The road to redemption for the two 'Bali Nine' men set to be executed soon

This article is more than 12 months old

The execution date is fast approaching for two members of the "Bali Nine" group, as it is believed that their execution by firing squad will likely take place tonight at Nusa Kambangan. 

Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were convicted in 2006 of running a drug smuggling operation and were caught exporting heroin.

The two were given 72 hours' notice on Saturday (April 25) of the impending execution, after multiple failed appeals.

Their families were told to say their final goodbyes and it has been reported that they are returning from the island.

The execution date and time has yet to be announced.

Seven other prisoners are expected to be executed along with Sukumaran and Chan. They were imprisoned for unrelated drug crimes.

However, Sukumaran and Chan have received the most media attention because of Australia's unrelenting efforts to plead with Indonesian president Joko Widodo for clemency.

And there is overwhelming support for the pair, as they have actively sought to change and improve Kerobakan prison through rehabilitation and classes.

So who are these men?

Myuran Sukumaran

Together with Chan, he was the mastermind of the drug smuggling ring.

But Myuran has dedicated his life behind bars to reforming and rehabilitating - and that includes the other prisoners too.

An avid painter, he introduced art classes in 2007 with the help of prison volunteer Lizzy Love.

Some of Sukumaran's paintings, which have been brought back from Nusa Kambangan by their lawyers. 

Sukumaran was concerned about how institutionalised the prison system was. Love said that these prisoners were miserable and often had no idea of what day it was.

When the art course was approved, it was soon apparent that it was a success.

Love told the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH): "I've never in my life had students that attentive. Pretty soon, we started to see paintings go up on the wall of their cells."

Soon, reformist prison governor, Pak Siswanto, who also testified on behalf of the two for the death penalty to be lifted, allowed other activities such as computer graphics and sewing lessons.

These new skills were used by inmates to establish a t-shirt printing business. 

Despite the crime that he was jailed for, he had an extremely tough stance against drug use in the prison, which was a rampant problem when the men arrived.

However, now, thanks to Sukumaran, the drug problem has largely been controlled, the SMH reported. 

Now, with the execution looming, many fear that the prison will soon be run by the drug overlords. 

Sukumaran, who worked on getting a degree in fine arts in prison, has been painting regularly throughout his stay.

One of his final paintings was of a bleeding heart, and it was signed by all nine prisoners set to be executed.



A self-portrait of Sukumaran looking resigned and up towards the sky. This was titled 'Second last day'.

​Andrew Chan

Ahead of the execution, Chan has married his girlfriend Febyanti Herewila (below, in white) in prison in a ceremony attended by family and close friends. 

His brother, Mr Michael Chan, said: "It was an enjoyable moment.

"It's tough times, but happy times at the same time," said Mr Chan.

Yet, he still held out hope that Mr Widodo will "show some compassion, some mercy - so these two young people can carry on with their lives".

Chan met Febyanti in jail, where they met through a mutual friend.

She is an Indonesian pastor who regularly went to the jail as part of her outreach work.

Chan too had converted to Chrstianity during his time in jail. And he is now a pastor.

Together with Sukumaran, he too is responsible for the extensive rehabilitation programs that run across the prison.

He organised many courses and also provided English-language church service in the prison.

Chan was also a mentor to many.

Sources: Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Guardian