Asia Myuran Sukumaran’s friends and family sing death row hymns at funeral

Myuran Sukumaran’s friends and family sing death row hymns at funeral

Chintu Sukamaran (3rd left), in front of the hearse carrying his brother Myuran’s coffin
Chintu Sukamaran (3rd left), in front of the hearse carrying his brother Myuran’s coffin

Friends and family of Myuran Sukumaran have sung the same songs the convicted drug smuggler recited as he faced an Indonesian firing squad 10 days ago.

Amazing Grace and Hallelujah echoed through the Daysprings church in the Sydney suburb of Castle Hill on Saturday as hundreds gathered to farewell Sukumaran.

A tin of paint brushes next to Sukumaran’s coffin served as a poignant reminder of the passion the 34-year-old turned himself to while on death row in Indonesia.

Ivar Schou, a volunteer at Kerobokan prison, remembered the Bali Nine ringleader as a kind person who always thought of others.

“He had an inner strength and charisma I’ve never seen before,” he told the service.

“Until the end, under very difficult circumstances, in prison for 10 years, he was helping and comforting all others in Kerobokan prison in Bali,” Mr Schou said, adding he would work to abolish the death penalty. “I miss you so much my friend.”

Among the crowd was artist Ben Quility, who forged a close friendship with Sukumaran as his mentor.

The brother of fellow Bali Nine smuggler Andrew Chan, who was farewelled on Friday, Michael Chan, was also at the funeral, alongside Mr Sukumaran’s family.

Family and friends were wearing orange ribbons, to symbolise Mr Sukumaran’s favourite colour.

Mourners also sang Sukumaran’s favourite song, 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman.

His cousin Niranjela Karunatilake spoke of his selflessness, including selling his paintings to pay for an inmate’s life-saving operation.

“Myu taught us to love or how to love,” she said. “What the world is seeing now is what we already knew.”

Recent events are difficult to comprehend, Ms Karunatilake said, and left her questioning faith and hope. She said Sukumaran took care of and looked after fellow inmates at Kerobokan.

Describing him as a kind, gentle giant, she said he may have appeared intimidating but his smile dispelled the myth. “He smiled with his eyes, just like the way our grandmother does.”

But she said he knew in his heart he made a mistake. “He was young, and wanted to be successful,” she said. “He just chose the wrong way to go about it.”

In a message read out at the funeral, fellow Bali Nine inmate Matthew Norman paid tribute to his friend. “I was a boy when I got arrested and with the help of Myu over time I grew into a man and it’s thanks to him,” he wrote.

Sukumaran had helped countless prisoners, including drug addicts, dealers, murderers and thieves, said Norman.

Another inmate who shared a room with Sukumaran wrote even in his final moments, Sukumaran wanted to make sure the programs he oversaw in jail were in good hands.

Friend and artist Ben Quilty said Myuran didn’t want to die, but did so with courage and dignity.

“He used his visual language to tell the world who Myuran Sukumaran really was and right until the end he communicated with the world from an isolation cell with a firing squad preparing to put bullets through his chest,” Quilty said.

“Under unimaginable circumstances Myuran was making the most potent and powerful anti-death penalty images the world has seen in a long, long time.

“Myu did want to live. He had many paintings to make.”

Describing the end as horrific for Sukumaran, Quilty also shared a lighthearted moment from their final conversation.

“Myu did call me the day before he was executed,” an emotional Mr Quilty said.

“I saw the number coming in and I picked up the phone and I said ‘Myu’ and he said ‘is that the second best artist in Australia’.”

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