Celebs urge Australia PM Tony Abbott to do more to save 2 drug convicts on death row

SYDNEY (AFP) - Celebrities including Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush released a video on Tuesday urging Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to fly to Indonesia to help save two citizens facing execution, forcing the government to defend its tactics.

The Indonesian attorney-general's office on Monday said the executions would take place this week, without confirming a date. But Australian media have published photos of crosses prepared by a mortician that will be used to mark Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan's coffins, inscribed with the date 29.04.2015.

Dozens of celebrities led by Australian acting luminaries Rush, Joel Edgerton, Guy Pearce, Deborah Mailman and Bryan Brown urged Abbott to do more in a video, #SaveOurBoys, uploaded to YouTube.

"I'm an Australian and I stand for mercy," said Oscar winner Rush, a theme repeated by the other prominent actors, musicians and writers.

Others ask: "Where are you Mr Abbott?" and urge him to do more to "bring our boys home".

"Tony, if you had any courage and compassion you'd go to Indonesia and bring these boys home," said actor and writer Brendan Cowell. "Show some balls."

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who has been spearheading the bid to save the men, said expert advice warned against a prime ministerial trip to Indonesia.

"Clearly, if travelling to Indonesia would make a difference, we would have gone there," she said.

"We take the very best advice from our people in Indonesia, who are in Jakarta, who are part of a high-level sustained campaign to seek a stay of execution."

Ms Bishop, who spoke to Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi on Sunday, said she has now received a letter from her offering little hope.

"While they are still alive there is still hope. I will continue to advocate all throughout today," Ms Bishop told reporters on Tuesday.

"I did send another letter to Foreign Minister Marsudi. I received a response from her but it didn't contain any information that may indicate a change of view."

"Bali Nine" drug traffickers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan could face the firing squad within hours, along with others from Brazil, Nigeria, the Philippines and an Indonesian prisoner.

Australia, Indonesia's close neighbour, has mounted a sustained diplomatic campaign to try to stop them being killed, but it appears to be in vain.

Australia argues that the men should not be shot while legal avenues are still open, including a judicial commission investigation into alleged corruption during their trial in 2006 after new claims surfaced in the media.

Mr Abbott is currently travelling back to Australia after attending commemorations marking the centenary of the World War I Gallipoli campaign in Turkey, in which more than 8,000 Australians died.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has taken a hard line against drug offenders and has not been swayed by Australia's pleas for mercy, saying his country was facing an "emergency" due to rising narcotics use.