TIME India

India Moves to Hang Terrorist Yakub Memon Amid Growing Calls to Abolish Death Penalty

File Photo Of 1993 Mumbai Serial Bomb Blasts Case
Hindustan Times/Getty Images Mumbai bomb-blast accused Yakub Memon entering the TADA court in Mumbai on Oct. 25, 2007

The country remains divided on whether to retain capital punishment

Terrorist convict Yakub Memon, sentenced to death eight years ago for his role orchestrating the 1993 Mumbai bombings, will be hanged at the end of the month provided India’s Supreme Court rejects his final curative petition for mercy next week.

Memon, found guilty of being the “driving spirit” behind the 13 blasts that claimed more than 250 lives, is tentatively scheduled for execution on July 30, sources from India’s Home Ministry confirmed to the Indian Express newspaper.

While the death sentences of 10 others convicted of the attacks were commuted to life imprisonment, Memon’s earlier mercy plea to the country’s President Pranab Mukherjee was declined in April, and his new attempt is similarly expected to be rejected.

Memon’s hanging, if it takes place, will be the third high-profile terrorist execution in India within the past three years — Ajmal Kasab, one of the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks, was hanged in November 2012 and Afzal Guru, convicted of planning an attack on India’s parliament in 2001, met a similar fate a few months later.

The final decision on Memon’s fate, due to be handed down on July 21, comes as India wrestles with abolishing the death penalty altogether. The South Asian nation’s law commission is preparing a report to be submitted to the Supreme Court on ending capital punishment, with a discussion on its consultation paper regarding the subject resulting in a polarization of opinion.

Former Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was among the notable voices in favor of scrapping the death penalty, saying that most cases involving a death sentence have a “social and economic bias,” the Times of India reported. Several participants in the consultation, however, said the death penalty can be justified in the “rarest of the rare” cases.

A report by Amnesty International places India in the top 10 countries sentencing people to death; more than 60 death sentences were handed down in 2014.

TIME indonesia

Boxing Icon Manny Pacquiao Visits Filipina Death-Row Convict Mary Jane Veloso

Ulet Ifansasti—Getty Images Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, center, and his wife Jinkee meet convicted drug trafficker Mary Jane Veloso of the Philippines during a visit at Wirogunan prison on July 10, 2015, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

The boxing legend has lobbied for his compatriot to be set free

Philippine boxer Manny Pacquiao visited Wirogunan prison in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, on Friday morning to show his support for Filipina death-row inmate Mary Jane Veloso.

Pacquiao posted a photo on Instagram of him and his wife Jinkee holding hands and praying with Veloso. “Praying with Mary Jane Veloso. Please keep her in your prayers,” he wrote.

Veloso, who won a last-minute temporary reprieve from execution April 29, following a social-media campaign and a personal plea from Pacquiao, was reportedly in tears during the visit.

Praying with Mary Jane Veloso. Please keep her in your prayers.

A photo posted by Manny Pacquiao (@mannypacquiao) on

Veloso was sentenced to death for drug smugging in October 2010, but her family and supporters say the single mother of two was an unwitting victim of human traffickers. Amid a massive social-media campaign launched by migrant-workers’-rights and women’s-rights activists in both countries, Pacquiao made a televised appeal to Indonesian President Joko Widodo to spare the life of Veloso on April 27, two days before the scheduled execution.

Hours after Veloso’s temporary reprieve, the boxing icon promised he would visit her after his “fight of century” against Floyd Mayweather on May 2 in Las Vegas — a promise he has now fulfilled.

Pacquiao and his wife flew to Indonesia on Tuesday to shoot a commercial for a local herbal-medicine company. He and his entourage stayed at Wirogunan prison for about 30 to 60 minutes. Indonesian migrant activists gave him and his wife a handmade batik gift to express their gratitude. “This visit is very important and can give moral support to MJ [Mary Jane],” said the Indonesian Migrant Workers’ Network in a statement.

TIME Crime

The Enduring Enigma of the First Woman Executed by the U.S. Federal Government

Mary Elizabeth Jenkins Surratt (1820 or May 1823 – July 7, 1865) Dated 1865
Universal History Archive / Getty Images Mary Elizabeth Jenkins Surratt (1820 or May 1823 ¬ July 7, 1865)

The first woman executed by the United States received her sentence on June 30, 1865

It’s been 150 years since the first conspirators who killed Abraham Lincoln were executed. Among them was Mary Surratt, who was the first woman to be executed by the federal government—but whose story remains a mystery to this day.

Surratt stands at the border of Civil War conflict. After all, she was from Maryland, a state that straddled North-South loyalties. As a child on a tobacco farm and, later, a farmer’s wife, Surratt’s loyalties skewed Southern and pro-slave: her family owned seven slaves. In 1851, her family farm burned to the ground, allegedly set ablaze by an escaped slave. By the time her openly secessionist husband died in 1862, her home was being used as a safe house for Confederate spies. The death of her husband, who was heavily in debt, led to a series of financial catastrophes for Surratt, which eventually prompted her to move to Washington, D.C. and open a boardinghouse in 1864. (The house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is now a sushi restaurant and karaoke spot).

It’s unclear how much Surratt knew about the use of her boardinghouse—or the tavern she owned nearby—as a place of Confederate conspiracy. Her own son, John Surratt, Jr., was a member of the Confederate Secret Service, and by late 1864 her house had a frequent visitor, an actor named John Wilkes Booth.

On the night of Lincoln’s assassination, Mary Surratt’s boardinghouse was visited by members of another police force: The District of Columbia was seeking not only Booth, but also Surratt’s son, who was suspected of helping attack U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward, who was shot by one of Booth’s accomplices, Lewis Powell, as Lincoln was being attacked across town. One historian calls Mary Surratt’s testimony under police questioning “confident and arrogant.”

She claimed ignorance of any plot to kill the President, despite testimony from her tavern keeper that she had told him to keep guns at the ready on the day of the assassination—guns that were later used to kill Lincoln. This testimony linked her to Booth and other conspirators, including her son. The tavern keeper, John Lloyd, reportedly cried out “Mrs. Surratt, that vile woman, she has ruined me!” when he heard of Lincoln’s murder.

Surratt was imprisoned in the Old Capital Prison along with the owner of Ford’s Theatre, Booth’s brother, Dr. Samuel Mudd and many other suspected co-conspirators. She was tried by a military tribunal instead of a civil court, a move that seems to have been motivated by lingering distrust between North and South, bitterness over the assassination and a desire to get to the bottom of the conspiracy.

At her trial, Surratt was defended by several priests and friends the New York Times called “constant and faithful.” But their testimony and her own protestations of innocence were not enough. Not only was she convicted, she was sentenced to death, along with the other alleged co-conspirators, on June 30, 1865. It was a move that shocked the country.

Despite last-minute attempts to gain clemency and commute her sentence to life in prison, Mary Surratt was executed by hanging on July 7 of that year. Dressed in black, she led the procession of prisoners to their death. Before she was hanged, she is reported to have asked the guard near her not to let her fall.

Surratt never stopped defending her innocence—and nor did her co-conspirators. Before being executed, the co-conspirator who shot Seward claimed she was innocent (a debate that still continues to this day). But what of her suspected conspirator son? Just call him the one who got away: though he was tried in civil court in 1867, the government dropped all charges against him—despite his admission that he had been part of a conspiracy to kidnap the President.

TIME Crime

Which State Will Be Next to Abolish the Death Penalty?

Death Penalty Nebraska
Nate Jenkins—AP Nebraska's lethal injection chamber at the State Penitentiary in Lincoln, Neb. On May 27, Nebraska became the 19th state to repeal the death penalty.

Several more are primed to repeal capital punishment

Nebraska became the first Republican-leaning state in four decades to abolish the death penalty on Wednesday, the latest signal that momentum is on the side of those who oppose capital punishment. And in the next few years, it’s likely that several more states will outlaw the practice.

Delaware may be the next in line. Governor Jack Markell, a Democrat, has pledged to sign a death penalty repeal bill that has already passed the Senate and is currently in the majority Democratic House Judiciary Committee. That’s only if Montana or New Hampshire don’t get there first; state lawmakers in Montana fell one vote short of passing a bill to abolish the death penalty in February, reaching a 50-50 split on the bill after the Senate passed its own version. Similarly, the New Hampshire Senate also reached a deadlocked repeal vote in April 2014.

But there’s a whole list of states that might yet follow in Nebraska’s footsteps. The seven states that have now done away with capital punishment since 2007 all had one thing in common: they essentially had stopped using their execution chambers altogether. And six states with death penalty laws still on the books — Colorado, Kansas, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wyoming—haven’t executed anyone in more than a decade.

“When you look at most repeals, they were all in states in which the death penalty had fallen into disuse,” says Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, an anti-death penalty group. “Nebraska followed in the pattern of states in which the death penalty had been functionally discarded in practice.”

According to the Pew Research Center, 56% of Americans still support the death penalty, but that number is at its lowest in four decades. Opposition is coming not just from Democrats, who have historically opposed capital punishment, but increasingly from Republicans who believe the death penalty is too costly and does nothing to deter people from the most heinous of crimes.

In both Kansas and Wyoming — states which haven’t executed anyone in years — conservative lawmakers have introduced repeal legislation in both states, and in South Dakota, another red-leaning state, several conservative legislators have voiced support for doing away with capital punishment. Last year, legislators in the South Dakota House were one vote shy of getting a bill to the floor.

“The death penalty is no longer getting a pass,” says Diann Rust-Tierney, executive director for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. “People may support the idea in the abstract, but when they see how it’s done, how it’s doing nothing to enhance public safety, and when they see innocent people being released from death row, they see that they can’t square it with their other values.”

TIME justice

Why This Red State Is Poised to End the Death Penalty

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is seen through bars during a tour of the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution in Tecumseh, Neb., on May 19, 2015.
Nati Harnik—AP Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is seen through bars during a tour of the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution in Tecumseh, Neb., on May 19, 2015.

It would be the first conservative state to do so since 1973

As a college student in the mid-1990s, Colby Coash attended an execution at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln. Two groups gathered to bear witness. On one side were death-penalty opponents, who prayed quietly. On the other side, the atmosphere was festive.

“It was like a tailgate party,” Coash recalls, replete with a band and barbecue, and locals banging on pots and pans. As the minutes ticked toward midnight and the condemned was strapped into the electric chair, the crowd drank beer and counted down “like it was New Year’s Eve,” says Coash, who supported the death penalty at the time. “Later, it didn’t feel right. I didn’t like how it felt to be a part of the celebration of somebody’s death.”

Coash now serves in Lincoln as a state senator, and on Wednesday he was among a cadre of conservatives who voted to abolish the death penalty in Nebraska. If the measure becomes law, Nebraska would become the first red state to ban capital punishment since North Dakota in 1973.

Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican who supports the death penalty, has threatened to veto the bill. But Wednesday’s 32-15 margin in the Nebraska legislature indicates supporters have the votes to override such a move. Ricketts has five days to sign or veto the measure before it automatically becomes law.

The landmark vote was a reflection of the shifting politics of criminal justice. For decades, law-and-order conservatives have been staunch proponents of capital punishment. But in recent years, a growing number of Republicans have begun to oppose the death penalty, arguing it violates the central tenets of conservatism.

“It does things that are cardinal sins for conservatives,” says Marc Hyden, a former NRA staffer from Georgia who serves as coordinator of a national group called Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. “It risks innocent life. It wastes taxpayer money when there’s cheaper alternatives, and fails to be representative of a limited government—while it meanwhile fails to deter crime.”

Overall, Americans’ support for the death penalty is relatively stable, according to a 2015 Gallup poll that found 63% of respondents favored capital punishment for convicted murderers. But among conservatives, support for the practice appears to be dropping, though it remains high. In 2014, Gallup found that 76% of Republicans supported the death penalty, down from 81% the year before. Says Hyden: “It’s just a broken government program that conservatives are speaking out against in greater numbers nationally.”

Eighteen states have banned the death penalty, mostly in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. Nebraska might seem an unlikely candidate to join them. The state is a conservative stronghold, and while its unicameral legislature is officially nonpartisan, 36 of its 49 seats are held by Republicans.

But the Cornhusker State has been down this road before. In 1979, a bill banning capital punishment passed the legislature before it was vetoed by the governor. Though Nebraska has 11 inmates on death row, no one has been executed in the state since 1997. In 2013 some observers believed there were enough votes to pass such a measure, though not enough to override a veto. The current legislature had voted twice already to abolish the death penalty.

In preparation for the push, opponents of the death penalty lobbied lawmakers extensively, circulating studies that show the practice is ineffective as a deterrent to crime and enlisting the family members of murder victims to testify about how the endless appeals process compounded their grief.

Stacy Anderson, a conservative Christian and former Republican operative who directs a group called Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said the unique nature of the state legislature—the only nonpartisan, unicameral legislature in the U.S.—helped break down traditional partisan lines. “It’s a very cordial, small body,” Anderson says. “They engage the issues far beyond the regular political rhetoric.”

Some conservatives originally ducked meetings on the topic, Anderson added. Over time, a number came to change their minds. “They learned how much it cost, the risk of executing innocents, how it didn’t align with pro-life values,” she says.

Death penalty opponents hope Nebraska’s vote will be the beginning of a trend. A push to abolish capital punishment in conservative Montana fell one vote short earlier this year. Anti-death penalty legislation has also been introduced in Kansas.

Before the vote Wednesday, Ricketts released a statement urging lawmakers to listen to their constituents. “No one has traveled the state more than I have in the past 18 months, and everywhere I go there is overwhelming support for keeping the death penalty in Nebraska,” he said, calling a vote to abolish the death penalty a vote to “give our state’s most heinous criminals more lenient sentences. This isn’t rhetoric. This is reality.”

For Coash, that’s precisely the point. “People sent me here to Lincoln to find and root out government waste,” he says. In addition to the expense, he came to believe that the protracted appeals process prevented the families of victims from achieving closure. “Justice delayed is justice denied,” he says. And “I’m a pro-life guy. I couldn’t reconcile my pro-life beliefs regarding the unborn with doing something different with the condemned.”

TIME Crime

A Gruesome Historical Argument Against the Death Penalty

Prison
Frank van den Bergh—Getty Images

May 4, 1990: A death-row inmate in Florida dies in a botched execution by electric chair

It’s not easy being an executioner. Doing the job well earns no one’s praise; doing it badly leads to accusations of cruel and unusual punishment. Such was the charge on this day, May 4, in 1990, when a Florida inmate’s death by electric chair ended in torture for the inmate and trauma for horrified observers.

Jesse Tafero was convicted of fatally shooting two police officers during a 1976 traffic stop. By the time of his death, the electric chair was Florida’s standard method of execution. But because of what critics have described as poor training for executioners and limited oversight for executions themselves, the process did not go smoothly.

The trouble began when a sponge used in the chair’s headpiece wore out and had to be replaced. “There’s no factory or parts catalog for execution devices, so the prison sent a guy to pick up a sponge at the store,” TIME later reported. “Problem was, he bought a synthetic sponge instead of a genuine sea sponge”; the latter type was required to handle the electric current without catching fire.

Catch fire it did. Flames on Tafero’s head were nearly a foot high, according to one witness, but initially failed to kill him. The current was reapplied three times, since he was still breathing after the first two times.

“It takes seven minutes before the prison doctor pronounces him dead, seven minutes of heaving, nodding, flame, and smoke,” the witness, Ellen McGarrahan, wrote for Slate.

Tafero’s death breathed new life into the national debate over the death penalty — particularly regarding the humaneness of execution methods and whether they are sufficiently regulated. Tafero’s wasn’t the first or the last to end in torture, after all: The 2014 book Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America’s Death Penalty concludes that at least three percent of all American executions from 1890 to 2010 were botched, and lists 276 that are known to have gone wrong out of the roughly 9,000 over that time span.

The manner of Tafero’s death didn’t stop Florida lawmakers from continuing to embrace the electric chair. But a nearly identical malfunction occurred in 1997, during the execution of convicted murderer Pedro Medina, leaving one witness to remark, per Gruesome Spectacles, “[A] solid flame covered his whole head, from one side to the other. I had the impression of somebody being burned alive.” The state finally switched to death by lethal injection in 2000.

And while lethal injection is now the primary execution method in all states that enforce the death penalty, it is not without its own detractors. In 2008, arguments against the three-drug cocktail used by Kentucky (and other states) reached the Supreme Court, which ruled that the method did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The court is now hearing a similar case, this time brought by death-row inmates in Oklahoma, over whether a sedative used in lethal injections is strong enough to prevent undue suffering. If the court rules against this method, according to the New York Times, some states will consider resurrecting the electric chair.

But Tafero’s execution also became a talking point in another argument against the death penalty: the possibility of killing the wrong person. After Tafero’s harrowing death, the key witness against him admitted that he himself had pulled the trigger in the traffic-stop gunfight. Although prosecutors continued to insist that they’d gotten the right man, many concluded that Tafero was, in fact, innocent.

Read more about the Supreme Court and the death penalty, here in the TIME archives: Death Penalty Walking

TIME indonesia

How Indonesia’s Migrant Workers Helped Save the Life of Mary Jane Veloso

Indonesia Executions
Tatan Syuflana—AP Marites Veloso, front center, sister of Filipina migrant worker on death row for drug offenses Mary Jane Veloso, is surrounded by media at Wijayapura port in Cilacap, Indonesia, after visiting her sister on April 29, 2015

The Filipina maid was walking toward the execution ground when she was told she was granted a temporary reprieve

Some minutes after the stroke of midnight on Wednesday, eight men walked to the execution ground on the Indonesian island of Nusakambangan. The prisoners, who belonged to different faiths, all chose not to be blindfolded and reportedly sang the Christian hymn “Amazing Grace” until the executioners’ bullets were fired, killing them.

Pastor Karina de Vega, who was with the condemned drug convicts until the last moment, told the Sydney Morning Herald, “They bonded together. Brotherhood.”

The world had joined together in pleading to Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who vows not to grant clemency to drug convicts on death row, to spare the prisoners’ lives. Their pleas fell onto deaf ears: the Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the Bali Nine pair who had outwardly repented during the decade they spent at a Bali prison; the four Nigerians who included the so-called Death-Row Gospel Singer; one poor Indonesian laborer; and one mentally ill Brazilian died at around 12:25 a.m. local time on Wednesday. Some of them still had ongoing legal appeals.

Jokowi decided to spare the life of the ninth drug convict, however. At literally the last minute, as Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina migrant worker, was walking out from her cell to the execution ground, she was told she was granted a temporary reprieve.

The delay came after a woman who allegedly recruited Veloso surrendered to the Philippine authorities on Tuesday afternoon. (Veloso maintains she was a victim of human trafficking and duped into carrying 2.6 kg of heroin into Indonesia.) Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, who had met Jokowi on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, made another appeal to his Indonesian counterpart to spare the 30-year-old Filipina the next day, saying she could be a key witness in prosecuting drug syndicates.

“The execution of Mary Jane has been postponed because there was a request from the Philippine President related to a perpetrator who surrendered herself in the Philippines,” Tony Spontana, spokesman for the Indonesian Attorney General’s Office, told reporters on Wednesday morning. “Mary Jane has been asked to testify.”

Manila’s diplomatic pressures aside, Indonesian migrant activists and women’s-rights activists also played a big role in actively lobbying on behalf of Veloso and helped spark a social-media campaign in Indonesia. The National Commission on Violence Against Women says Veloso was a victim of domestic abuse who, driven by poverty, went to work as a helper in Dubai to support her two sons, but returned home after she was nearly raped by her employer. Driven by desperation, she accepted a job offer in Kuala Lumpur, which led to her arrest in Yogyakarta in 2010. It’s a story that resonates in Indonesia, where millions of women seek work abroad as domestic helpers to support their families, frequently falling victim to ill treatment, exploitation and abuse.

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, a former Indonesian helper whose severe abuse in the hands of her Hong Kong employer made international headlines, called Veloso a “friend” and, just hours before the scheduled execution, joined other Indonesian citizens in pleading to Jokowi to save Veloso’s life. Sringatin, a migrant worker and activist in Hong Kong, took part in rallies in Jakarta; her fellow worker-activist Eni Lestari led protests in front of the Indonesian consulate general in Hong Kong. Two female legislators from Jokowi’s party, Eva Sundari and Rieke Diah Pitaloka, also voiced their support to the Filipina prisoner.

Anis Hidayah, executive director of Jakarta-based Migrant Care, is among workers’-rights activists who have been campaigning for Veloso. When she attended Jokowi’s emergency meeting to discuss Veloso’s case on Tuesday afternoon, she tells TIME, “I told the President that [Indonesian] migrant workers on death row overseas are in the same position like Mary Jane, they are all victims. As I spoke, I couldn’t help crying.”

Six million Indonesian migrant workers remitted $8.55 billion to their families last year — a record high — according to the World Bank (in contrast, the Philippines’ 12 million workers remitted $28.4 billion back home last year, the biggest in Southeast Asia). But there’s a grim fact: there are hundreds of Indonesians currently on death row overseas (the Indonesian government says there are 229, but Migrant Care puts the number at 290). Jokowi has vowed to fight for their lives, despite his hard-line approach to drug convicts on death row back home.

The latest executions “will have a big impact,” says Anis, whose organization opposes the death penalty. “It will create an obstacle and narrow down the Indonesian government’s room for diplomacy to free migrant workers from death row overseas.”

It isn’t clear yet what will happen to Veloso: if her alleged recruiter is found guilty, whether she would have a new trial. On Wednesday, Jokowi said Veloso’s execution “is only delayed, not canceled.” But Anis vows that migrant-workers’-rights groups from Indonesia and the Philippines will keep on fighting for Veloso.

And, after all the controversy surrounding the latest round of executions, the activist says, “I hope it can be a valuable lesson for the law enforcement that death-penalty decisions should not be made carelessly.”

TIME indonesia

Indonesian Media Says 8 Foreign Drug Smugglers Executed

PHILIPPINES-INDONESIA-CRIME-DRUGS-EXECUTION
Ted Aljibe—AFP/Getty Images Activists hold candles and placards with portraits of Mary Jane Veloso in front of the Indonesian embassy in Manila, Philippines on April 28, 2015.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo rejected clemency appeals

Eight drug convicts, all foreigners, were reportedly executed by firing squad in Indonesia on Wednesday, after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo rejected pleas from foreign governments and thousands of his own citizens to halt the executions.

The inmates, four Nigerians, two Australians, one Brazilian and one Indonesian, were killed on the Nusakambangan prison island early Wednesday, the Jakarta Post reports. But another condemned prisoner, Filipina domestic helper Mary Jane Veloso, was spared at least temporarily after new evidence came to light confirming her claim she was tricked into smuggling drugs.

The executed inmates included Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Australians who were part of the Bali Nine drug-smuggling group. Their former lawyer, Mohammad Irfan, has alleged to the Sydney Morning Herald that judges asked for more than $77,000 in bribes to give the pair a lighter sentence, and he also accuses Jakarta of political interference — once again putting a spotlight on Indonesia’s judicial system, which is largely seen as corrupt.

A Frenchman, Serge Atlaoui, was earlier given a temporary reprieve pending a legal appeal, which was granted after French President François Hollande warned: “If he is executed, there will be consequences with France and Europe.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Nobel Peace Prize laureate (and former East Timorese President) José Ramos-Horta, boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, British tycoon and adventurer Richard Branson and iconic hard-rock guitarist Tony Iommi were among the chorus of foreign leaders, fellow celebrities, local and overseas activists and ordinary people asking that the convicts’ lives be spared.

Families of the condemned came to Nusakambangan to spend the last hours with their loved ones, as police and military stepped up security there and in Cilacap. Chan, who was ordained as minister in the decade he spent at a Bali prison, asked to go to church with his family during his last days, said his brother Michael. As his last wish, Sukumaran, who began painting while incarcerated in Bali, has asked “to paint as long and as much as possible,” his brother Chinthu said. One of his latest self-portraits shown to journalists depicts a harrowing image of the artist shot through the heart.

Read next: Inside Indonesia’s Islamic Boarding School for Transgender People

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME indonesia

The Execution of Several Foreigners in Indonesia Appears Imminent

President Joko Widodo has said he will not interfere

Correction appended, April 24

In a sign that it may be preparing to put 10 mostly foreign drug offenders to death, Indonesia has asked foreign diplomats to travel Saturday to visit the maximum-security prison on the island of Nusakambangan where the inmates are being held.

According to Reuters, the legally required 72-hour notice has not been announced but a diplomat the news agency spoke with on condition of anonymity said, “We still don’t know when the actual date of the execution will happen but we expect that it will be in days.”

On Tuesday, through the state-owned news agency Antara, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the executions were “only awaiting the conclusion of all procedures and the legal process, which I will not interfere in. It is only a matter of time.”

The condemned include Australian, Brazilian, French and Nigerian nationals, as well as a Filipina maid named Mary Jane Veloso who has sparked a social-media campaign for clemency.

Also set to be executed are the two Australian ringleaders of the Bali Nine drug-smuggling group, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Repeated appeals to spare their lives have been made by the Australian government and the case has created tensions between the two countries. France also blasted the Indonesian legal system on Thursday.

According to David McRae, a senior research fellow at the Asia Institute in the University of Melbourne, who wrote an analysis paper on the subject in 2012, Jakarta is torn between domestic and international considerations. “One [stream of thought] relishes the opportunity for the government to present itself as firm in the face of international pressure,” he tells TIME. “But I think there are others who are concerned at the prospect of Indonesia’s relations with various of its important international partners becoming mired in needless rancor.”

Indonesia has severe punishments for drug offenses and has once again started implementing the death penalty after a five-year stoppage.

[Reuters]

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly described the drug offenders. Nine are foreigners and one is Indonesian.

TIME indonesia

The Internet Is Begging the Indonesian Government to Spare a Filipina Single Mother’s Life

A protester holds a placard urging the Philippine and Indonesian government to save Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina facing execution in Indonesia, during a protest in front of the Indonesian embassy in Makati city
Romeo Ranoco—Reuters A protester holds a placard urging the Philippine and Indonesian governments to save Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina facing execution in Indonesia, during a protest in front of the Indonesian embassy in Manila on April 24, 2015

"Is my President a murderer?”

As the executions of 10 drug convicts loom in Indonesia, a massive social-media campaign has kicked off in support of Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipina maid set to face the firing squad.

The hashtag #MaryJane was the No. 2 trending topic on Indonesia’s Twittersphere on Friday morning, hours after Veloso was transferred to the execution island of Nusakambangan. As her family flew to the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, where Veloso was held, Indonesians rallied to urge President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, to spare the life of the 30-year-old migrant worker.

Indonesian celebrity chef Rahung Nasution launched a tweet storm on Friday morning, detailing how Veloso ended up in an Indonesian prison and how the Indonesian government handled her case. “Jokowi is not battling drugs. He is executing poor women, like the migrant workers in Saudi Arabia!! #MaryJane,” Rahung tweeted, referring to the two Indonesian domestic workers executed in the Middle East country last week.

Dewi Candraningrum, the chief editor of feminist magazine Jurnal Perempuan (Women’s Journal), uploaded her charcoal-on-paper drawing Mary Jane and tweeted, “She is a victim of trafficking. Is my President a murderer?” The National Commission on Violence Against Women also posted a series of tweets on why the government should not execute Veloso.

One Twitter user wrote, “I agree with death penalty for drug cases, as long as it’s for big-time drug dealers, not couriers or duped victims like #MaryJane.”

Another tweeted, “Sorry for #MaryJane how is it possible for a victim of a drug dealer is sentenced to death. As if people’s life is a plaything.”

While local support for other foreign drug convicts has been muted, there is a wider sympathy toward Veloso, a single mother of two, who said she was not a drug dealer but a victim of trafficking and was duped into carrying narcotics into the country. She was initially promised a job in Malaysia, but upon arrival there, she was told her job was in Indonesia. While in Malaysia, the drugs were secretly sewn into a suitcase she was lent, her family said. She was arrested at Yogyakarta airport in April 2010 after authorities found 2.6 kg of heroin in her suitcase. She was found guilty and sentenced to death later that year.

Veloso launched her first appeal in March, questioning the competence of the translator provided to her during the trial, but it was rejected by the Indonesian Supreme Court. She was transferred from Yogyakarta’s prison to Nusakambangan execution island at 1 a.m. on Friday.

On Friday, the Philippine government filed a second appeal for judicial review on behalf of Veloso in another attempt to save her life.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com