Attendees at the Bali Bombing Memorial event held at Ground Zero Monument in Legian yesterday evening were left triggered and traumatized after footage of the bombing was shown at the event. The graphic imagery included unseen footage of the aftermath of the attacks, a reenactment of the bomber’s movement before the blast, and footage of the attackers on trial.
Several memorial events were held across Bali to mark the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the 12th of October 2002. The events were attended by victims, loved ones who lost family members and friends in the attacks, and government officials.
At the afternoon memorial event held at Ground Zero, a man had to be removed from the group after shouting during prayers and traditional dances. Though the day’s first event was considered a solemn and respectful affair, the vigil held in the evening left attendees reeling.
During the candlelit vigil, a projector played footage of the attacks, accompanied by a loud soundtrack. The sounds from the blasts and screams in the footage were met with screams and cries from the audience, who were surprised and in disbelief at what they were seeing.
For many, the footage was too much to bear, with dozens choosing to leave the vigil as soon as possible. Attendees have spoken to the media about their experience, and the Australian government has condemned the decision to play such traumatizing footage at an event that was supposed to be focused on healing and remembering those affected by the attack.
One of the attendees at the event was a survivor of the Bali Bombings in Peter Hughes. He was left with 50% burns to his body due to the attacks and attended the event in Legian to show his respect to those who lost their lives. He described the ordeal at the memorial as a ‘total disgrace’ and that he saw mourners ‘beside themselves’ at what they had been subjected to.
Hughes told reporters, ‘They just kept showing the bombs going off and people screaming. I thought, ‘what the hell? Are you kidding me? There was some footage I’d never seen’. He described how many of the memorial attended couldn’t hold back their emotions as the footage played out on the big screen.
He said he could hear victims and their loved ones screaming for the footage to stop. ‘I’m not kidding you. It was that graphic, you felt like the bomb had started again. The noise of a bomb… just came through the speakers…To many people, especially the ones who lost their loved ones and never been back … to see that they were just beside themselves’.
Hughes left the event early himself after watching the footage play out for over 20-minutes. He told reporters that the video looked like ‘Indonesian propaganda’. The video later showed footage of convicted terrorist Umar Patek pledging his allegiance to the Indonesian flag. As he approaches his release from prison, Patek is already sitting firmly at the fort of many victims’ minds.
Hughes said, ‘I just said to everyone: let’s go. They’re really showing a lot more than what they should be…The Bali bombers themselves, a depiction of them basically celebrating their death…Then you’ve got Patek, who’s sort of in training mode to get out’.
It is not only Hughes and other attendees who have been shocked by the events at the vigil. Officials in Australia have quickly confirmed that they will lodge their concerns about the decision with the Indonesian movement.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued a statement to say, ‘The Australian Government’s focus on the anniversary was honoring the lives of the victims and the courage and resilience shown by survivors and their families at our daytime services in Bali, in Canberra, and at events across the country…We will be formally registering our concerns with the Indonesian authorities…We understand the distress it has caused and stand ready to offer assistance to any Australians who may need it.
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