Don’t even think about protesting at the Bali Democracy Forum

There’s something kind of funny about banning protests from an international democracy event, but that’s what’s going down in Bali this Friday, as the seventh Bali Democracy Forum is scheduled to open.

Police announced that protests and demonstrations of any kind will be prohibited during the two-day international event in Nusa Dua, where the forum will be held. Nor will any rallies be tolerated at Ngurah Rai International Airport, said Bali Deputy Police chief Brig. Gen. IGN Raharja Subyakta. Raharja noted that necessary actions will be taken if rallies go down without proper permits, reports the Jakarta Post.

The democracy forum was initiated in 2008 by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) with the vision of “fostering dialogue-based regional and international cooperation in the field of peace and democracy through the sharing of experiences and best-practices that adhere to the principles of equality, mutual respect and understanding”, as quoted by the Jakarta Post.

Lofty and high-minded values of democracy at work here no doubt, but what does it all mean if citizens aren’t able to express themselves publicly during this event and security is prioritized higher than the right to assembly?

Up to 4,600 military and police personnel will be deployed to “safeguard” the democracy forum.  Five warships, four F-16 fighter jets and four Sukhoi fighter jets will additionally be deployed to service the forum’s security, said security task force commander for the event, Brig. Gen. Ruslian Hariadi.

51 participating countries that will send delegations, along with 68 international observers are in expectance to attend. 

President-elect Joko Widodo will replace SBY only 10 days after the event opens. 

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