As the Christmas holidays approach, police in Bali are conducting site visits to leading tourist attractions and churches to help make people feel safe. In Gianyar Regency, the district where the island’s cultural capital Ubud is located, officers have visited key sites to assure religious and tourism leaders that they will be protected during the holidays.
The Gianyar Police Chief, Kompol I Ketut Tomiyasa, told police that he and his teams conducted visits throughout the week. On Wednesday, teams visited Bali Safari and Marine Park and the Santa Maria Ratu Rosari Church to explain how patrols will be increased over the festive season.
He said, “In securing Christmas and New Year, in addition to the sprint [of patrols] from the Gianyar Police, the Gianyar Police will assist with security at every church in the Gianyar District area as well as security at tourist destinations, and until now the situation remains conducive”.
Indonesia is a majority Muslim country, and Bali is a majority Hindu island. Christianity is the second largest religion in Indonesia, with 10% of the population identifying as Christian. While religious differences and diversity are largely celebrated across the country, in living memory, the Christmas holidays have been a nervous time for Christians and Catholics after the Christmas Eve bombings in 2000.
At the Bali Safari and Marine Park, Kompol Tomiyasa met with General Manager Marcellinus Driessen, Operations Manager I Ketut Ardana, and Chief of Security I Kadek Suarsana. After the meeting, Driessen told reporters, “I would like to thank the Gianyar Police and the TNI for checking the Bali Safari and Marine Park area and providing a sense of security ahead of Christmas and the New Year”.
Shortly after, Kompol Tomiyasa and his teams traveled to the Santa Maria Ratu Rosari Church on Jalan Mulawarman Gianyar. They met with the parish priest Gusti Bagus Kusumawanta, to discuss how security officers could help make the congregation feel safe during the Christmas period.
Kusumawanta told the press, “This activity is proof of the solidity of the TNI [army], Polri, and the community, especially the Santa Maria Ratu Rosari Parish congregation, and we hope that Nataru will go well, smoothly and peacefully”.
Later in the day, the Gianyar Police contingent visited the GPIB Ebenhaezer Church on Jalan Patih Jelantik, Gianyar. During this visit, Kompol Tomiyasa reiterated the regency’s commitment to ensuring the festive season is safe and comfortable for those who are celebrating and worshiping.
He said, “We, together with the TNI [will] carry out visits or monitoring of churches and tourist attractions ahead of Christmas and the New Year as an effort by the Gianyar Police to maintain security and order before, during, and after Christmas and the New Year”.
Since the recent bomb attack on a police station in West Java, police and other security forces in Bali have been on high alert. On the 7th of November, an attack was launched on the Astanaanyar Police HQ in Bandung City, killing one person and injuring a dozen more. Police subsequently confirmed that the attack was a terror-related incident and that the bomber had previously served jail time on terrorism charges.
Although the attack happened on the same day as Umar Patek’s release, police have suggested that the bombing was in response to the new changes to the Indonesian Criminal Code. The attack in West Java led security forces in Bali to increase surveillance across public areas and transportation hubs. At a press conference held in Bali in the days that followed the attack, Head of Bali Police Public Relations Commissioner Satake Bayu explained that additional officers were being deployed across the island.
Security staffing has been increased at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, Padang Bai Port, Gilimanuk Port, Benoa Harbor, Celukan Bawang Port, and across public transportation terminals. Additional staff will remain in place over the Christmas and New Year period. They. Have been given additional resources, including the regular deployment of security dogs.
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