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Indonesia Facing Diplomatic Backlash Over Drug Smugglers' Executions

An ambulance carrying a coffin arrives at the ferry crossing to Nusa Kambangan prison at Wijayapura quay, Cilacap, Central Java, Jan. 17, 2015.

Indonesia is facing widespread international criticism after putting six convicted drug offenders -- including five foreign nationals -- before the firing squad. Two countries which tried to appeal to authorities to commute the death sentences for their citizens have recalled their ambassadors from Jakarta.

Brazil and the Netherlands withdrew their ambassadors from Jakarta after Indonesia’s president spurned the appeals of the two countries not to execute their nationals.

They were among six convicted drug offenders who were killed by a firing squad on Sunday.

One of those executed was an Indonesian. The other foreigners who were shot to death, besides the Brazilian and Dutch citizens, were from Malawi, Nigeria and Vietnam.

Amnesty International criticizes the executions as a "retrograde step for human rights" in Indonesia.

Two Australians, sentenced to death in 2006 after being convicted as the ring leaders of the so-called Bali Nine heroin smugglers, also face imminent execution.

Indonesia resumed executions in 2013 after a five-year hiatus but no death sentences were carried out last year.

President Joko Widodo took office in October and has said there will be no easing of the country’s tough stance against drug smugglers.

Australia has been pleading with the Indonesian president to grant clemency to its two citizens on death row.

Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop declined to say whether Canberra would also recall its ambassador should Jakarta follow through on its threat to execute the Australians.

“It's been a long standing position of successive Australian governments to oppose the death penalty so the Indonesia government is in no doubt where the Australian government stands on this issue,” said Bishop.

Indonesia’s attorney general, Muhammad Prasetyo, has defended the executions of those who were on death row after convictions for serious narcotics crimes, saying it is necessary to protect the country against drugs.

The attorney general said Indonesia must be assertive and never compromise with perpetrators, dealers or syndicates involved in trafficking illegal drugs.

The Bali Nine drug ring members were convicted of attempting to smuggle into Indonesia more than eight kilograms of heroin nearly a decade ago.

The resort island of Bali is an especially popular travel destination for young Australians.