Six of the 88 Australians who perished in the Bali bombings were Greek Australian. Ten years later, we remember those who lost their lives
Maria Kotronakis (L) who lost her sister in 2002 Bali bomb attact places flowers during a commemoration ceremony inside the Australian Consulate in Denpasar, Bali. Photo: AAP Image/Made Nagi, EPA Pool.
Sylvia Dalais, Christina Betmilik, David Mavroudis, Luiza Zervos and sisters Dimmy Kotronakis and Elizabeth Kotronakis were the six Greek Australians who lost their lives in Australia’s worst overseas terror attack and were remembered as part of memorials all over the world to mark the ten year anniversary of the Bali bombings.
Friday marked the ten year anniversary of the bombings in Kuta, Bali which killed 202 people – 88 of which were Australian.
The mother of the two Kotronakis sisters and their sister Maria went to Bali to commemorate the deaths of Maria’s twin sister Dimmy, 27, and older sister Elizabeth Kotronakis, 33.
The two girls were in Bali celebrating the wedding of their sister, who was also in Bali with her then husband Kosta Elfes.
The sisters died in the now infamous Sari Club alongside the two Greek Australians Christina Betmalik, 29, of Croydon Park, and Louiza Zervos, 33, of Marrickville, who were bridesmaids at Maria’s wedding.
The group had been out for dinner when Maria and her former husband, then newlyweds, turned in for the night, while the other four women went out to the Sari Club.
After the tragic incident, more than 800 mourners packed into Blacktown’s Hellenic Orthodox Church for the sisters’ funeral weeks after the tragedy.
All over Australia – and all over the world – tributes flew in abundance for the 202 lives that were lost that fateful day.
In Bali, thousands of family members and friends of the deceased, survivors and politicians have flocked to the commemorative monument that lists the name and country of each and every person that lost their life that day.
A service was held Friday in Kuta, Bali to remember the fallen, and was attended by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, former prime minister John Howard, along with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
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Australians speak with AAP at the Bali Bombing Memorial Centre in Kuta, Bali, ten years after the bombings. (AAP/Gianrigo Marletta)
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Bali bombing 10th anniversary ceremony services at Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park where family and friends came to pay their respects. Picture: Brad Fleet News Limited
FAMILIES of those who lost their lives in the Bali bombing have attended an emotional 10th anniversary in Bali.
Ten years on from the horror in Bali, hundreds gathered at a moving service on a hill high above Kuta to honour the memory of the many lives lost in the 2002 bombings.
A separate service was also to be held on Friday night at the memorial in Kuta across the road from where the Sari Club once stood.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard welcomed those attending the Bali service and thanked many of those who were involved in the rescue and recovery process in the aftermath of the bombings.
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Every seat for families at the service had a flower arrangement of wattle and frangipani placed on it – symbols of Australia and Bali. And bags contained tissues.
Photos: Australia remembers Bali victims at memorial services
As Ms Gillard talked about the medical rescue effort that began, she said the attack brought Australia and Indonesia together.
‘It was a time for heroes’ – Read the PM’s speech in full
“A remarkable medical rescue effort swung into place. A thorough policing effort methodically dismantled the terrorist network responsible. And our two countries drew closer than we ever had before,” she said.
As she talked about the pilgrimage Australians have made to Bali for the service, she acknowledged the “inner journey is wrenchingly hard” for everyone who would feel a variety of emotions from anger to unamended loss, to forgiveness among other emotions.
“Nothing can replace the empty seat at your family table, the graduations and christenings you’ll never know,” she said.
“Terrorists have killed and maimed thousands around the world. But they will never sunder or displace a single ideal.
“So today we return here in remembrance, but we also gather in quiet defiance.
“We will never forget all that we lost. We will hold fast to that which remains: to our determination as a free people to explore the world unbowed by fear, to our resolve to defeat terrorism, and to our duty to care for each other.”
The prime minister reflected on the shock of seeing the tragedy of the 2002 Bali bombings unfolding, having only returned to Australia from a holiday on the resort island the day before the blasts.
“We were actually here in the lead-up. We returned to Australia on the Friday and then the events of the weekend unfolded,” said Ms Gillard, who was 41 at the time and had been on holiday in Bali with her sister, nephew and one of his friends.
“So it was very sharp for us because we literally had got back home and you were still dealing with the dirty washing out of the suitcase when the news came through.
“You could just imagine yourself being in that streetscape.”
“You could very much visualise exactly where this had happened and I spent a lot of time ringing my sister and just talking it through as the news just kept coming through because we’d just been here.”
Ms Gillard said former prime minister John Howard “was a steadfast reassuring voice” at the time for all Australians.
She also reflected on former Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri and Indonesian police who worked with Australian police including Commissioner Mick Keelty who “gave us confidence that justice would be done”.
“There are at least some fragments of comfort, there’s peace in this island and millions still come here for the same reasons your loved ones did.”
“They did not undermine Indonesian democracy, though our vigilance is greater we’ve not surrended our freedoms,” she added.
“We prevail because our beliefs endure.”
Mr Gillard also said there is likely to be a memorial for the second wave of terrorist attacks in Bali similar to the service marking the 10th anniversary of the 2002 bombings.
The second bombings, in Jimbaran and Kuta on October 1, 2005, claimed the lives of 20 people and injured more than 100 others.
Four Australians were among the dead.
“I do believe it is important that when we reach the 10 years of the second Bali bombing, that we have those families who lost loved ones and the people who were injured offered a similar opportunity to come and to mark the 10 years,” Ms Gillard said.
“The decisions beyond that depend on discussions with the survivors, discussions with their families.”
Former prime minister John Howard followed Ms Gillard and gave his reflection on the attack.
“That terrible night and the days that followed tested the character of our nation, Australia, and it passed that character test with flying colours.
“We saw in those days, those two great qualities that our nation has – strength but also tenderness, the gentle efficiency of those who medically evacuated in 37 hours 66 badly injured people.
“Those who were responsible for this terrible deed may have hoped a number of things; they may have hoped that they would have driven Indonesia and Australia further apart.
“Instead of that, they brought Indonesia and Australia closer together.”
Mr Howard, speaking afterwards, said a terrorist attack on Australian soil is less likely now in many respects than 10 years ago.
“I don’t think the likelihood of it now is any greater than it was 10 years ago. In some respects it’s less than it was,” he said.
After Mr Howard spoke, Danny Hanley, who lost his two daughters, gave a moving, honest tribute to them.
“I lost my two daughters in the Bali bombing. My eldest daughter Renee was right at the front door of the Sari Club when the blast occurred.
“She was one of the first to lose her life.
“My youngest daughter Simone was already inside the club. She was the last Australian to die after spending 58 days in Perth Hospital’s burns unit.
“When I hear of the 88 Australians that died I always shed a tear because my beautiful daughter Simone was number 88.”
Every name of every victim who died was then read out before a minute’s silence was held. The hymn Amazing Grace was then sung before John Williamson sang Flower on the Water.
Those who lost family and friends were invited to light a candle in the Remembrance Pool from countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, Germany, France, Great Britain, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, The Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan the USA, and all religious faiths.
As the service ended, music was played, which was chosen by the families attending the service.
When the families arrived some of the families walked solemnly by boards of photos containing the faces of their love ones lot on the bombing.
They are the photos which tell the story of lives cut short by terrorism on a holiday island.
An early tropical rain shower subsided and the hot sun began shining over the service as the choir sang and the Indonesian gamelan music played.
Defense chaplain Ian Whitley, who helped the injured in the aftermath of the bombings started the service, which will include Muslim and Hindu prayers as well.
Father Whitley told the audience and families: “We are here today to prove that although we come from different countries and religious groups we are united against terrorism and refuse to be intimidated even when confronted by such great loss.”
“Some of you come bearing an irrevocable grief and loss and this is one of those occasions where it is fitting and appropriate to express those feelings, to cry, and join with others who share a similar loss.”
Before the service, survivor Hanabeth Luke, who will read some of the names of victims, said it was going to be a difficult morning.
She said that this same morning 10 years ago, before Bali had been bombed, had been a beautiful day too.
“That was a perfect morning as well,” she said.
“It is going to be a difficult day. I’m looking forward to jumping in the ocean afterwards.”
She will go for a surf to reflect on the anniversary, she said.
“Our Australian spirit is strong, it is resilient”
Her voice almost breaking with the emotion of remembering the courage of her patients, Dr Fiona Wood paid tribute to the victims of Bali a decade on from the terrorist atrocity at the national service in Canberrra today.
Dr Wood treated victims with burns at Royal Perth Hospital and today recalled at a memorial service in Canberra how their suffering was like the drop of a pebble with the ensuing wave devastating their families.
She recalled the inspirational resilience of her patients and how the pain of saving them had been worth it so they could go on and make the most of life.
“I see within those hearts resilience that is inspirational, love that is selfless and an energy that as we work in our field to make sure the quality of the outcome was worth the pain of survival,” she said.
She added: “We can pass on a history that we are proud of, an Australia that we are proud of born of strength, resilience, love and raw human energy, doing the best we can for each other.”
She also recalled the story of a young triathlete injured in the bombings.
“A young woman whose injuries were beyond comprehension. The first thing she said when she came out of her coma was ‘I’ll never run – will I walk again?’
“I said ‘You will walk, you will run, you will race’
“And in 2008 she beat me in an ironman at Busselton. I only rode the bike and she did the whole thing and her bike time was faster than mine.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in Busselton that day as we all hugged coming over that finish line.”
She ended her tribute with a moving quote from George Bernard Shaw: “Life is no ‘brief candle’ for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
A moving photo tribute was also made to each of the 88 Australians who lost their lives in the bombings in Canberra, against a Balinese musical backdrop of soft chimes and a beating drum.
In solemn procession to the calming, gentle sound of a harp, those at the memorial in the Great Hall at Parliament House have added floral tributes to a wreath to remember the 88 Australians lost in the bombings.
Many held hands or shed a tear.
Governor-General Quentin Bryce was first invited to speak at the service in Canberra, which marked the 10th anniversary of the moment which changed all of our lives.
In her speech, she said loved ones who were lost would never be forgotten.
“Our Australian spirit is strong, it is resilient.”
Frangipani and wattle have been used to symbolise the ties between the two countries.
“This morning the waft of frangipani and wattle bloom connects our two people and places,” Ms Bryce said.
“Today we share the familiar sites and sounds of Bali once more and together we remember. Lest we forget.”
“They are etched in our memories.”
“202 precious lives lost, hundreds injured, all of us left changed forever.”
Representing the Prime Minister, Senator Chris Evans said the memorial service was a time for “all Australians reach out to those in pain”.
“Those who lost loved ones we remember,” he added.
In her speech, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Julie Bishop said that while we grieve, we also give thanks to the 88 loved ones we lost on the bombings.
“Joy and woe are inseparable emotions, while we feel grief and sadness, we give thanks for their lives and the love we share,” she said.
Thousands gather at memorial services to remember loved ones
The clouds parted at Sydney’s Dolphin Point where Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Premier Barry O’Farrell joined hundreds of people at the Bali memorial in Coogee, holding flowers handed to them as they walked up the hill to Dolphin Point.
‘Tom is with me on every wave’
Mates remember those lost in Bali at Coogee
Three waratah flowers, the emblem of NSW, have been placed at the base of the Bali memorial sculpture, as well as boxes of white doves ready to be released.
Amongst the crowd are victims’ families and friends, and survivors.
Tia Byron, who lost her 15-year-old daughter Chloe, said she came to the service every year.
“It’s lovely, I like coming here, they are always very sensitive,” she said.
“I would rather come here than go to Bali.”
Ms Byron said the service was an opportunity to catch up with other families and see how they were going as the years passed.
Jessica Symes was at the service to remember her friend Debbie Borgia and Ms Borgia’s daughter Abbey who were killed in the bombings.
She said she always found the service overwhelming.
“I’m here to support my friend and to remember,” she said.
The ceremony opened with a guitarist singing John Lennon’s Imagine.
Victoria remembers: “This event rocked our nation”
In Melbourne, people gathered families and friends of those who lost their lives joined politicians and religious leaders at a multi-faith service at Victoria’s Parliament House.
Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu, Opposition leader Daniel Andrews, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Ken Smith and President of the Legislative Council Bruce Atkinson helped mark the occasion.
A single wreath adorned the front of parliament’s Queen’s Hall as the solemn tunes of the Salvation Army’s brass band greeted mourners filtering into the dimly lit hall.
Karyn Rigley of the Salvation Army offered a opening prayer at the service.
“We are extremely sad at what today represents for so many,” Major Rigley told the service.
“We think of those who have lost loved ones … and those who support loved ones.”
MC Ian Henderson said many of those killed were local people and holidaymakers drawn to the beauty of Bali and its friendly people.
“Today we remember all of those who were injured and all for whom 2002 remains a time of hurt and loss,” he said.
“In particular we’d like to remember the 22 Victorians who never came home.”
Each victim had a story and a family, Mr Henderson, before reading out the names of the Victorians who died.
Two high school bellringers, Rose Muller and Viet-Nham Bui, tolled a bell in honour of each victim before singer Bridget Davies, clad in black, performed a haunting rendition of Amazing Grace.
Premier Ted Baillieu recalled how Victorians inundated the front of Parliament House with flowers after the bombings occurred.
“The gentle gesture from a Victorian Melbourne radio station led to thousands and thousands of others bringing flowers,” he said.
“It was a flower bed of love.”
Mr Baillieu said the tragedy brought Australians together.
“We must never forget what was meant to shatter us strengthened us,” he said.
“What was meant to divide us brought us together.”
In Perth , a dawn service has been underway where Premier Colin Barnett and Opposition Leader Mark McGowan gathered with hundreds of others in Kings Park.
Many laid flowers at the memorial and grieved together.
The names of 16 West Australians, who were among the 88 Australians killed, were read out to the gathering.
Candles were been lit and as dawn broke, a lone bagpipe player marched down Fraser Avenue towards the city’s memorial to the 202 victims of the terrorist attack, killed in two bombings at the Bali nightclubs, Paddy’s Bar and the Sari Club, this time 10 years ago.
“It was a senseless and brutal act,” West Australian Premier Colin Barnett said.
Mr Barnett said he hoped the 10th anniversary would bring closure to the families who lost loved ones in the bombings.
“They would want you to live their life to the full in their memory.”
Floral tributes were laid at the memorial by Mr Barnett and Mr McGowan to the strains of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here.
Families of the fallen then followed, touching the names of their loved ones engraved on the stone wall of remembrance, this time accompanied by John Lennon’s Imagine.
Celebrant Kevin Clune ended the ceremony by inviting those grieving to leave the darkness behind and find the time to heal.
“Let us use this new dawn to remind us of what we have … cherished memories that are ours to keep,” Mr Clune said.
“Love and wonderful memories outlast the pain of grief.”
In Adelaide, the local memorial service remembered those who died including three South Australians were among the 202 killed – Angela Golotta, 19, Joshua Deegan, 22, Bob Marshall, 68. Deegan and Marshall were on an after-season trip with the Sturt Football Club.
The brother of Bali bombing victim Josh Deegan says his family’s loss still feels raw 10 years after the tragedy.
Nick Deegan says it doesn’t feel like a decade has passed since the bombing.
“It feels like it was only yesterday,” he told reporters in Adelaide.
“You learn to live with what’s happened, you acclimatise and adjust.
“But I guess on a day like today it’s still a little bit raw.”
Federal government minister Kate Ellis, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond are among those attending the service at St Augustine’s Anglican Church in suburban Unley.
St Augustine’s Reverend Brenton Daulby has told the service those who died were taken while doing a very Australian thing – “having a good time”.
Mr Daulby said after the bombing Australia came together as a nation and “our character was not found wanting”.
In Queensland, the day will be marked with a peaceful sunset ceremony on the Gold Coast from 5pm.
VICTIMS OF TERROR
Deborah Lea (Debbie) Snodgras