Now that the Bali Bombers are dead (executed last night, or Sunday 11/9 at 00:15 am Indonesia time), I am regretting something. Not that I regret they’re dead, I solely believe they deserved it. But I’m regretting the fact that our family travel plan to go home to Jakarta was cancelled. This year, my plan to bring my hubby, children and my father-in-law to experience Jakarta and meet my biological family was demolished.
As you may know, Indonesia’s always been notorious with travel warning ever since… forever. Umm, let me take that back. Approximately since 1998, if I’m not mistaken. But as an Indonesian, living in Indonesia, in the capital city, Jakarta, I didn’t really see what the hoopla was about. When I was still a citizen of Jakarta, I used to feel frustrated to read about what the international media say about Indonesia, and more spesifically, Jakarta. As an insider, I don’t think Jakarta’s situation was a ‘red alert’ or as scary as they said in the news.
My attitude was forced to change a little bit when I married an American and now have two interracial children. I can no longer say, “Who cares about the travel warnings, it’s usually just to scare you away from going. Nothing bad would happened.” I bet that was not what the casualties from the Jakarta Stock Exchange bombing (2000), the Christmas Eve Indonesia bombings (2000), Bali bombing (2002), JW Marriott’s bombing (2003), the Australian embassy bombing (2004) or again the Bali bombing (2005) would like to hear. An by the way, those bombings were courtesy of the Jema’ah frickin’ Islamiyah. Which lead me to question, why doesn’t the Indonesian government ban J.I. like they do Ahmadiyah?
This year, I was being tested. We had planned, around May this year, to go to Jakarta as our annual family vaation. It was a Mother’s Day present from my kids to me that they’ll join me to go home (originally I was going alone). The excitement was built up, as I, as a mother of half Indonesian children, am longing to bring my children to the place I was born and grew up at. I made detailed travel plan and itinerary on places we’re going to. I wanted them to see and experience the difference of living, eating, studying in two places (Iowa, USA and Jakarta, Indonesia). I announced to all of my families and friends about this and promised to some to meet up and introduce the two parties. My mom was in tears when I called her to let her know about this and how she’s been longing to see and touch her grandkids. I was drooling over thinking all the food and drinks that I’ve missed. Everybody was so psyched.
Until the announcement of the execution came along, and sparked the travel warning again. Most intensively, from the Australian government:
We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Indonesia, including Bali, at this time due to the very high threat of terrorist attack. The Indonesian Government announced on 9 November that the three individuals convicted for involvement in the 2002 Bali bombing were executed on 9 November. The executions could prompt a strong reaction from their supporters such as demonstrations, acts of violence and reprisal attacks. We continue to receive credible information that terrorists could be planning attacks in Indonesia. You should exercise great care, particularly around locations that have a low level of protective security, including where Western tourists gather such as beaches, bars, malls and other venues associated with foreign interests. We continue to receive credible information that Bali remains an attractive target for terrorists. We are aware that many young Australian school graduates may be travelling to Bali in mid-late November and early December. We urge these young Australians and their parents, like other Australians, to exercise heightened caution at this time. Australians should register their travel with the Australian Government on http://www.smartraveller.gov.au and take out travel insurance. If you do decide to travel to Indonesia, you should exercise extreme caution. There have been recent arrests of high level terrorist operatives in Indonesia, but we assess terrorists are continuing to plan attacks. These attacks could take place at any time, anywhere, including in places frequented by foreigners. Previous terrorist attacks against Westerners in Bali and Jakarta indicate these areas are priority targets. You should take particular care to avoid places known to be terrorist targets.
Hubby and I got into a hot argument. I was trying to assure him that nothing bad would happen; that the Indonesian authorities made announcement that the threats were just a hoax. Tried to assure him that by the time we got there (late November), those three men would be a dead meat and the situation would winding down. He went berserk. He asked me is I was a 100% sure, that I thought the political experts were just making the travel warnings up and that I would risk our children’s life. That’s when I stopped and finally regain my rationality. Do I really want to risk their life being bombed, kidnapped, or even slightly injured in this situation? Just because my kids don’t look white at all, their father is (along with my father-in-law), and that they both have a big target on his back.
I apologize to families and friends that we can’t meet up with you guys. Melly and Juinita, sorry guys. Maybe next year when I go home alone. Now that we have everything booked for Thailand, I just found out that those bastards were executed and [for now] everything seems to be okay. If you were in my shoes, what would you do? Would you go to a place where some people hate you because of your nationality? Let’s say you have a family in Baghdad or Rwanda, would you go there with your spouse and children? Or are we just whimps?