Governor among Bali officials reported to human rights commission

File photo of Bali Governor Wayan Koster. Photo: Pemerintah Provinsi Bali / Facebook
File photo of Bali Governor Wayan Koster. Photo: Pemerintah Provinsi Bali / Facebook

Bali Governor Wayan Koster has been accused of hindering worshipping activities by a religious organization, which this week moved to file a report at the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM).

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also locally known as Hare Krishna, filed the report against about a dozen people to Komnas HAM yesterday, the list of which included Koster.

“One of the people we reported for human rights violations is the governor of Bali … [We] suspect that there are human rights violations against our organization, ISKCON Foundation Indonesia which is headquartered in Bali,” ISKCON Indonesia secretary general, Putu Wijaya, said.

Wijaya alleged that ISKCON has been obstructed from conducting their worshipping activities, noting that the foundation is officially recognized by the Religious Affairs Ministry, Law and Human Rights Ministry, as well as the Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia (PHDI), which is the country’s leading authority on Hinduism.

Earlier this year in April, the Krishna Balaram Ashram in Denpasar ⁠— where Hare Krishna is practiced ⁠— was closed and prohibited from carrying out its activities. This follows the decision by PHDI’s Bali chapter and the province’s Majelis Desa Adat (MDA), or traditional village council, to prohibit ISKCON’s activities, which was formalized in a joint declaration signed last December.

“We were told that we defied the Bali dresta (traditional Balinese code). But we are all Balinese, our ancestors and fathers are Balinese. Our teacher who is acting as our chairman is also Balinese,” Wijaya said.

A representative of ISKCON’s legal team, Dewa Krisna Prasada, claimed that the organization has been persecuted by the local village authority and mass organizations, who entered their holy spaces with force and insulted a figure the group regarded as holy. 

“All of their actions are recorded on CCTV and we have submitted all this evidence to Komnas HAM,” Krisna said.

Read more news and updates from Bali here.

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