Napalm Death Makes Plea to Indonesia’s Heavy Metal President to Stop the Execution of a Drug-Smuggling Grandmother

How’s that for a headline? And it’s all true.

The current president of Indonedia, Joko Widodo, is a major fan of metal. And not just any metal. He’s into the heavy and dark stuff. See?


He makes Stephen Harper, Barack Obama and David Cameron look like musical wimps. And given some of the hardline religious opposition to certain forms of music (cf. Lady Gaga), it’s pretty ballsy of him to declare his metal-ness so publicly.

Now to the grandmother.  In May 2012, Lindsay Sandiford, a 57 year-old British grandmother, arrived at the airport on Denpasar, Bali, with $3 million of cocaine on her person. As someone who has been to Indonesia three times (twice to Bali), I can tell you that Indonesia officials do not take kindly to drug smuggling–especially by foreigners.  Despite protestations that she was set up–Thai drug lords demanded that she be their mule lest something bad happen to her family–she was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to death by firing squad.  With no money to afford a lawyer, she hasn’t been able to file for clemency and to challenge her death sentence.

This is where Napalm Death comes in. They’re very aware of President Widodo’s love for the band’s music. So they wrote him a letter.

Dear Mr Widodo,

I am writing to you again to appeal for mercy and restraint, this time regarding the case of Lindsay Sandiford, a prisoner from the UK who it would seem is facing the prospect of imminent execution on the grounds of cocaine trafficking.

My request for a considered, humane perspective extends to all prison detainees, but particularly in the case of Lindsay Sandiford it would appear that she was under duress to transport drugs, with her family under threat if she did not comply.

Speaking generally, there have been countless miscarriages of justice and excessive punishments throughout history, and when the designated penalty is death I would suggest that someone potentially faced with no option but to bow to such a threat deserves far greater hearing and protection from the gravest of penalties. 

Currently, Lindsay Sandiford has not seemingly been afforded the legal resources to present her case, so to deal with her case in the cruellest way would be to do so on a partial hearing of the facts at hand and not upon any form of justice as I understand the concept.

For the second time, Mr Widodo, I would ask you to raise yourself above the threshold of all those in power that merely pretend to make changes for the better. To my mind, your election platform promises of moves toward a more egalitarian civic structure means protection at all levels – and capital punishment can only take things backwards in that respect.

I ask you to please keep these promises at the forefront of your mind and urgently give your attention to Lindsay Sandiford’s plight.

In peace and hope, as ever

Mark ‘Barney’ Greenway (Napalm Death)

As of this moment, there’s been no response from President Widodo. And it looks grim because he’s on record of saying that he will reject all appeals for clemency in drug case.

Can the power of metal change his mind? We’ll see. (Via The Independent)

Still with Indonesia, a Triple J radio program out of Australia has annoyed authorities with the results of a poll regarding drug smugglers and executions. Indonesia used the results o the poll to justify the execution of nine people. Details here.

We’re thinking of a trip to Bali in April. Maybe not…

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “Napalm Death Makes Plea to Indonesia’s Heavy Metal President to Stop the Execution of a Drug-Smuggling Grandmother

  • February 6, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    This is an intriguing post! I absolutely love how there is support out there for Lindsay, I personally feel that she definitely deserves a chance to challenge her execution; death by firing squad is an awful and inhumane way of death and the fact that Napalm Death share the same opinion is amazing! This finally makes me think that some negotiation can be made in order to help support Lindsay!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.