Jakarta – An internal meeting and gathering of Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) and 18 Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) office administrators in Sanur, Bali, was forcibly broken up by police on Saturday November 12.
YLBHI Chairperson Muhammad Isnur related how the incident began at around 12.30 pm local time when five people claiming to be pecalang, or Balinese traditional security guards, entered the villa where they were meeting in Sanur.
They questioned the participants about the activities and when they were scheduled to return home, as well as repeatedly conveying that there are prohibitions on any kind of activities during the G20 Summit in Bali.
They then asked the YLBHI to produce a written statement and explanation, after which the pecalang left the villa.
At around 5 pm, scores of plain-clothed police officers together with the pecalang returned, entered the villa and accused the YLBHI of making a direct broadcast.
"They asked us to stop the meeting, close down the event, asked for ID cards and wanted to conduct a search and examine all the participant's cell phones and laptops and the location of the event", said Isnur.
"Their request was not agreed to because it violated the law and human rights", he added.
Isnur said that the police repeatedly said that the YLBHI activities did not have a permit from the local village authorities and that restrictions were currently being applied on activities in several areas.
The YLBHI however, had already checked whether the villa was included in the restricted locations.
"Local YLBHI staff members were detained and not allowed to leave the villa", he said.
After negotiations, at around 10 pm some of the participants were allowed to leave while the remainder had to stay at the villa.
"Throughout the journey, all of the participants' vehicles were shadowed by unidentified people. Meanwhile several other people monitored the villa throughout the night until the morning and into the afternoon", said Isnur.
"The YLBHI strongly suspects that security personnel pressured village officials to come [to the villa] and carry out these actions", he added.
On Sunday morning, November 13, at around 8 am, one of the participants wanted to leave the villa to catch a flight. They were prohibited from doing this by several people who claimed to be pecalang acting under official orders.
The participant was asked to wait until 9 am, but was still not given permission to leave.
"After waiting for some time, finally at around 11.12 am the participants who were staying at the villa were able to leave and move to a different location", said Isnur.
The YLBHI, explained Isnur, condemns all of the acts of terror, intimidation and arbitrary detention (deprivation of liberty in accordance with Article 333 Paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code) committed by the police.
According to Isnur, these actions totally contract the government's statements declaring that Bali would be safe and secure during the G20 Summit.
"Therefore, we urged the government, specifically the police, to investigate all of the crimes and anti-democratic acts which occurred during the closure of the YLBHI internal meeting and gathering. In addition to this, we also call for firm action to be taken against all of the perpetrators, both the police as well as other groups", he concluded.
From Monday November 7, the YLBHI administrators had been invited to take part in attending several other conference forums. These included the 2022 Asia Democracy Assembly organised by the Asia Democracy Network (ADN), and the South East Asia Freedom of Religion and Belief (SEA FORB) Conference in Bali. (ryn/isn)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Rapat Internal YLBHI dan 18 Kantor LBH di Bali Dibubarkan Paksa Aparat".]