Monday, December 22, 2014

Martin Place Siege

Can't believe another week has gone past... Last week started off with a major terrifying event. Just at 9:44 am on Monday, a man walked into Lindt Cafe at Martin Place with a shotgun and took everyone in the cafe, both customers and staffs, as hostages. He had them stand at the window with hands pressed on the glass holding Islamic flag. Then the 17 hours siege begun.

My colleague forwarded the news to me about half hour after it started. From then on, I had my mind on it and kept checking the news every time I could. Martin Place was soon made exclusion zone. The buildings in close proximity were immediately evacuated. The other buildings within exclusion zone were soon locked down by police. No one can come in or leave the building. Martin Place station was closed and no service going between Central and Bondi Junction. The peaceful and usually busy Martin Place soon became an eerie and frightening place.

I have some relatives and close friends working around Martin Place. My cousin works just a block away from Lindt Cafe and few other friends work around the area too. Throughout the day we kept emailing or texting checking how it was, whether they were safe or whether they could go home.

Few hours after, Opera House and NSW art gallery were closed. There was also news that a suspicious object had been found in Opera House. It got even more scary.

When that happened, we didn't know much of the detais. We didn't know how many gunmen were there and how many people were being hostages. The news only said at least 1 gunman was there. Some news said there were 13 hostages while the others said 40-50 people were in the Cafe. And we didn't know why the gunman actually wanted too..

The siege carried on till afternoon. I was already running out of data, only had 45mb left to use in 3 days, but I couldn't stop myself to keep talking on whatsapp to get some updates.

Around 4 pm, 3 hostages got out. We didn't know if they escaped or were let go. An hour after another 2 got out. Police didn't tell us anything and no further information such as how many gunmen were there or how many hostages exactly.

It went on and on until night. Still no news eventhough my family was all glued in front of the tv until we went to bed around 11 pm. Even when I was in bed, I still checked on

Then I woke up the next day and straight away checked my mobile phone. The message on my whatsapp was from my sister's, "It's over. 2 hostages died..."
Part of me was relieved it was all over, but the other half was sad that 2 people innocently died. As the news described, it was bittersweet...

Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson died that day. I bet they didn't think when they went to work that morning, that they wouldn't be coming back... I also bet, never in their life they thought that their deaths would be mourned by most people in Australia and a lot of people all over the world. Martin Place even until now, has been transformed into sea of flowers. Not by government, but by the people. Their colleagues, their families, workers in Martin Place, and even people who live further away from the city spare their time to come to Martin Place to place flowers or notes for them. The sea of flowers continue to grow. On Saturday, my friend on his way back from Brooklyn (about 1.5-2 hours train ride from Sydney CBD) met an elderly couple who brought flowers with notes written "To Katrina and Tori". That's the extent of efforts people do.

If I have to find 1 positive thing this siege has brought us, I would say it shows us how people still care about other people. And that people are still compassionate. And wether you are religious or not, that Monday had almost everyone in Sydney and also anywhere else in the world to pray or at least kept hoping all day for the safety of the hostages. That is something, isn't it?

It also started #iwillridewithyou campaign. It started when a woman on the train saw a Moslem woman quietly taking off her hijab after the siege began. When they got off, the woman chased the Moslem woman and then said to her, "Put it back on. I will walk you home." The Moslem woman then hugged her and cried, and then left. The next day after the siege ended, a lot of people posted #iwillridewithyou on instagram and offering company or car ride for people who are scared to go to work alone. It's true, one evil person having certain religion, doesn't mean everyone in that religion is evil too. And it is nice to know that a lot of people are open-minded and not attacking everyone in that religion. If it happened in Indo to minority race or religion, the majority people would start attacking the minority group as shown in history.

Rest in peace, Tori and Katrina. I wish your family and friends strength and courage to move on...

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