Victims’ families hurt by lack of ceremony for 20th anniversary

The pressure from the Australian government is timely, with Patek yet to have his parole formally approved.

Patek meanwhile has thanked the Indonesian government for his early reduction. “God willing, hopefully in the near future I can serve the rest of my sentence on parole,” he told Channel Seven.

The Thompson family lays out candles at the sight of the Sari Club in 2012.Credit:Simon Schluter

Less than two months before the 20th anniversary, relatives and friends of those who perished are also unhappy about the Australian government’s plans for observing the solemn occasion in Bali.

In 2012, 10 years after the bombings, then prime minister Julia Gillard and John Howard, who was prime minister when the attack happened, spoke at a ceremony in Bali attended by hundreds of family members of victims and survivors.

A decade on and as another major anniversary looms on October 12, there have been no plans by the Australian government for a similar commemoration.

Instead, the government will mark the anniversary by opening the memorial garden in Bali and placing a remembrance book at the Australian consulate-general in Denpasar, as it has done on the day in recent years.

Sandra Thompson, whose son Clint Thompson died in the Bali bombings. 
Tourists visit the Bali bombing memorial monument on Legian street, Kuta, in 2012.

Sandra Thompson, whose son Clint Thompson died in the Bali bombings.
Tourists visit the Bali bombing memorial monument on Legian street, Kuta, in 2012.
Credit:Kate Geraghty

Sandra Thompson of Leeton, who lost her then 29-year-old son Clint Thompson in the Sari Club bombing, believes not enough is being done on such a major anniversary.

She attended the ceremony 10 years ago and said it was “amazing”. “The way they did it was beautiful … very tasteful,” she said. “We were looked after. This time there’s just nothing.

“Personally, I would have liked people to have freedom of choice to go, to have a nice ceremony if they chose to. They’ve been given no choice. The injured survivors, the family members … 20 years later, there is going to be a lot less than there was before. So it wouldn’t have been expensive.”

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Melbourne man Jan Lacynski, who was in Bali on the night of the attack and lost five friends in the blasts, is making the trip back to the island in October and says there should at least be a small, dignified Australian government ceremony.

“It’s a tough time for a lot of Australians,” he said. “A lot of people are talking about the 20th anniversary. A lot of people have reached out to me to say ‘what is going on?’ and I’m embarrassed to say unfortunately I don’t think there is anything that’s happening.

“I remember when John Howard said quite correctly at the time on the first anniversary that Australia will never forget the 88 Australians that were lost. It seems like they have been forgotten from a formal ceremony point of view.”

A spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the government was considering further options to observe the date in Australia and it was “likely that community groups, including those in Bali and Australia, will also hold their own events”.

“The 12th of October, 2022, will be a difficult day for many Australians and Indonesians, as well as other people from around the world, who were impacted by the senseless act that took place in Bali 20 years ago,” the spokesperson said.

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