Deborah Cornwall reported this story on Friday, January 16, 2015 18:18:00

BRENDAN TREMBATH: After 10 years on death row in a Bali prison two Australian men have been told to start preparing themselves for death by firing squad.

The Indonesian Government last night announced six prisoners are now to be shot dead this Sunday. And Australia’s Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan are among another 58 inmates expected to be executed in the next few months.

Vice chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, Professor Greg Craven, has told Deborah Cornwall developments in Indonesia means mobilising public support for the Bali Nine pair is critical.

GREG CRAVEN: They are dressed in a white garment with a red heart over their heart. They are given the option of standing, sitting or lying, depending on how terrified they are. A firing squad of 10 men stands a specified distance away from them, and on the command, they fire with the object of exploding the heart. That of course doesn’t always work and in the event that it doesn’t work, an officer will approach the person lying on the ground and blow their brains out.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: Professor Craven is just one of a number of high-profile Australians who’ve joined the lobby group Mercy Campaign in an eleventh-hour bid to save the two young Australians.

Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were part of the Bali Nine ring sentenced to death in 2006 for heroin smuggling.

But despite intense diplomatic lobbying by the Australian Government behind the scenes, Professor Craven believes the Abbott Government needs to ramp up the message to Indonesia that relations between the two countries will be permanently damaged if the executions go ahead.

GREG CRAVEN: The Australian Government has sent a clear message. What it’s said is, “We don’t want these people executed but we don’t want the relationship to suffer.” I think that message has to be recalibrated, nuanced the other way round.

The truth is, we don’t want Australians blown apart, and if they are, we know that the relationship will have to suffer. When we go to the point where, who knows, we end up with social media with smuggled pictures of two Australians tied to a stake riddled with bullets, does anyone really believe that’s going to help our relationship?

DEBORAH CORNWALL: So how critical is it, even now, that Australians get behind these two, or is it too late?

GREG CRAVEN: Look, it’s not too late. It is the case that the clock’s ticking towards midnight. But I think if Australians are opposed to this, they really have to make it clear. The attitude of Australia and Australians becomes part of the reason why these men will be executed if we are not sending the right signals to Indonesia. We, if we do nothing, we are literally standing behind the firing squad.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: Lawyer for the two prisoners Julian McMahon says Indonesia’s decision to push ahead with the executions has caught everyone off guard.

JULIAN MCMAHON: One of the many unfortunate things that is happening is that all 64 prisoners are being spoken of in a sweeping way as if they should all just be treated as one job lot.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: Unlike Sukumaran, Andrew Chan has not even formally been denied clemency and that at least gives the Australian Government some room for negotiation.

Julian McMahon:

JULIAN MCMAHON: Frankly, most of the future of this case will probably lie in the diplomatic and political arena, but it’s also very much an uphill battle.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: What impact has this latest news had on your two clients?

JULIAN MCMAHON: I’ve no doubt there’ll be taking it pretty hard now because for no good reason at all, there is a, something of a unnecessary, perhaps politicised sense of urgency that is floating around the shooting of these prisoners, and naturally that causes anxiety for everybody involved and nobody more than the prisoners themselves.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Lawyer Julian McMahon with Deborah Cornwall.