Bali bombing victims remembered on tenth anniversary

 

The Bali bombings left an “indelible mark” on Britain's national memory, Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire said today.

Mr Swire joined relatives and friends of the 28 Britons who lost their lives on October 12 2002 to mark the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks.

A total of 202 people, including 28 Britons, were killed on October 12 2002 and more than 204 injured when the al Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah group detonated bombs at two packed Balinightspots.

Hundreds of people, including Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, as well as Britain's ambassador to Indonesia, gathered today for a ceremony on the island, where more than 2,000 police and military, including snipers, guarded the service amid security concerns.

And in London, families and friends of the British victims attended a closed ceremony at the memorial to the victims of the bombings, at St James's Park.

They were joined by Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire, who made a brief speech before laying a wreath.

He told the gathering: "The cold, calculated and cruel nature of the attack, targeting primarily young innocent travellers, has left an indelible mark on our national memory.

"I am reminded of it as I pass this memorial each morning on my way into the office. The 202 names inscribed here include also the Indonesian bystanders - those who were not targeted, but killed nevertheless. The names include people of 23 different nationalities and from all six continents.

"They do not include the names of those who remained unidentified. But our thoughts go out to those from whom they were so suddenly taken.

"The bombers hoped to spread terror - and indeed they did. But the legacy of those crimes is not terror. The legacy is the stories of bravery about those who compromised their own safety to help rescue the injured.

"It is the solidarity of people and governments all around the world - of different races, religions and political beliefs - who deplored the attacks and all they stood for, and who mark this sombre anniversary today.

"The legacy is the bereavement left behind by the 202 men and women whose lives were cut tragically short and the relentless work done by their loved ones to commemorate them.

"We remember the dead here in London alongside many of the victims' family members and friends present, and with representatives of many of the 22 other countries in mourning."

Diplomats from other nations that lost people, as well as relatives, also laid wreaths, before attending a brief reception at the Foreign Office.

Maggie Stephens' son, Neil Bowler, 27, was on a rugby tour when he died in the bombings.

Speaking after the ceremony, Mrs Stephens, 61, from Worcester, said: "Neil was working for the Economist, he was living in Singapore and he played recreational rugby for the Singapore Cricket Club. They took a team of 15 to the annual Bali Tens rugby tournament.

"They took 15 and eight of them were killed, all young men."

Of the 10th anniversary, she said: "The families worked very hard to get this memorial put up which I think is a good way to remember our loved ones.

"We often come to London and we often come to the memorial. It's very special for the families to come together because nobody else, unless you've experienced something like this, nobody knows how you feel.

"There is a sense of camaraderie from being with people who are in exactly the same boat as you are."

Relatives of the 28 British victims also organised a service at St Paul's Church in Covent Garden today, which Mrs Stephens will attend.

"We'll all be together then, and then we, as a family, are going to meet up with quite a few of Neil's friends who are now back in the UK to have a rum and coke in his name, or two."

Some relatives of victims are calling for the final suspect linked to the attacks - Riduan Isamuddin, known as Hambali, who is being held in Guantanamo Bay - to stand trial.

Susanna Miller, whose brother Dan, 31, died in the attacks, while his wife Polly was badly burned, called for open justice for Hambali, claiming his nine-year detention without charge by the US is an "open travesty of human rights".

"We find ourselves in this slightly curious position of fighting for the rights of one of the people responsible for the deaths of our relatives," said Ms Miller.

The 45-year-old, who lives in north London, visited the Foreign Office last week to discuss the issue and a spokesman confirmed it is being looked into.

She said many relatives had not travelled to Bali for the anniversary because of security concerns.

PA

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