug traffickers. However, they are not alone. Another 152 have been sentenced to death on a variety of crimes, ranging from murder to terrorism.
Mr Prasetyo said that everything is ready for “the third round of executions in July 2016” on Nusakambangan Island.
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, has some of the strictest anti-drug laws in the world against what President Joko Widodo has called a "national emergency." Since he became president in 2014, Mr Widodo has boosted the all-out campaign against drugs.
Sixty-six people were executed between 1979 and 2015. In January 2015, five foreigners and an Indonesian woman were executed. In April, a second round of executions took place involving eight people, including two Australians, sparking international controversy. In this case, the authorities spared the life of Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, a 30-year-old Filipina domestic worker sentenced to death for drug trafficking.
According to a recent report by Indonesia’s National Anti-drug Agency (BNN), more and more people are using drugs, especially amphetamines, a real plague for many countries in South-East Asia.
Making matters worse, the age of users is constantly dropping as drug traffickers target young people, which they see as a growth market.
Increasingly, drugs are being given out in sweets at schools and colleges to get people hooked with incalculable damages.
According to BNN estimates, some 5.1 million Indonesians are into banned substances, age ranging from 15 to 64. So far, 104,000 have died from illegal drug use, and more and more of them are young. Every day, 50 people die from an overdose, making drug abuse a national emergency.
In the past five years, 50.2 per cent of people in their 30s have experimented with drugs at least once. Most consumers are male (80 per cent).
In order to respond to the emergency, the Indonesian Church has launched targeted programmes of assistance and rehabilitation of drug addicts.
In June 2014, the Bishops' Conference established a pastoral plan against drug use, aimed at addicts, especially the younger ones.
Still, several issues remain unresolved, the first being the lack of rehab facilities. “As of today we have only 140 spots,” said Anastasia Cakunani, head of Yayasan Sekar Mawar Centre in the Diocese of Bandung. “That is not enough to meet the needs of so many victims."
No official date has been set, but death row inmates, five Indonesians and 10 foreigners, will be executed "in mid-May”. Mary Jane Veloso, a 30-year-old Filipina maid sentenced to death, was spared because her case is being prepared in the Philippines.
The accused was arrested in 2013 at Penang airport with four kilos of amphetamines in her suitcase. According to some activists, she is yet another victim of traffickers who exploit the desperation of migrant workers. She received the suitcase from people she did not know and was not aware of the content. At least 158 Indonesian nationals are on death row in Malaysia.