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Vigils for Chan, Sukumaran across Australia

Edith Visvanathan (right), the grandmother of Myuran Sukumaran, is accompanied by Pastor Mithran Chellappah as she speaks at the Ampuni Mercy vigil for Sukumaran and Andrew Chan at the C3 church in Sydney on Wednesday. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

Edith Visvanathan (right), the grandmother of Myuran Sukumaran, is accompanied by Pastor Mithran Chellappah as she speaks at the Ampuni Mercy vigil for Sukumaran and Andrew Chan at the C3 church in Sydney on Wednesday. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

Melbourne [AAP]

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran say they’re blessed despite their death sentences.

Ampuni – meaning mercy – vigils for the Bali Nine pair have been held across the country.

The convicted drug traffickers are due to face the firing squad in Indonesia this month despite repeated pleas from the Australian government.

Almost 2,500 people showed solidarity with the men at Melbourne’s Federation Square on Wednesday night.

They included relatives and friends as well as prominent figures such as Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, performer Eddie Perfect and musicians Clare Bowditch and Missy Higgins.

Letters, penned by Chan and Sukumaran, were read to the crowd.

Sukumaran said there were ‘no words’ for the support shown for the pair.

‘Whatever happens, I know that me and Andrew are good people now, and even though we have been in prison with a death sentence, we have been truly blessed,’ he wrote in the letter.

‘Blessed to have such beautiful family and friends, blessed to have received so much kindness, compassion, with people forgiving our stupidity and supporting our change for the better.’

Sukumaran’s cousin Andrew Rajeevan, who spoke with his sister Sonali and Chan’s close family friends Georgina and Sarah Smith, said he looked up to his cousin.

‘Every day is a bonus and every day is a second chance,’ he said.

Georgina said the Chan family was like any other.

‘The boys have changed, the boys have changed peoples’ lives, the boys have changed our lives,’ she said.

‘Give them life.’

Supreme Court Justice Lex Lasry, an anti-death penalty campaigner who visited Chan and Sukumaran in Indonesia last week, told the crowd Indonesia would be ‘killing an artist and a church pastor’ if they executed the men.

More than 200 people also gathered in Brisbane’s King George Square to hear members of the Queensland legal community voice their opposition to the planned executions.

Artist and friend of Sukumaran, Ben Quilty, said a church vigil in Sydney’s west was also filling up with people, while another vigil was being held in Perth.

‘I wish Myuran could be here to see it,’ Mr Quilty told AAP.

‘Right in the homeland of where the boys grew up.’

Mr Quilty was joined at the vigil by broadcasters Alan Jones and the Rev Bill Crews, as well as Chan family representatives.

Chan and Sukumaran’s scheduled transfer to the island prison of Nusakambangan for execution was delayed on Tuesday so authorities can build extra holding cells.

People have taken to social media to voice their disapproval, using the hashtag #IStandForMercy.

 


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