The Straits Times
www.straitstimes.com
Published on Oct 12, 2012
 
BALI BOMBINGS: 10 YEARS ON

A decade on, Bali remembers bomb dead

 
 

Jimbaran (Bali): Over 1,000 Indonesians, Australians and others gathered at a simple and solemn ceremony at an open-air plaza here to remember the 202 who lost their lives in the Bali bombings 10 years ago.   

A light drizzle in the morning did not deter survivors who streamed in with scars that never fully healed, and victims' wives and children who carried portraits of loved ones.

But tight security and fears of an attempted attack by terrorists meant more than half the white-draped chairs put out for an expected 2,000 guests were empty.

Speaking at the ceremony, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said it was an occasion to strengthen a collective commitment "to fight extremism and intolerance in all its forms, to see to it that the voice of reason prevails against prejudice, and humanity prevails over hatred."

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that though the attacks inflicted severe pain and grief that will never end, it was clear they had failed. Of the 21 nations whose citizens
died, Australia suffered the greatest loss with 88 people killed.

"Today, we return here in remembrance, but we also gather in quiet defiance," she said.
Hindu, Muslim and Christian religious leaders read blessings, and a list of the names of all who died were also read out.

Ms Gillard, Dr Marty, Indonesian Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi, former Australian prime minister John Howard, and other key guests then laid a floral tribute in a pool as a gamelan orchestra played.

It was followed by a recording of John Lennon's Imagine, and other songs requested by family members of victims.

Survivors and their family members, as well as those of victims, also plan to visit the Bali blast memorial at the scene of the attacks in Kuta this afternoon and evening.

The ceremony, which began at 8.00am, took place under the watchful eyes of 2,000 police and military personnel, including snipers, who were put on Indonesia's top alert earlier in the week after the emergence of "credible information" of a terror threat to the island - which was also hit by deadly bombs in 2005, according to a report by the French news agency, AFP.

Authorities on Thursday moved to ease fears of an attack with Bali's deputy police chief I Ketut Untung Yoga Ana playing down his earlier warning, saying that "so far, what we can say is that (the threat) is not a significant matter".

Mourners, many who had flown in from Australia, gathered Thursday at a memorial to the dead at the island's nightlife strip of Kuta, which is inscribed with the names of the victims, laying flowers and shedding tears for loved ones, AFP said.

As darkness fell on the resort a few dozen lit candles were placed in front of the now derelict plot where one of the targeted venues - the Sari Club - stood, while two Australian flags decorated with thumbnail pictures of the nation's dead were pinned overhead.

Some expressed fears over attending today's ceremony following the terror alert, despite reassurances from security officials.

But others said nothing would deter them from honouring their loved ones.

Carmen Cachia, 72, from Melbourne, who lost her son Anthony in the blasts, joined her husband Charlie in placing a heart-shaped wreath with her son's photo at the memorial, tears streaming down their faces.

"All the memories are coming back. Ten years is a long, long time, but I still can't believe he's gone," she said. "We'll keep coming back every October. This is his place."

The strike against the Sari Club and Paddy's Bar on Kuta on October 12, 2002 by the Al-Qaeda-linked group Jemaah Islamiyah opened an Asian front in the war on terrorism one year after the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

But Indonesia, which has the world's biggest Muslim population, won praise for its response to the bombings, and was also lauded for its actions after the 2005 attacks that saw a suicide blast kill 20 people on the island.

The resort's fortunes bounced back after a massive slump in tourist numbers following the attacks, while all of the leading Bali perpetrators have either been executed, killed by police or jailed.

IN AUSTRALIA

Survivors and relatives of the dead also flocked to emotional Bali ceremonies across Australia on Friday, with Foreign Minister Bob Carr praising the nation's mature response to the atrocity.

Ceremonies were held in Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, the Gold Coast, and the capital Canberra where Governor-General Quentin Bryce said the Australian spirit had proven to be "strong, it is resilient".

"This morning the waft of frangipani and wattle bloom connects our two people and places," said Mr Bryce at Parliament House, which was filled with 350 dignitaries and some 70 family members of those killed in the bombings.

"Today we share the familiar sites and sounds of Bali once more and together we remember. Lest we forget."

Indonesian embassy charge d'affaires Wiwiek Setyawati Firman said all Indonesians felt anger "as to why this happened and why this happened in Bali".

"Ten years on the pain of the loss still remains and we will remember them forever," she said.

"But no single act of terror can weaken our bonds of friendship nor diminish our common resolve to fight terror in all the world," she added.

Six of those killed in Bali were from the Coogee Dolphins rugby league club in Sydney and at a ceremony with an ocean backdrop relatives and friends joined Carr to remember a day that changed their lives.

Mr Carr, who was premier of New South Wales when the attacks occurred, said Australia could be proud of how it responded.

"The response of the Australian people was the response of a mature nation, a nation that knew its past, a nation that knew of its own heroism," he said.

"There was no call for vengeance, there was no extremism, there was no prejudice stalking our land."

SINGAPORE MFA STATEMENT

"Tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of the Bali bomb attack in October 2002.  Singaporeans visiting Bali and other parts of Indonesia should be additionally vigilant during this period, taking all necessary safety precautions. Those who require consular assistance should contact the MFA Duty Office, the Singapore Embassy in Jakarta, or the Consulates in Batam, Medan and Pekanbaru at:

MFA Duty Office
Tel: +65 6379 8800 / 8855
Fax: +65 6476 7302
Email: mfa_duty_officer@mfa.gov.sg

Embassy of the Republic of Singapore in Jakarta
Tel: 62- 21 29950400
Fax: 62- 21 5202320
Duty Officer Tel: 62- 811 863 348

Consulate of the Republic of Singapore in Batam
Tel: 62-778470070
Fax: 62-778470076
Duty Officer Tel: 62-81213247797

Consulate of the Republic of Singapore in Medan
Tel: 62- (61) 455 3537
Fax: 62- (61) 456 8262
Duty Officer Tel: 62 877 907 19480

Consulate of the Republic of Singapore in Pekanbaru
Tel: 62- (761) 41010
Fax: 62- (761) 43555
Duty Officer Tel: 62- (811) 753 7903"