Anthony Albanese will mark the 20th anniversary of the Bali bombings by denouncing the terrorists for “an act of malice and calculated depravity” while vowing never to let the memories of the victims fade.
In a speech on Wednesday, the Australian prime minister was expected to reflect on the passage of 20 years since 202 people, including 88 Australians, were killed in Bali, Indonesia. He was to say that “so many hearts are still tethered to that cruel night, every beat tempered by an abiding sorrow”.
Two bombs tore through the popular nightspots of the Sari Club and Paddy’s Pub, shortly after 11pm local time. The victims were from more than 20 countries, including Indonesia, Britain, the US, Brazil, Germany and New Zealand. But Australia suffered the highest death toll, and it was the largest number of Australians killed in a terrorist attack.
Across the country on Wednesday, Australians were expected to remember those who died and the trauma that remains for those who survived.
The Australian government was due to host a memorial service at Parliament House and a commemorative ceremony was to be held at the Australian consulate general in Bali, Indonesia.
Of the Australians killed, six were members of the Coogee Dolphins rugby league club.
At the Bali memorial on Dolphins Point, at the northern end of Coogee beach, a commemorative service will be held at 10am for all of the victims of the terror attack.
Albanese planned to tell the Coogee memorial that the terrorists “robbed the world of 202 lives” and in the process had stolen “so many futures”.
He was to say that the attackers “struck at the joy of a free people” and “sought to create terror”.
“But people ran towards the terror, to do what they could do for friend and stranger alike,” say the prime minister’s speech notes, distributed to media in advance.
“What the architects of this slaughter achieved was to make us reflect on what we most truly value – and to hold on to it more tightly than ever before.
“No terrorist can take this from us, but they did take life.”
Albanese was to say the survivors were left to rebuild themselves, physically and mentally, while families and friends were struggling with loss.
“Many currents were stopped in the great river of life that night and some are still stranded on the bank, unable to walk away,” Albanese’s notes say.
He was expected to say that grief “is its own creature” and may soften with time but does not fade.
“We hold on to their names and faces – and we will never let them fade.”
Eighty-eight white doves will be released at the annual remembrance.
The mayor of Randwick, Dylan Parker, said the beachside community “has come together every year to remember those lost and support families and friends left behind. This year marks the 20th anniversary and we will do so again.”
“We also pay tribute to those who survived, went searching and helped to rescue others,” Parker said.
“The victims of the Bali bombings must never be forgotten.”
Many of the Australians who survived the blast, but with critical injuries, were treated at Royal Perth hospital, given its relative proximity to Bali. The director of the hospital’s burns unit, Dr Fiona Wood, was named Australian of the Year for her work treating the bombing victims.
In Perth, the Bali Memorial Association planned to host a public service at the Bali memorial at Kings park, at 5.30am Wednesday.
After the service, the Western Australian government was to host a private breakfast event for those affected by the tragedy – survivors, as well as family and friends of victims.
On the same day, a photographic exhibition, Remembering the Bali Bombings: 20 Years On, was due to open at the WA museum Boola Bardip.
The WA premier, Mark McGowan, said the anniversary was an important moment for reflection.
“It provides an opportunity to pay tribute to the extraordinary efforts of hospital staff that treated survivors, and the outpouring of community support in such a difficult time for so many Western Australians,” he said.
One bombmaker behind the Bali explosives, Umar Patek, is being considered for parole, after serving 11 years of his 20-year sentence.
Another bomber, Encep Nurjaman – known as Hambali – has been held at Guantanamo Bay for 16 years, and is about to begin pretrial hearings before a military commission.