| Jennifer Ridgeway and Blair Cearns from Brisbane, who lost their sister Jodie Cearns aged 35, at the commemoration ceremony in Bali on Sunday. (AP)
Bali, Oct. 12 (Reuters): Heads bowed and weeping, Australian and other survivors of last year’s bomb attacks on Indonesia’s Bali island and hundreds of grieving relatives paid tribute today to the 202 people killed.
Voices from a choir of Australian and Indonesian school children drifted over the families at a Christian service on a limestone escarpment overlooking Kuta beach, where militants blew up two nightclubs on this day a year ago.
Of 2,000 mourners at the service, about 800 were survivors and relatives, the majority from Australia, which lost 88 citizens in the worst act of terror since the September 11, 2001, strikes on the US. In all, 22 countries lost people.
For many, the emotion of returning to this fabled isle has been raw. But there has also been defiance.
“If we didn’t come back they would have won. It goes to show they can’t beat the Australian spirit. We’ll keep on coming and sticking it up their face,” said Jason Madden, 31, who lost seven friends from Perth’s Kingsley Cats football team.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard and leaders from Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, were among those at the service, which was open to the public and attracted many who took part in rescue efforts last year.
Chief security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono vowed to fight terrorism and said Indonesia would never rest until it had caught all those behind the blasts. About 40 people have been captured and 20 sentenced, including three given the death sentence.
One of those on death row, Imam Samudra, said in an interview published today that he had no regrets and was ready to die.
Indonesia has warned that militants were planning more attacks and had built two bombs but insisted the mainly Hindu enclave of Bali was safe for the mourners.
Heavily armed police and sniffer dogs were on patrol.
“These diabolical men and their brand of evil simply has no place in our society. They belong in our darkest dungeons, locked away deep beneath our children’s playgrounds. History will condemn them forever,” said Yudhoyono.
Across Australia, flags flew at half-mast as the country stopped to mark the anniversary.
On a windy cliff top overlooking Coogee beach in Sydney, 1,000 people gathered for the dedication of a memorial at the site renamed Dolphins Point after the Coogee Dolphins rugby league team, which lost six players.