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Battle Against Bali Reclamation

Earlier this year, a group of protesters rode from Jakarta to Bali on bicycles as an effort to raise awareness of an environmentally damaging reclamation plan. This is just one action from the protest campaign that’s been held for the past two years, that has been doing everything in its power to ensure that Benoa Bay in Bali, Indonesia, does not become a giant tourist playground.

Before that event, thousands of people including activists, NGOs, artists, students, expats, tourists, local communities, celebrities and Indonesians living abroad gathered in front of the Bali Governor’s office demonstrating against the plan. These are both the kind of mass actions being carried out by the growing For Bali (or #FORBALI) movement.

For Bali itself is a civil community which consists of students, NGOs activists, artists, youth, musicians, academics, environmental consultants and other individuals who believe that the Tanjong Benoa reclamation plan is destructive towards nature.

Alongside demonstrations, the campaign also garners people’s participation through popular media such as posters, documentary films, comics and it even launched a song titled, ‘Bali Tolak Reklamasi‘, composed by well-known Indonesian musicians Superman Is Dead, The Bullhead, Nymphea, Gold Voice and Nosstress.

The issue first came to light in December 2012 when the Governor of Bali, Made Mangku, secretly signed a legal letter to give permission to PT. Tirta Wahana Bali International to reclaim Benoa Bay, which is in the Southern part of Bali and along the Indian Ocean. The corporation aims to build a huge tourist district and a theme park similar to Disneyland, together with an international hospital, college, marina, and retail district, each complete with their own personal docks and yachts, hotels, apartments and golf courses.

Many studies have stated that the corporation should not conduct the reclamation as it will cause several issues such as flooding, increased risk of drowning, social and cultural disorder, and serious harm to biodiversity in sea and on land.

Benoa Bay is also a sacred area because of the presence of 60 natural sites, including 19 estuaries and 17 small islands that emerge during the low tide. The plan to “develop” 700 hectares of the bay will damage all of these sacred sites.

The For Bali movement is growing throughout the world, with artists, musicians, activists and filmmakers protesting on the streets to pressure the Indonesian government to stop the reclamation.