Bali memorial marred by threats

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Survivors and relatives of those who lost their lives in the 2002 Bali bombings gathered on the island to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on Indonesian soil yesterday.

A total of 202 people from 21 nations, including 28 Britons, were killed on 12 October, 2002 when the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah group attacked two Bali nightclubs packed with tourists.

People gather around lit-up candles at Kuta Beach. Picture: Reuters

People gather around lit-up candles at Kuta Beach. Picture: Reuters

Threats of a repeat attack on the tenth anniversary prompted a high security presence at yesterday’s ceremony, which was attended by Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa, as well as Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, and John Howard, that country’s leader at the time of the attacks. Among the dead were 88 Australians; about 1,000 Australians travelled to Bali for the service.

More than 2,000 police and military, including snipers, guarded the service after authorities raised security alerts to their highest level after receiving intelligence suggesting a threat to the ceremony.

During the service, a row of photographs of the victims was displayed and each person’s name was read out, while candles were lit to represent each of the nations that lost people.

Ms Gillard spoke of the “searing pain and grief” caused by the attacks.

Surgeon Fiona Wood, who led a team of Australian doctors who treated victims injured in the attack, spoke of the survivors’ bravery.

She said: “A young woman whose injuries were beyond comprehension – the first thing she said when she came out of her coma was, ‘I’ll never run; will I walk again?’ I said, ‘You will walk, you will run.’ And in 2008, she beat me in an Ironman [long-distance triathlon].”

Memorial services were also held across Australia, and a closed ceremony was held in London, where more than 100 relatives and friends of British victims gathered.

At the UK ceremony, at the Bali bombings memorial behind the Foreign Office near St James’s Park, family members and friends were joined by diplomats from other countries that lost people in the bombings. Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire also attended.

The Bali bombings left an “indelible mark” on Britain, Mr Swire said.

He told the gathering: “The cold, calculated and cruel nature of the attack, targeting primarily young, innocent travellers, has left an indelible mark on our national memory.

“I am reminded of it as I pass this memorial each morning on my way into the office. The 202 names inscribed here include also the Indonesian bystanders – those who were not targeted, but killed nevertheless. The names include people of 23 different nationalities from six continents.

“They do not include the names of those who remained unidentified. But our thoughts go out to those from whom they were so suddenly taken.

“The bombers hoped to spread terror – and indeed they did. But the legacy of those crimes is not terror. The legacy is the stories of bravery about those who compromised their own safety to help rescue the injured.”

Relatives of the victims have said they want to see a final push to make sure those responsible are held to account.

Susanna Miller – whose brother Dan, 31, died in the attacks, and whose wife, Polly, was badly burned – called for open justice for Hambali, claiming his nine-year detention without charge by the US is an “open travesty of human rights”.