Bali, Hi - 2007

common religion did not unite the people under a single governmental authority. Rather, there were many chieftains and tribal leaders who often warred with one another. However, Bali continued relatively undisturbed by the outside world until the 19th century. The larger Muslim populations on other islands pretty much left the Balinese to themselves. In the 19 century, the Dutch began their incursions into the island and made inroads through treaties with petty kings and chieftains who operated in isolated areas of the island. In 1906, there was a “battle to the death” between the Dutch and the Balinese that ended with Bali becoming part of the Dutch East Indies, much as Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam were absorbed into French Indochina. This was the period when the Europeans were dividing the world among themselves. The British were in India at this same time, calling their colony their “jewel in the crown.” The First World War did not change anything significantly for the Dutch colonies in the Pacific; however, after World War II, Balinese peoples began an uprising for their independence along with other parts of what is now Indonesia. The Japanese had occupied many parts of Indonesia, including Bali, and when they were driven out, the Indonesians wanted their independence from all outsiders. The Dutch finally granted independence on 8/17/45 but they did not actually leave until 12/27/49. Rather like the French who granted Madagascar independence but did not really quit the island until 4-5 years later. All the European powers were greatly weakened after the war and did not have the will or the means to fight wars against the independence of their former colonies. The Balinese have suffered much as conquered peoples by the Dutch and the Japanese, but their own land has not been very kind to them either. In 1963, Mt. Agung, one of several active volcanoes on the island, erupted mightily and killed thousands of Balinese. Then in 1965, a civil war began in the entire Indonesian archipelago as Communist Party adherents tried to impose a communistic system on the country. During that conflict more than 100,000 Balinese people died; untold numbers of Indonesians died on other islands of the country. The right wing General Suharto was finally victorious and the country remained a democracy and it continues as one today. However, more recently the Balinese have suffered from the rise of Islamic terrorism in certain parts of the country. In 2002, terrorists set off three bombs in the Kuta district, a popular resort area, killing 202 people and injuring another 129, mostly Australian tourists. Then in 2005, the same terrorist group struck again in much the same area, but the casualties were much smaller, about 28 deaths, and 65 injuries. A homegrown organization with ties to Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for both attacks as well as for other bombings in different parts of Indonesia.


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