Bali bounces back after bombings

Tourists are flocking back for fun in the sun five years on.


Five years after the bombings, Indonesia‘s resort island of Bali is booming again.


Almost as many holiday makers come here now as before the deadly attacks to enjoy the beaches and the bars.


But it has been a long road to recovery.


On October 12, 2002, a van packed with explosives blew up right in front of the popular Sari club. Another explosion occurred in a nearby bar.


Relatives of the convicted bombers see their act
as merely killing the sinful

The lives of 202 people, mostly foreigners, abruptly ended. Some were dancing, others were just passing by. More than 200 were left wounded.


Three main suspects from the island of Java – Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra – were sentenced to death for their role in the attacks.


The men are awaiting execution.


While their relatives pray for that day to never come, families of the victims say it is long overdue.


Amrozi and Mukhlas are brothers who were brought up at the Islamic school in East Java. Most of their relatives support them.


Ja’afar Shodiq, their older brother, said the government has no right to execute them.


“Careful you unjust people because God will make sure disaster will happen to you. The prayer of people who are repressed will never be rejected by God,” he said, reciting a verse from the Quran.


‘Nothing wrong’


Relatives of the three on death row continue
to pray for their return

Their mother, Tarijem, 75, also claims her sons did nothing wrong.


“They are not guilty, they have killed men and women who were sinful, who were engaging in free sex,” she said.


“So there is nothing wrong with their struggle. They killed unbelievers, that’s what I heard.”


Tarijem prays that her sons will soon return home, saying she can’t bear to think they will be executed.


Not far away, on the island of Bali itself, Endang Isnanik is also praying.


She hopes the men who killed her husband, a taxi driver who was waiting for customers that fateful night, will soon be put to death.


Innocent victims


Balinese widows now eke a living through tailoring

Endang Isnanik, who now tries to make a living as a tailor together with other widows, said her husband’s death was like losing the backbone of her family.


“Now I have to raise my children without their father because of what they did to us. My children are forced to miss the love of their father,” she said.


“So all this gives me the conviction that executing them is the best solution.”


Calls from human rights groups such as Amnesty International against the executions are dismissed by most residents of Bali.


Police chief Paulus Purwoko said: “The Balinese will be happy if the execution will take place soon. But it’s up to the president to decide.”


Silver lining


Since the tragedy, a monument erected on the site of the blasts has become a symbol of harmony, because religious groups have become more united.


Indonesia fetes convicts

Australian PM John Howard plans to lodge a formal protest with Indonesia for hosting a party for convicted extremists last month


Howard said he was “disgusted” that Indonesia‘s counterterrorism chief would host two Bali bombers


Brigadier General Surya Dharma said the dinner was a strategy to co-opt extremists and defuse country’s terrorist threat

Five years ago, Haji Bambang, a prominent Muslim among Bali’s predominantly Hindu population, rushed to the scene of the explosions to save as many lives as he could.


It is a tragedy he still remembers every single day.


But Haji Bambang also believes that all the suffering had brought something good to Bali.


“I have seen a big change here. There is more tolerance now, the different religious groups are closer, they feel like they are brothers now, having experienced the same tragedy,” he said.


The workshop of the Balinese widows is one example, where Muslim and Hindu women have found each other in their suffering.


Five years on, the wounds are still fresh. But at least the tourists are coming back. The island is finding new life out of the tragedy.

Source: Al Jazeera


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