World Council of Churches asks Indonesian president to stop executions

(Photo: REUTERS / Beawiharta)Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (L) poses beside Indonesia's President Joko Widodo after his swearing-in at the Presidential palace in Jakarta, November 19, 2014. Jakarta's first Christian governor in nearly 50 years was sworn in on Wednesday, despite protests from religious hardliners opposing a non-Muslim taking over one of Indonesia's most powerful political jobs.

The World Council of Churches head has sent a letter to the president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, urgently asking him to stop the planned April 28 execution of 10 people including drug traffickers.

This sent by WCC general secretary, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, follows similar appeals made by many in the ecumenical movement, including appeals by Bishop Ketut Waspada of the Christian Protestant Church in Bali (GKPB).

Bishop Waspada is a member of the WCC's Commission of the Churches on International Affairs a body that often deals with human rights issues.

The WCC asks the president to establish an immediate moratorium on all executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty and joining the global consensus against capital punishment.

Tveit said in his letter: "Your country's decision to resume executions sets Indonesia against the global trend towards abolition of the death penalty."

Some 140 countries have now abolished the death penalty completely, in law or practice.

The death penalty was abolished in Indonesia in 2008 but was re-established in 2013. In January, five foreign nationals and an Indonesian were executed for drug trafficking.

"I join the many others around the world who have appealed to you for clemency for the death row prisoners scheduled to be executed imminently: Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran, Raheem Agbaje Salami, Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, Zainal Abidin, Martin Anderson (alias Belo), Rodrigo Gularte, Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise (alias Mustafa), Okwudili Oyatanze and Serge Areski Atlaoui, said Tveit.

He noted, "Despite the crimes of which they have been convicted, these sisters and brothers are all children of God, created in God's own image."

Bishop Waspada said in his letter: "With the death penalty, we put God's authority into question and take away people's chance to change their lives.

"Let us ask ourselves deep in our hearts: do we, as human beings, really have the authority to take the lives of other people? I think only God has the authority to continue or to end the lives of His creations."

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