Bali remembers bombing victims on 20th anniversary

Hundreds of Australians and Indonesians have packed the foreground of Kuta’s ground zero monument for a peace and harmony ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the Bali bombings.

People gather in front of the 2002 Bali Bombing Memorial monument during a commemoration ceremony of the 20th anniversary of the attack in Kuta.  Photo: EPA/Made Nagi

People gather in front of the 2002 Bali Bombing Memorial monument during a commemoration ceremony of the 20th anniversary of the attack in Kuta. Photo: EPA/Made Nagi

Supported by the Isana Dewata Foundation for Indonesian victims and survivors, it hosted a display of Balinese dancers espousing peace and harmony in Bali and elsewhere.

Dignitaries from both nations on Wednesday afternoon paid tribute to victims with a laying of flowers and candles, and a plea to embrace people of all faiths.

But to some directly affected by the bombs, a graphic film screened beside the monument, depicting the catastrophic explosions that tore through the nightclubs and their gruesome aftermath, may have caused distress.

The bombings carried out by Islamic terrorists – the worst in Indonesian history – tore through the Sari Club and Paddy’s Bar, killing 202 people including 88 Australians on October 12, 2002.

Among survivors at the ceremony were Balinese burns victims Yayuk and Cusnol, each of whom had spent months in emergency care in Perth attended by respected plastic surgeon Fiona Wood.

Both women had suffered burns to about 70 per cent of their bodies.

It was the later ceremony timed to coincide with the time of the deadly 2002 explosions just after 11pm that provoked most interest and drew a bevy of high-profile Australian and Indonesian politicians, diplomats, other officials and police to hammer home the fight against terrorism.

In a high-powered security operation, a swarm of elite Brimob, or Mobile Brigade Corps, police and military forces lined the area and shut off streets leading to the ground zero monument.

High-ranking officials including the Indonesian Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian – previously the chief of Indonesian National Police, and a leading figure in the battle against terrorism, and the chief of the National Counter-Terrorism Agency attended along with Australian Federal Police officers.

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Militant-turned-police informant and de-radicalisation proponent Nasir Abbas, who trained the Bali bombers in explosives-making, mingled in the crowd.

Video announcements from John Howard, who was Australian prime minister at the time of the bombings carried out by the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah group, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo reiterated the strong relationship between the two countries.

“I know that those who organised and those who carried out those attacks wanted to drive a wedge between Indonesia and Australia. You can take comfort from the fact that they failed utterly to do that, because the way in which the two police forces came together … has won the admiration of the officials of these two countries,” Mr Howard said.

“Australia and Indonesia remain close.”


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