Mourners Mark 20th Anniversary of Bali Bombings

Photo: AFP [via Al Jazeera]

The Facts

  • On Wednesday, survivors and grieving families marked the 20th anniversary of the 2002 Bali, Indonesia, bombing by an Al-Qaeda-linked group that claimed 202 lives. Convicted bombmaker Umar Patek is being considered for early release, though authorities have held off freeing him before the memorial.

  • On Oct. 12, 2002, a car bomb exploded outside the Sari Club in the Kuta Beach area of the resort island. Another bomb simultaneously exploded across the street at Paddy's Bar.

The Spin

Pro-establishment narrative

The Indonesian government launched an extensive effort to combat terrorism following the 2002 bombing. Since that time, it has continuously expanded and improved upon its counter-terrorism initiatives. The national police have successfully taken down several terrorist networks within the country and will continue to do so through its strengthened counter-terror unit. Indonesia has also made significant progress in ending separatist conflicts in Aceh and Papua.

Establishment-critical narrative

While nothing excuses the tragic 2002 bombing, ironically, Indonesia’s military and other security forces were responsible for horrific levels of violence, including the torture and murder of hundreds of thousands of leftists, with training and support provided by the US, UK, and Australia in the 1960s. Terrorism committed by non-state actors must be seen in the wider context of state terror, which is responsible for the death of far more people.

Narrative C

Indonesia's consideration to release Umar Patek after only 10 years is outrageous. This would cause further distress for the survivors and victims’ families and doesn’t reflect the gravity of his crimes. Australia has provided substantial aid and support to Indonesia over the years - the Indonesian government should consider this when making judicial decisions that impact Australian citizens.

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