A Syrian man is being held by immigration in Bali after holding a large gathering that went against local rules on large crowds. Wissam Barakeh is the founder of House of Om, where the gathering took place and is believed to have organised the event.
The Ministry of Law and Human Rights in the province has confirmed the group session went against current health protocols that are in place the to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Barakeh has had his temporary stay permit revoked and faces deportation.
“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,” said the head of the ministry’s Bali regional office, Jamaruli Maniuruk, earlier today.
Around 60 people attended the event, according to officials, and drew criticism from local residents in light of the restrictions in place to limit social gatherings due to coronavirus. It is alleged by officials that Barakeh didn’t make any attempts to reduce the size of the crowd at the event. Images circulating online suggest that many attendees weren’t wearing face masks.
Barakeh has been staying in Indonesia on an ITAS visa, or temporary stay permit, and has been held responsible for the gathering. The incident occurred on 18th June and has drawn heavy criticism after it became known about on social media. House of Om, in Gianyar, saw people coming together in close proximity and not adhering to social distancing.
Yesterday, Barakeh was summoned to appear in front of officials in Gianyar regency. In the meeting, it was advised that the spiritual community he ran would be closed down if further such gatherings were held.
Immigration has since become involved and seem to have deemed that Barakeh has violated current regulations from the Health Ministry regarding COVID-19. As such, he is in violation of the 2011 Immigration Law and will face deportation. He is currently being held at the Immigration Detention Centre in Denpasar and will be sent home when a flight to Syria becomes available.