By Lea von Martius
The terrible images of the October 12th, 2002 Bali bombings are imprinted on the collective memory of the world: burnt-out buildings, dead bodies piling up on the streets, and the wan face of Umar Patek. Not only do they bear witness to one of the most devastating terrorist attacks in recent history, which took place just one year after 9/11, but represent the rapid expansion of global terrorism. 202 people from 23 different countries lost their lives in the attacks, including Indonesian, Australian, and British nationals. This morning, on the 10th anniversary of the Bali bombings, a commemoration ceremony was held in Kuta, the southern Balinese town where the attacks happened. Both family members of victims and survivors who barely escaped the horrors themselves attended the event. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, whose country mourned the most deaths after the attacks, was also present to show her support for the ones left behind. Anggie Dewirini, the SAVE Indonesia representative, attended the ceremony this morning:
“This morning, on my way to the
event, there were police everywhere. When I arrived, I was amazed at how many
people were there—family members of victims, survivors, NGO representatives,
journalists, security guards, and politicians. The choir that sang touched the
hearts of everyone there—I felt like they were singing to each one of us
individually. I felt so much empathy with the family members of the victims
there that I am among them now. It was as if I too had lost a loved one. I found
myself crying as I put flowers in the small reflection pool. I held one of the
victims, and my heart went out to her. I can’t even describe how it felt to see
all the faces and photographs of the victims on the memorial wall.” Her words
reflect the devastation that still holds family members firmly in its grasp
even ten years later.
It is easy to forget that that Bali, an extremely popular tourist destination, belongs to Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic nation. Although the island is geographically far removed from the Middle East, Al Qaida and a number of jihadist splinter groups who have strongholds there have recently begun exerting influence in Indonesia, which has traditionally been recognized as a very moderate Muslim country. The end of the Suharto autocracy has created a political vacuum which extremist groups are strategically filling with their ideologies of hate and vengeance.
|Placing flowers in a reflecting pool at the ceremony commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Kuta bombings|
|Family members of victims walk past the boards with photos of all the victims|
The commemoration ceremony’s messages of peace and progress come in the wake of terrifying news from Pakistan—the attack on Malala Yousafzai last Tuesday. The 14 year old girl, known internationally as an advocate for the rights of children and women in her country and who, at the age of eleven, was awarded the national Peace Prize by the Pakistani government, was shot by Pakistani Taliban. While she is struggling for her life in the hospital, her courage and commitment set an example for individuals around the world to challenge extremist rhetoric and stand up for their rights. Malala, a young girl, almost a child, managed to unsettle the powerful Taliban and draw the attention of the global media to their tactics. Even more importantly, the attack has led to dissension within the ranks of the Taliban: terrorist leaders worldwide have condemned the attack as "barbaric" (source: www.spiegel.de).
Anggie Dewirini adds: “I hope that the terrorists and extremists can see that all humans around the world have the same rights, especially the right to live our lives in peace. Let us see that we are one family—we don’t want to hate each other, we want to be at peace. Let us hold hands, and not see differences as a barrier to peace.”