2 Indonesian prisoners linked to Bali bombings get early release to reflect Eid
Judaism and Christianity also have theological traditions -- almost entirely forgotten in the United States, which has the world's largest prison population -- which call for forgiveness and emancipation. The Old Testament commands the nation to observe one set of forgivenesses every 7 years, and another -- the Jubilee -- every 50 years. Arguably the Jewish tradition dating to the time of Moses influenced and was incorporated within the Islamic tradition of forgiveness.
Here we have another religious/cultural flashpoint between Christians and Muslims in Oceana. Australians in Indonesia facing the death penalty for drug smuggling is another.
Long before the Bali bombings, Indonesia was accustomed to official government gestures of forgiveness to reflect the major Muslim holidays.
Just before he left office in 2001, President Bill Clinton's final wave of presidential pardons were few in number and pathetic in nature. Christian clergy (and NGO Vleeptron and its predecessor moNGO) had been trying to get his attention to remind him that 2000 indeed qualified as a Jubilee year, and there were thousands of non-violent federal prisoners, many of whose convictions and lengthy sentences were the results of questionable and racism-tinged justice. Clinton failed to embrace Jubilee.
Yet earlier U.S. presidents typically used their powers of pardon and clemency to free and forgive much larger numbers of prisoners every year, doubtless reflecting common understanding of the Christian obligations of forgiveness. Here is the secular, Constitutional rationale of this presidential power, as distinct from any Judaeo-Christian context ...
Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution gives the president "Power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment." A reprieve reduces the severity of a punishment without removing the guilt of the person reprieved. A pardon removes both punishment and guilt.
As judicially interpreted, the president's power to grant reprieves and pardons is absolute. Individual reprieves and pardons cannot be blocked by Congress or the courts. The Framers of the Constitution envisioned the pardon power has having a narrow purpose in times of war and rebellion. The president might offer pardons to rebellious factions as an inducement for a laying down of arms and national reconciliation. Alexander Hamilton argued in the Federalist Papers (No. 74) that "in seasons of insurrection or rebellion, there are often critical moments, when a well-timed offer of pardon to the insurgents or rebels may restore the tranquillity of the common wealth; and which, if suffered to pass unimproved, it may never be possible afterwards to recall."
The pardon power has been used as the Framers foresaw: George Washington pardoned leaders of the Whiskey Rebellion, and Andrew Johnson pardoned Confederate soldiers following the Civil War. In 20th century, Jimmy Carter pardoned those who had evaded service in the Vietnam War.
(From anonymous text prepared by the staff of the Library, Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California at Berkeley.)
Official pardons and forgiveness of double-parkers and jaywalkers and gum-chewers, wealthy tax cheats and the occasional Southern moonshiner are synthetic and artificial reflections of religious requirements. They allow presidents and governors to wrap themselves in the appearance of Jubilee without risking any public controversy or criticism.
Islamic or Judaic or Christian, for Forgiveness to mean anything, the objects of true Forgiveness have to be people we were authentically angry at.
Vleeptron recommends readers find their own links to public and political reaction in Australia; they'll be easy enough to find.
They're not necessarily wrong. But they are depressing, because they push the entire Planet away from the notion of forgiveness and toward the notion of vengeance.
Neither Christian, Muslim nor Jew, Mohandas Karamchand ("Mahatma") Gandhi said:
makes the whole world blind."
Monday 23 October 2006
Two Bali bomb convicts
to be freed
DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) -- Two Indonesians convicted over the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people will be freed from jail on Tuesday after having their sentences cut to mark a Muslim holiday, prison officials said.
Similar moves in the past to cut sentences of those convicted over the attacks have been slammed by countries whose nationals in the attack. Most of those killed by the blasts were foreign tourists, including 88 Australians.
"Sirojul Munir who has been detained since January 16 2003 will receive a one month cut to his sentence," Edi, a prison official in Balikpapan in East Kalimantan province where he is being held, said.
Munir, whom media reports said was convicted for harbouring two of the bomb masterminds, was given a five-year sentence which was reduced later on.
A second person convicted over the bombings held in a jail in Bali would also be released after remission, another prison official said.
"Bali bomb convict Mudjarot will be freed tomorrow after receiving a remission of one month and fifteen days," Ilham Djaya, the head of Bali prison said, without elaborating. Details of his conviction were not immediately available.
The remissions are linked to celebrations on Tuesday for Eid al-Fitr to marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Indonesia traditionally has a prisoner remission programme on various days of the year, including independence from Dutch colonial rule on 17 August.
Australia has previously asked Indonesia to review automatic remissions for people convicted of terrorism-related crimes, and Jakarta has said it is reviewing the programme.
Three Islamic militants are on death row for the bombings of two nightclubs in Kuta Beach on 12 October 2002 , which were blamed on the Southeast Asia militant Islamic group, Jemaah Islamiah.
Additional reporting by Telly Nathalia / © Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.