Bali’s Klunkung regency just wrapped up its third-annual Semarapura Festival to showcase the area’s culture and tourist attractions, but some political friction seems to have left a blemish on the government-backed promotional festival.
Police pulled banners down at the festival that were denouncing the reclamation of Bali’s Benoa Bay, a slow-moving, highly controversial project that would see the creation of Dubai-style artificial islands in South Bali.
Following the festival, activists from ForBali, the leading local organization committed to resisting the reclamation of Benoa Bay, held a press conference on Thursday in Denpasar to discuss their banners’ removal.
Earlier this morning, ForBali sent a letter of protest about the incident to the chief of Bali Police, the chief of Klungkung Police, as well as the regent of Klungkung, activists said at the press conference.
By removing the Tolak Reklamasi (anti-reclamation) posters, police were silencing freedom of expression, according to activist Suriadi Darmoko.
Klungkung ForBali coordinator Gede Artha Dwipa also spoke about police stopping activists from carrying banners at the festival.
“The officers said those carrying the ForBali banners were endangering people around and that this wasn’t the place for a demo,” Dwipa said, as quoted by Tribun Bali.
The festival ran from Friday, April 28 until earlier this week, on Tuesday, May 2 in front of the Puputan Klungkung Monument.