TEARS flowed freely from the victims of the Bali bombings, their families and supporters during a moving and prayerful anniversary service on the holiday island yesterday.
The ceremony at the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park in Bali, may be the last for the October 2002 tragedy in which 202 people died, including 88 Australians.
But in the midst of speeches from leaders past and present, Australian and Indonesian, it was the piping voice of a 12-year-old Balinese boy, reading a poem he had written to his dead father, that provided the most moving moment. “I only have one hope, that daddy will come home with a good toy for me,” said Made Bagus Arya Dana in Indonesian, his mother by his side translating into English.
“I stare at the picture of your face. I listen to mum's stories about you . . . how daddy really loved me. How I miss your hugs.”
Made was 18 months old when his father, Gede Badrawan, the head waiter at the Sari Club, died in the bomb blasts.
“I am almost 12 years old now, I have started to understand what happened. I can feel mum's sadness. I realise daddy will never be home,” Made said.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard, former prime minister John Howard and Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa all emphasised how the terrorist atrocity had failed to achieve any of its objectives. It had not divided Australia from Indonesia, nor religions from one another, nor undermined Indonesian democracy, then only four years old. Each had only grown stronger, they said.
“Our two countries drew closer than they had ever been before,” Ms Gillard said.
The Australian government had arranged and paid for about 600 survivors and family members to come to the commemoration, and Ms Gillard praised their courage for facing, once again, their demons.
“This is a day of contesting emotions . . . but nothing can replace the empty seat at your family table, the graduations and the christenings you will never know, and the fault line that will always divide into two halves, before Bali and after Bali.”
Ms Gillard said after the service that she had been in Bali until the day before the bombing and was still unpacking at home when news of the tragedy came through. In her speech, she said that, like Gallipoli and London, Bali was a place “where something of the Australian spirit dwells upon another shore”. She also praised Mr Howard, for his “steadfast, reassuring voice for Australians in those dramatic days”.
Mr Howard said the bombing, had tested Australia, but it had passed “with flying colours” showing its “two great qualities – strength and tenderness”.
He, too, addressed the families saying that, 10 years on: “You are not forgotten, your loss is not forgotten, and the great memorial for those who lost is to be found in the determination of young Australia to keep coming to Bali.”
The Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, did not attend, but was represented by foreign minister Marty Natalegawa. He said the plotters from terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah had “utterly failed” in their objectives and that Indonesian democracy had “emerged stronger than ever before”.
Dan Hanley lost two daughters, Renee and Simone, who died in the Sari Club. The younger, Simone, was the last of the Australians to die, after 58 days in hospital in Perth.
“When I hear of the 88 Australians who died, I always shed a tear, because my beautiful daughter Simone was number 88,” Mr Hanley said.
The ceremony was attended by about 1000 instead of the expected 4000. Ms Gillard said later that the victims of the second Bali bombing in 2005 would be afforded the same help to come to a commemoration on their 10th anniversary but that future events would depend on “discussions with the survivors”.
On the way into the service, Adrian Morton of the Coogee Dolphins Rugby League Club said he was here to pay tribute to the six men from the club who died. “I lost two of my best mates” said Mr Morton, who was wearing a Coogee Dolphins club shirt.
His close friends, Clint Thompson and Josh Iliffe, died in the blast. About a dozen members of the Dolphins are in Bali for the ceremony.
“It brings back a lot of emotions and memories, it means a lot to remember the good times,” Mr Morton said.
Indonesian burn victim Chusnul Chotimah was buying rice when the bomb exploded, badly burning her face and much of her body. She was carried out of the wreckage by an unknown tourist and, ultimately ended up in Royal Perth Hospital for three months. She said she was happy to “be here, despite the violence, to tell my story”.
After the ceremony, as music chosen by the families played across the park, families streamed out, some weeping loudly and in need of physical support, while others cried and embraced one another.