The mother of Andrew Chan, one of two Australians on death row in Bali, has made a passionate plea for her son’s life in the countdown to his execution.
By Mark Davis and Nina Tietzel | Updated yesterday at 9:18pm
Helen Chan spoke exclusively to Four Corners after travelling to Bali to spend time with her son.
“I would like to beg the Indonesian president to have clemency on him and give him a chance to change his future,” Ms Chan said.
Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are set to face an Indonesian firing squad this month for planning to smuggle heroin to Australia as part of the so-called Bali Nine.
Repeated efforts to overturn their death sentences have been unsuccessful, with president Joko Widodo refusing to grant clemency.
“Why is it that the Indonesian president does not give him a chance and have pity on us being aged parents?” Ms Chan told Four Corners.
“We are old and in poor health and we do not have long to live, therefore we would not like to see our son go before us.”
Ms Chan and the mother of Sukumaran, Raji Sukumaran, on Monday met with Indonesia’s human rights commission in Jakarta in an attempt to get support to save their sons’ lives.
They arrived at the commision in an Australian embassy van and met with the commissioners who again called for the abolition of the death penalty and a moratorium on executions.
That has long been the position of the commission, but the government is unlikely to listen.
‘You don’t want to leave on a sad note … if it was to happen’
Ms Sukumaran told a press conference in Bali on Monday night she was there to beg president Widodo, Indonesia’s vice-president, attorney-general and people to “show mercy”.
“I beg you to take the time to look properly into the facts of this case. You will see many reasons why the case is different,” she said.
“I understand the serious crime my son committed. They are both very sorry for this. We are very sorry for this.
“They are not the same people who committed the crime almost 10 years ago.”
Ms Sukumaran said her son had reformed while in prison.
“When I visit Myuran in the prison, I meet other families who tell me how much their loved ones have benefitted from Myuran’s encouragement,” she said.
“This makes me so proud of my son and I thank your country for giving my son this opportunity in the Bali prison but I just … want you to please spare him from the firing squad.”
Chan’s brother Michael told the press conference his brother was “trying to hold it together”.
“It’s definitely tough on the family. There is no doubt about it,” he said.
“You don’t want to leave on a sad note if it was to happen. You take it day by day, hour by hour.”
‘Every day he is walking in the valley of death’
Ms Chan, a retired chef who used to run a restaurant in western Sydney, has been travelling to Bali every few years to visit her son in Kerobokan prison.
This is believed to be the first time she has spoken to media about her anguish as a mother.
“Every day he is walking in the valley of death. His future is unknown.”
Nevertheless, Ms Chan said she was proud of the way her son had conducted himself.
“He is willing to face it, he is not ignoring his wrongdoing,” she said.
“This is what I am proud of. I feel that he is very down to earth – facing death every day, but not crying or making a scene.
“Therefore this time when I see him, although I am sad, I have inner peace.”
Repeatedly described as “changed men”, Chan and Sukumaran have received widespread praise for their rehabilitation work in prison.
But the character assessment has not been enough to change Mr Widodo’s tough stance on drug offenders.
Lawyers for the duo are launching a rare administrative challenge to their executions in what has been described as a “last-chance” effort.
They conceded, however, that time was running out.