Revenge: A Terrorism Victim Stops the Cycle of Violence
The Bali bombing in October 2002
took the lives of 202 people
from 22 countries, including the husband of Hayati Eka Laksmi.
(Photo by www.historycommons.org)
On the day of the Bali bombing in 2002, Hayati Eka Laksmi received a
call from a representative of a car rental firm. The car her husband
rented with some friends had been caught in traffic in the nearby
tourist district of Kuta, and a bomb had exploded just three vehicles
Eka had already heard about the bombing, but it never crossed her mind
that her husband could have been affected. Her initial horror that a
group could perpetrate such an attack in the name of Islam gave way to
personal grief. She began a frantic search for information, trying to
find out if her husband was still alive.
It took seven days before Eka found her husband’s body lying in a
“I had to identify his body based on marks pointed out by the forensic
team and through DNA testing,” said Eka. “I was deeply shocked when it
was confirmed that ‘Mr. X’ in Bag No. 145 was the body of my husband.”
The loss of her husband left Eka to bring up her two young sons on her
“I relied on my husband’s income. My two boys were very young at the
time—2 and 3 years old. We were all deeply affected. I became
traumatized and depressed.”
Eka noticed that her children were also becoming angry, sad and
sometimes aggressive. On the first anniversary of the bombing, she felt
that she must do something to move her family out of the grief into
which they had sunk.
For six months, Eka received counseling from a non-governmental
organization (NGO) that actively helps survivors and victims’ families.
Once she completed therapy, the organization asked her to start working
for them, which allowed her to earn some money. Like many women affected
by terrorism, she had lost the household’s main breadwinner and
struggled to keep the family going economically. With the help of her
mother, she opened a small shop selling domestic goods, like sugar,
coffee and gas.
Once she had resolved the most pressing needs of everyday life, Eka
turned to the emotional needs of her children, taking them to
counseling. She recognized that many families were going through the
same trauma and decided to bring friends who had also lost relatives in
the bombings to counseling as well.
Gradually, Eka helped create a network of victims called Isana Dewata
(Wives, Husbands, Children of Victims of the Bali Bombings). Through
discussion and mutual support, victims were able to find the strength
and spirit to overcome their hardships and turn their grief into
positive action. The group now consists of 22 families, including 47
The Bali bombings killed people from 22 countries around the world and
from several different religions.
Eka recently traveled to Vienna for the Mothers MOVE conference
organized by SAVE—Sisters Against Violent Extremism—the world’s first
female counterterrorism platform. SAVE aims to break through barriers of
nationalism, religion and ethnicity to create a global network of women
dedicated to ending violent extremism and to highlight the voices of
victims to expose the human cost of terrorism.
In Vienna, Eka joined women from Nigeria, Yemen, Egypt, Pakistan,
Palestine, Israel and Northern Ireland, all of whom have lost relatives
to terrorism or who are working actively to counter violent extremism.
Eka shared her own story and learnt from the experiences of others. Over
three days, the women built up an intimate trust. They gained
inspiration from each other’s stories and recognized that, even across
cultures, the pain a mother feels on losing a husband or child is the
Eka recognizes that a mother’s influence is very important: “Mothers are
the basis of the family. [A mother] can give her children direction.
Those children who were affected by the Bali bombing might have anger in
their hearts. Mothers can explain to them that it is no good to seek
revenge. Through cooperation with other mothers, women can better
support their children.”
“My children’s lives were changed because of cowards who acted in the
name of religion, but these bombings are not about religion,” Eka adds.
“Islam does not teach us to kill each other. Religion is a basic need,
and it is my foundation for life. I have learnt to appreciate the
blessings that God has given to us and accept all of this with a sincere
heart and without a grudge against anyone, not even against the
terrorists who killed my husband.”
* Helen Thompson is the information officer for Sisters Against
Violent Extremism, or SAVE, the world’s first female anti-terrorism
platform. SAVE, located in Vienna, Austria, functions as a strategic
platform to promote women’s voices and victims’ testimonials in
international security, counterterrorism and peace-building debates.
This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews).
Source: CGNews, July 12, 2011, <www.commongroundnews.org>.
Copyright permission is granted for publication.