When Jakarta governor Joko Widodo was elected President of Indonesia, it was seen as a victory for opponents of the authoritarian regimes that had traditionally ruled in the past. It was also seen as a victory for metal fans worldwide, as he became the first president of any country that was a metal fan, naming Napalm Death and Metallica as bands he was a fan of. And while the metal community still has reason to rejoice, Widodo has been hearing from some of his favorite musicians, and it’s not to congratulate him for winning. Napalm Death’s Barney Greenway has written him, and now Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi has as well.
Two Australian nationals, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, were caught bringing heroin into the country in 2006, and in Indonesia, that’s a death sentence. They were sentenced to be executed by firing squad after Widodo denied clemency. It was reported that the two were taken to “execution island” today, where they’ll likely be killed in a matter of days. And while last month was when Greenway wrote a letter asking that their lives be spared, Iommi just followed suit. Here’s what he wrote:
The President of lndonesia
3rd March 2015
Your Excellency, I am writing to appeal to you to grant clemency to Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
I understand and respect your efforts to combat drug abuse in lndonesia, this is something that all countries are having to deal with.
lndeed, I have seen first hand the negative impacts that drugs can have on people and their families. That is why I understand your strong views on this issue. The lndonesian prison system has had great success in transforming Andrew and Myuran.
I appeal to you, as a forgiving man, to take note of their transformation. They are now reformed men who are making a positive difference to the lives of their fellow prisoners.
That they have been transformed so much is a real credit to the lndonesian authorities.
For this reason, I would ask that you stop the execution of Andrew and Myuran.
Please allow them to serve out life sentences where they contribute to the wellbeing of lndonesia and make good for the error of their previous ways. I do hope you will consider this personal appeal.
Guitarist, Black Sabbath.
Since Widodo didn’t respond to Greenway, it’s unlikely that he’ll get back to Iommi either, but hopefully, he’ll have a change of heart. Generally, an appeak for presidential clemency is the last chance to avoid execution. In addition to musicians, Australia is, of course, doing their best to appeal. The AFP reports that Brazil and France are involved as well, since their citizens are among those facing executions or already put to death by the country.