Denpasar. Wayan Leniasih lived with her husband until he was killed in the 2002 Bali bombings that left 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, dead.
At the Ground Zero monument in Kuta she called on those gathered to remember what happened on Oct. 12, 2002, to put the bombing behind them lest it “continue to haunt us forever.”
But this statement of defiance could not hide the deep loss that losing her husband, Kadek Sukanaya, who worked as a bartender at the Sari Club where a bomb exploded, must have caused.
Like many of the survivors of those who were killed, Wayan’s life has become more difficult in practical ways, as well as from coping with the grief that haunted her for years.
“My teacher’s salary is not enough, so I have to take up more jobs on the side,” she said. “The good thing is our children’s education has not been effected because they are now paid for by a foundation.”
Thiolina F. Marpaung, who suffers from eye problems because of shrapnel from the bombs, said that she continued to feel a deep sadness every time she thought of the incident.
Like many of the survivors, Thiolina struggles to pay for medical bills. She said that she continued to undergo monthly medical checks at her own expense.
But as well as sharing stories of sorrow, some in attendance said they were glad to have the support of other survivors.
“By meeting the other victims, we feel that we share the same fate and can share stories and help each other,” said Bambang, a victim of the 2003 JW Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta, who attended the ceremony.
Following speeches from some of the victims and their families, a 150-meter piece of cloth was unfurled at Kuta Beach, which people signed to support calls for non-violence and conflict resolution.
In Jakarta, a similar event took place, where a 1.4 kilometer shroud was unfurled from the Hotel Indonesia roundabout for people to sign.
“Taking the shroud of cloth as a symbol, we want to send a message that violence has already caused enough deaths,” said Damien Demantra, who headed the organizing committee for the event.
He said that the organizers hoped that thousands of people would put their signature on the cloth.
The anniversary was also marked with a solemn gathering at the Australian consulate in Denpasar.
“We are standing here to remember the victims of the bombings nine years ago. We are also remembering the people whose lives have been changed by this event,” Australian Ambassador Greg Moriarty said in his speech.
Wendy Grezl, the mother-in-law of John Juniardi, who was killed in the blast at Sari Club, said that “this bad memory would continue to haunt us forever.”
The Association of Bomb Victims in Indonesia (Askobi) also marked the day by conducting a campaign against violence directed at the country’s youth.
Askobi member Tony Soemarno, 57, said that the campaign intended to show the youth that violence was not the answer.
“Violence is not part of the life of the people of Indonesia. We are a community that is against violence,” said Tony, who was also one of the survivors of the 2003 JW Marriott bombing.
He added that there needed to be efforts to deal with the root causes of terrorism.
“I once met with terrorists. I said that they must prevent attacks from happening again. They said they can’t do it by themselves, because there are many more ready to act,” he said.
Nasir Abbas, a former member of the Jemaah Islamiyah regional terror network who has since left the radical group, said that efforts to fight terrorism should never stop because “terrorists continue to spread their teachings to the people.”