Immigration revokes Bali spiritual community founder’s temporary stay permit after controversial crowded event

House of Om, a spiritual community/holistic school located in Gianyar regency and about a half hour drive from the center of Ubud, has been the subject of online ire since the weekend for hosting a crowded gathering that blatantly ignored social distancing protocols. Photo: Facebook
House of Om, a spiritual community/holistic school located in Gianyar regency and about a half hour drive from the center of Ubud, has been the subject of online ire since the weekend for hosting a crowded gathering that blatantly ignored social distancing protocols. Photo: Facebook

The founder of Bali spiritual community House of Om, Wissam Barakeh, has had his temporary stay permit revoked today for hosting a crowded gathering that violated health protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic last week, the regional office for the Ministry of Law and Human Rights in the province said.  

“The activity did not receive any official approval from the local traditional village and [they were] only informed in writing. The event is suspected of having violated COVID-19 health protocols,” Jamaruli Maniuruk, head of the ministry’s Bali regional office, said today.

Officials noted that the event drew about 60 people and created unrest among local residents, especially amid numerous limitations on social activities put out by the government amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, officials alleged that Barakeh did not attempt to reduce the number of people participating in the event. 

Barakeh, who is a Syrian citizen and holder of ITAS, or temporary stay permit, was officially determined as the one responsible for the June 18 event at House of Om, which has been the subject of online ire since the weekend. Circulation of photos believed to have been from the event showed dozens of people gathering in close proximity with no masks on, despite rising COVID-19 cases in Bali and the rest of Indonesia. 

Related – Spiritual community in Bali under fire for hosting crowded gathering, ignoring social distancing

Just yesterday, Barakeh was summoned by officials in Gianyar regency, where House of Om is located, and cautioned that they will be closing down the community should they hold another crowded gathering.

However, it appears that immigration officials have also concluded that Barakeh violated an existing Health Ministry Regulation and a gubernatorial regulation on limitations amid the coronavirus outbreak. This, in effect, means Barakeh violated Indonesia’s 2011 Immigration Law. 

Barakeh is currently detained at the Immigration Detention Center in Denpasar as his deportation is postponed until a flight to Syria becomes available.

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