Souvenirs from Indonesia’s hell-on-wheels prisoner transfer photo op

The photo op was deliberate:

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The tone-deaf cop in this photo is the Bali police commissioner, Djoko Hari Utomo. It was not just rogue junior officers surreptitiously taking photos, in the fashion of the unauthorized cell phone video showing Saddam Hussein being hanged. The documentation of this hideous circus was much more intentional and well planned.

Are my eyes playing tricks on me, or did the cops have to move Chan and Sukumaran around to get these photos? They’re both seated in a righthand aisle seat near the middle of the aircraft. The blurrier photo of Sukumaran that emerged before these staged photos must have been taken from near the middle of the plane, but Chan is nowhere in sight.



The nominal purpose of this nightmare was to get two model prisoners before a firing squad. This is why they were manhandled through two armored personnel carriers and a chartered plane by a paramilitary squad that looks like it has massacred whole villages. This is why the Bali police commissioner posed with Andrew Chan while he was surrounded by space-age death squad cyborgs on a flight to the killing fields.

There’s a lot that the United States can learn about penology from Indonesia, but this prisoner transport photo op nightmare sure as hell isn’t it. The photo op is a major international incident in preparation for an irrevocable international incident. For anyone in the Indonesian government to chide the Australian government or citizenry for thinking about jamming up the Indonesian economy on account of the Bali Nine affair is provocative and absurd. It’s like Robert Pickton inveighing, “Damn you for no longer buying your pork farm-fresh in Port Coquitlam just because I murdered your daughter.”

The Joko Widodo government is turning into structural Robert Pickton. This is a regime that deserves to forfeit its good standing in the community of nations. It most certainly deserves to forfeit all non-emergency foreign aid for its police and military at once.

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