This little girl could help change the lives of other victims of terrorist attacks in Indonesia

This little girl could help change the lives of other victims of terrorist attacks in Indonesia

This little girl could help change the lives of other victims of terrorist attacks in Indonesia

Updated 7 October 2017, 14:05 AEDT

Trinity Hutahaean was engulfed in flames during a terrorist attack on an Indonesian church.

She's too young to realise it, but in November last year the life of a four-year-old Indonesian girl changed forever.

Trinity Hutahaean was playing outside a church in the city of Samarinda, East Kalimantan when it was attacked by Islamic State group sympathisers.

She was engulfed in flames when a homemade bomb exploded and suffered burns to 60 per cent of her body.

A two-year-old girl, Intan Marbun was killed.

The main perpetrator, Juhanda, who goes by one name and had been convicted of terrorism offences before, was sentenced to life in prison in September.

And in an historic verdict, judges in the case ordered the Indonesian Government pay $22,000 compensation to a total of seven victims.

It is not enough for the extensive burns care Trinity will require. But it's seen as a progressive decision in a nation where victims of terrorism have rarely received any financial support.

Leading the charge for victim compensation

Tony Soemarno has been fighting for compensation for the Indonesian victims of terrorism since he was badly injured in the Marriott hotel bombing in Jakarta in 2003.

That attack killed 12 people and injured more than 150.

Mr Soemarno's head injuries and burns on his hands and back were so severe he spent nine months in a Jakarta hospital.

The pain was so bad he said had tried to take his own life.

"I didn't do it, because my mother told me, 'Who is going to feed your kids if you are gone?' I still remember those words. It was very sad," he said while fighting back tears during in an interview with ABC in a Jakarta cafe.

He said victims of past attacks have struggled to survive and must be compensated by the Indonesian Government.

"The biggest priority is health insurance. If we get the health insurance we can go to hospital freely, and that will be helping so much," he said.

"You know burn damage is the worst and some of them lost their eyes, some of them lost their two legs."

Moving forward with scars of the past

Iwan Seitawan was in the wrong place at the wrong time when the Australian embassy in Jakarta was attacked in 2004, killing nine and wounding more than 150 others.

He was on a scooter driving past the embassy compound with his then-pregnant wife.

"At the time I didn't see what hit me but it felt hot and painful, I thought I was about to die," he said.

He keeps the piece of shrapnel that landed in his eye in a small jar at his home in Depok south of Jakarta. A reminder of how he lost his right eye.

His wife gave birth to a son but died two years later from complications from injuries suffered in the attack.

"Finally, God loved her more and so she was taken to be an angel in heaven," he said.

Iwan said the Australian Government has paid his medical insurance costs since the attack, but he has never received any financial support from the Indonesian Government.

The case of Trinity Hutahaean, and the other victims of the Samarinda church bombing, opens the way for courts to use existing laws to ensure the Indonesian Government pays compensation to victims of terrorism.

But for past victims the fight continues.

Working toward compensation without trial

Indonesia's 2003 anti-terrorism law does include compensation measures, but associated technical regulations needed by prosecutors in the court do not exist, meaning it has not been used in the past.

"The Samarinda church bombing case is the first time where the prosecutor has formally included compensation in their verdict demand," Supriyadi Widodo from the Institute for Criminal Justice reform said.

He said in that case prosecutors sought a letter from the Attorney General to incorporate compensation in the court's ruling.

He argued tougher counter-terrorism laws that have been stalled in the Indonesian Parliament for months should include compensation measures for victims.

A provision being considered would mean victims of attacks would receive financial compensation regardless of court proceedings.

"We are trying to promote the idea of compensation without a trial process," he said, noting it could open the way for victims of past attacks to gain financial help.

Mr Soemarno said he would continue to fight for compensation for hundreds of terrorism victims across the country.

"How long will it take to get it? I don't know," he said.

"But better late than nothing."