Terror-attack survivors join campaign to deradicalize

Terror-attack survivors join campaign to deradicalize

It has been 10 years since a suicide bomber blew himself up in front of the Australian Embassy on Jl. Rasuna Said in Kuningan, South Jakarta.

The terror attack on Sept. 9, 2004, claimed nine lives and injured dozens others. For survivors who are still alive, the memory of the attack remains fresh.

"The tragedy changed my life. Now I do nothing because I am not in good health anymore. I lost my job and now I entirely depend on my wife," said 42-year-old Sarbini, one of survivors from the attack.

Now he runs a small business. "I am still traumatized. I am doing alright with my small business repairing cell-phones,"

Sarbini is one of the survivors from the attack who gathered at the office of the Indonesia Peace Alliance (AIDA), a new organisation that aims at creating peace by involving terror survivors and former perpetrators.

The organisation upholds five basic values; peace, diversity, humanity, kinship and nationality.

Among the terror victims who participated, some had survived the terror attacks on the JW Marriott Hotel in 2009 and the Bali bombings in October 2002.

Under the guidance of AIDA, the survivors got to know each other and shared stories about their ordeals.

AIDA has designed programs that would allow survivors and reformed terrorists to explore the disastrous impacts of terrorism.

"The public tends to treat terror survivors as object. Here, they can do better by sharing their stories and bringing peace to the country," AIDA Executive Director Hasibullah Sastrawi told The Jakarta Post.

He said that involving terrorism survivors in AIDA's programme was not easy, the organisation had to win their trust first.

Many survivors have difficultly trusting strangers, as they had had tragic experiences, Hasibullah said.

"Our goal is also to prepare survivors to face the public, so that people will know that there are many terror survivors and that they can learn from these survivors," Hasibullah said, adding that there were 200 survivors from Jakarta and Bali involved in AIDA.

AIDA Supervisor, Max Boon, said that the survivors could be a potential resource to prevent terrorism acts from reoccurring in the future.

"We have unique stories that we can share with other people. The uniqueness that we got due to terrorism," said Boon, a Dutch national who lost both of his legs in the attack on the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta.

Terror survivors who already overcame their mental trauma have joined AIDA programs to share their stories with public. For instance, the alliance involved several survivors who joined a peace campaign programme in Klaten, Central Java, last year.

During the programme, terror survivors and reformed terrorist worked with 49 students from high schools on how to bring peace to the nation.

Sociologist and political activist Imam Prasodjo said the involvement of survivors was crucial in efforts to combat radicalism.

He said that members of the public, especially the youth, had forgotten about terror attacks in the past and would potentially ignore danger from future acts of extremism.

"The survivors should gather and work together to prevent the tragedies from happening, because the message conveyed by victims is stronger than people like us who never experience the ordeal." Imam said.

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