Australians Attempt Bali Boycott


In response to what is looking more and more like the lead up to the execution of two Australians on drugs charges by Indonesia, some ten years after they were first arrested, Australian tourists are attempting a boycott of Bali. The boycott has had mixed reactions.

Former Foreign Minister Bob Carr has spoken out against it as has a former ambassador to Indonesia. Many Indonesians have essentially said, good, stay away as we don’t like your behavior in our nation in any case. Carr could have been right when he said a public boycott may prompt a “nationalistic backlash.”

Bali is one of Australia’s favorite tourist destinations, being close to Australia, cheap and very beautiful. The bad behavior of a section of the visiting tourist population is well known and documented in major network television shows in Australia. The Bali Bombings of 2002 were designed to target young Australians, despite being carried out on Indonesian soil by terror group Jemaah Islamiah.

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However the Boycott Bali movement has gained some traction and has apparently been endorsed by Julie Bishop, the foreign minister. “I think the Australian people will demonstrate their deep disapproval of this action, including by making decisions about where they wish to holiday,” she said. The Australian government has very publicly pleaded for the lives of the two men, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumuran, but until recently took a softer approach, acknowledging Indonesia’s ultimate sovereignty. However, now the government is saying this may hurt relations between the nations and has backed the petition.

Of course, Bali and Denpasar are not Jakarta, where these decisions are made, something that many have already pointed out. The Balinese may be hurt by the possible downturn and this, it is hoped, will lead to pressure on Jakarta. However, it isn’t as though all Balinese support the death penalty or the president’s actions. A Four Corners report aired recently showed reporter Mark David interviewing a Balinese man, who said, “I mean, so most Balinese, they don’t agree about killing people” and worried about the effect the executions might have on the place. “They will think, ah, Bali is not, not safe place again.” Davis noted that, “Executions are foreign to Balinese culture and its Hindi religion, causing a growing unease amongst the Balinese.”

Member of Balinese-origin punk band Superman is Dead did not share the sentiment, calling the boycott an “overreaction… They (Australians) are over confident, they think that even the basics of Indonesian law can be influenced by their threats of boycott.” He noted the “trashy” behavior of many Aussies on holiday also.

Possibly the boycott will prompt some Australians to travel to a few other popular destinations, such as China, Thailand, the United States or Singapore, which executed Australian Nguyen Tuong Van at Changi Prison in 2005.

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