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YLBHI condemns police inaction over attack on People's Water Forum in Bali

CNN Indonesia - May 21, 2024

Bali – The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) has condemned the repressive actions and the forced closure of the People's Water Forum (PWF) in Bali. The PWF activities were held to coincide with the 10th World Water Forum (WWF) attended by world leaders in Bali.

Quoting from a posting on the official YLBHI Instagram account on Monday May 20, scores of people from the ormas (social or mass organization) Nusantara Garuda Patriots intimidated and forcibly closed down the PWF event.

According to the YLBHI, they forcibly removed and seized banners, billboards, art works and materials used at the event. They even committed physical violence against forum participants. In addition, PWF committee members' mobile phones were also hacked.

"This is not the first time, terror by state authorities and the hacking [of phones] was also been experienced by the previous PWF", read the YLBHI posting on Tuesday May 21.

The YLBHI is urging that all forms of intimidation and violence, both committed by the authorities as well as ormas be stopped immediately.

They also called on the state to guarantee and fulfill citizens' constitutional right to be critical without being oppressed.

It is suspected that the PWF event was closed down because it was deemed to be disrupting the WWF. The YLBHI however said that the PWF was held to accommodate the aspirations of communities that were not conveyed at the WWF.

"On the same day, the World Water Forum was also held in Bali by bringing in state officials and public figures. The PWF was also held to accommodate community voices that have been sidelined and not taken up by that forum", wrote the YLBHI.

The PWF event was held at a hotel on Jalan Hayam Wuruk in the provincial capital of Denpasar in order to respond to and criticise the 10th WWF event.

Bali regional police (Polda) public relations division head Senior Commissioner Jansen Avitus Panjaitan said that they were unaware that the PWF event had been forcibly 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/kdf/pmg)

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 "YLBHI Kecam Pembubaran People's Water Forum, Polda Bali Buka Suara".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20240521131346-20-1100379/ylbhi-kecam-pembubaran-peoples-water-forum-polda-bali-buka-suar