On the 12th of January this year, Christie Buckingham crawled into a ball on the sofa and sobbed.
It should have been the 32nd birthday of her friend, convicted drug trafficker Andrew Chan, but he was dead.
She didn’t want to speak with anyone, she didn’t want any consolation.
It was the first time she’d allowed herself a moment to cry since witnessing the brutal execution of Andrew and fellow “Bali Nine ringleader” Myuran Sukumaran last April, and she hoped this outpouring of tears would wash away some of the grief.
“I wept for the waste,” she says. “I wept for the total senselessness of it and the overwhelming feeling of injustice. It’s just too awful.”
Christie was the last person to see the young Australians alive. The mother of three, a minister at Melbourne’s Bayside Church, had been one of the pastoral carers to the convicted drug traffickers while they were on death row at Bali’s notorious Kerobokan Prison.
When their final appeal for clemency was rejected in January last year, Myuran asked her to be his official witness at the execution.
As the first anniversary of their deaths approaches, Christie has agreed to share intensely painful memories of that night to fulfil a pledge she made to Andrew and Myuran that she’d never give up fighting against the death penalty.
“Every day, Myu made me promise I would speak up and even in his final minutes, when he was chained to the pole waiting to be shot, he made me reiterate my vow,” Christine says. “Death by firing squad is so utterly barbaric and it achieves absolutely nothing."
Read more of this story in the April issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly, on sale now.