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Police slammed for letting nationalist group close down People's Water Forum in Bali

CNN Indonesia - May 21, 2024

Jakarta – The Denpasar Democracy Forum has condemned the Balinese regional police for allowing the People's Water Forum (PWF) in Bali to be forcibly closed down by an ormas (social or mass organisation).

Denpasar Democracy Forum Coordinator Ignasius Darmawan said that based on the information they received, the event was forcibly closed down on Monday May 20 by an ormas called the Nusantara Garuda Patriots (PGN).

And it was not only at the beginning of the week, another act of intimidation to prevent a People's Representative Forum discussion at a hotel in Denpasar was also carried out by a mob suspected of being from an ormas.

On Tuesday May 21 it was noted that the intimidation was carried out by means of blocking participants from entering the event, locking the discussion room, verbal and physical violence against discussion participants and the eviction of invited guests.

One of those who was expelled from the event was former Constitutional Court judge I Dewa Gede Palguna who was to have been one of the speakers at the forum.

"We condemn the neglectful actions of the Bali police over the arrogant position taken by the rouge ormas that intimidated and persecuted civil rights", said Darmawan in a written release on Tuesday.

The Denpasar Democracy Forum slammed that actions by the ormas which they see as anti-democratic and degrading to human dignity and rights and violating Article 28 of the 1945 Constitution.

Therefore, Darmawan said that they have asked the Bali regional police to guarantee citizens' rights to gather and express opinions.

"We've asked the police to take firm action and arrest the mass organisations that carried out the acts of intimidation, persecution and other acts of violence against civilians within the shortest possible time", he said.

The PWF event, which was planned to be held in Bali on May 21-23, which was initiated by a number of non-government organisations (NGOs) and environmental activists, was intended as a space to criticise water privatisation and encourage water management for the welfare of the ordinary people.

The event was reportedly closed down by dozens of members of the PGN who allegedly committed as series of acts of intimidation, violence and terror against the organising committee and people who attended.

The PWF is said to be a civil society event organised in response to the 10th World Water Forum which was also held in Bali this week.

When sought for confirmation, Bali regional police public relations division head Senior Commissioner Jansen Avitus Panjaitan said they did not know about the PWF event being closed down.

According to Pandjaitan, there has been no official report submitted with police in relation to the closure.

"Essentially the Bali Polda don't know about the activities held at the hotel or the plans by the parties who prohibited or stopped the activity", said Pandjaitan on Monday.

Pandjaitan mentioned that the PWF activists had failed to fulfill the requirements of the regulations on conveying an opinion in public. "There was no notification as required by regulations, moreover [information about] the event tended to be secretly disseminated through social media", he said. (yoa/kid)

The attack on the People's Water Forum can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3vokpDNJAg

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Polda Bali Dikecam Biarkan Ormas Bubarkan Forum Air Rakyat".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20240521175854-12-1100541/polda-bali-dikecam-biarkan-ormas-bubarkan-forum-air-rakya