Starting the day with a death – then on with life

This morning’s execution of Van Nguyen casts a discernable shadow over today. I’ve written all I need to on this – see past entries here and here and here.

The news bulletins and the questioning from journos when I came into Parliament House this morning had a lot of focus on this event. However, the workplace relations debate and the government’s overall approach of guillotining through a range of major pieces of legislation also got attention. Understandably, the political debate will quickly shift back fully to these other issues.

As 9am – the time of execution – approached, I attended a vigil outside the Singapore High Commission, just down the road from Parliament House. There were around 100 people, including about 6 Senators from Democrats, Labor and Greens, bearing silent witness. A book was there where people could write messages to Van Nguyen’s mother.

After that, it was back to the Senate, which resumed at 9.30am with more debate on amendments to the workplace laws….. and so life goes on.

I hope all those concerned by this event will put some energy into increasing efforts to get capital punishment abolished throughout the world, rather than just have concerns re-appear when the next Australian is involved. It is the best way to try to get something good to come out of such a sad and bad event.

There are many, many posts around the Australian blogosphere (and beyond) on this topic. It has generated a lot of reflections on many of the ‘personal’ style blogs, as well as the more politically oriented. : Catallaxy, John Quiggin, 52nd State (crossposted at Larvatus Prodeo), Sailing Close to the Wind, Margot Kingston, The Road to Surfdom, Naomi on LP, Kristin, Dunc Nuggets, Adelaide Ghost Hunter, Bilegrip (starts with a good Lincoln quote – “I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice”), An Angel’s Space, A Wanderer, Hayley, Knitting and Knotting from Wagga Wagga, Leyden’s Jar, Industrial Dollhouse, Mahler’s Prodigal Son, Up43.com, Rank and Vile, Comic Books and Candy, the Reverend’s Rant, Political Musings (quotes Eric Bogle), Joanne Jacobs, Glutbusters (via Jellyfish), Jess at Ausculture, Dog or Higher (who looks like he normally just writes about software), flextime, Darlene Taylor, Barista.

Finally, Mark Thomson at Seeking Asylum Down Under has many posts and links going back quite some time. A good media report outlining a few of the experiences of the person everyone feels sorriest for – Van’s mother – can be found here. And a short descriptive piece from 1931 by George Orwell called ‘The Hanging’ (found through Pavlov’s Cat).

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  1. I attended the vigil in Sydney last night and realised as we all stood there with our candles that there was a point where we would have to extinguish the candle and what that symbolised. That moment when I blew out the candle was horrible. This morning what I hoped wouldn’t happen, did happen.

    Each one of us must do more to end the death penalty. The execution of an Australian citizen has uncovered the extent of the use of the death penalty around the world and I hope we don’t just get on with our lives unaffected.

  2. What value an Australian passport?

    I’m used to being treated like a criminal by Australian customs on returning to my country, but I’ve never been so aware of what little value an Australian passport has in the world these days.

    Alexander Downer is the last person in the world I would want representing my interests should I find myself in trouble in another country.

    And the shameful representation by our government on behalf of David Hicks. I will always be proud to be Australian but perhaps not always proud of everything that happens in our country.

    Life is short, even at the best of times. I hope Van enjoyed his 25 years on this planet.

  3. It’s times like this that I’m glad I’ve a second passport, and can pick and choose any EU country to live in. I feel sorry for those who do not have the option of escaping Australia and it’s increasingly fascist and trade driven ways, as I feel that things will get a lot worse in the years to come before they get better. I feel now that my only obligation to this country (whether here or absent) is to keep voting until we’ve once again found a balance in the political sphere – one that has the chance of serving the Australian people and basic human rights rather than trade and business interests of large corporations.

  4. I believe we can still flee to New Zealand Rob. And it’s looking better all the time. Gutsy little country New Zealand…

  5. Van Nguyens brother
    should be in the best postion to be a leader and a shinning beakon to young people using drugs trafficking them and gambling as well.
    I hope for his mothers sake if not his brothers that he uses his expereince to carry out this trype of work and not canvass to change other countries laws.
    His brother was carrying enough to dose thousands of people .
    Its important we remember that.
    His mother will need something to do after a while in her sons memory perhaps the democrates could source her a small amount of funding to carry on her sons work should he have been allowed to live.

    That might be a nice thing to do for her and others after a time of grieving.
    Just a thought.
    I hope all this goes to something positive rather than others encouraging more distance between their people and ours.
    Remember they hang many over there and we dont stand up for their people and say they should not be hung.
    Has someone offered to help this woman with funeral costs.
    Thats something we can do for this women who is a victim of kids not giving a dam about anything other than raising quick money even if it kills others.Poor woman.

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