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1. Bali Nine: Australian Catholic University scholarships in honour of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran ‘odd’, Tony Abbott says.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described it as “odd” for an Australian university to announce scholarships in honour of executed drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
The Australian Catholic University was involved in the campaign for clemency and has announced it would recognise the two men by introducing scholarships in their memory.
The Vice Chancellor, Professor Greg Craven, released a statement explaining the reasoning for the university’s decision.
“We did this because ACU is committed to the dignity of the human person, and that applies equally to all human beings: victims as well as to those who have been convicted of crimes,” the statement said.
“As a Catholic university committed to promoting a culture of life, we stand opposed to the death penalty.”
Indonesian students wanting to study in Australia would be eligible, and would have to submit an essay on the sanctity of human life as part of their application.
“In a small but deeply symbolic way, the writing by Indonesian students on the sanctity of life would be an ongoing contribution toward the eventual abolition of the death penalty in Indonesia,” Professor Craven wrote.
Mr Abbott responded to the decision in an interview with radio station 2GB.
“I absolutely deplore what happened this week, it casts a very deep shadow over what is normally a good relationship with Indonesia,” he said.
“By the same token there can be no truck with drug trafficking, absolutely none.”
Mr Abbott said the university was sending a very unusual message.
“It’s, if I may say so, an odd thing for a university to do,” he said.
“Particularly for an institution which is supposed to stand up for the best values.
“I know part of Christian faith is forgiveness, but another part of Christian faith is calling people to be their best selves.”
He said the men were repentant and seemed to have met their fate with a “kind of nobility”.
“All of that is admirable, but whether that justifies what has apparently been done, I think, is open to profound question,” Mr Abbott said.
Ross Taylor from the Perth-based Indonesia Institute said the executions were perceived differently in Indonesia to how they were in Australia.