KOMPAS.com- Immigration officials in Bali, Indonesia’s most iconic tourist destination, is set to deport Syrian yogi Wissam Barakeh for leading a mass yoga gathering in violation of Covid-19 health protocols.
The authorities moved against Barakeh after photos of the event at his House of Om Bali ashram in the city of Gianyar have gone viral on social media, triggering widespread online criticism.
The head of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights’ Bali branch, Jamarli Manihuruk, announced that Barakeh will be deported to Syria for holding the gathering June 18.
He noted that “[Barakeh] violated Bali Governor [I Wayan Koster’s] instruction on preventing Covid-19.”
"[He] didn't try to cancel the event even after the number of participants exceeded the maximum of 25 people allowed for gatherings. Holding [events like] this during the [coronavirus] pandemic is dangerous.”
Jamarli noted that the yoga session has also been held without the consent of village elders.
'Nothing but good intentions'
Barakeh admitted to holding the yoga gathering, which was attended by 60 people.
“I regret [holding the gathering] and I apologize for any inconvenience,” he said.
The photos showed over 60 foreign nationals participating in the yoga gathering at the House of Om Bali. The participants did not follow health protocols like wearing masks or adhering to social distancing.
But Barakeh maintained that he has nothing but good intentions since he opened the ashram in Gianyar since 2017.
“The yoga sessions are held to raise funds to provide foodstuffs for the needy in Bali,” he said.
“This includes those who lost their homes due to Mount Agung’s eruption, to those hit hard by Covid-19 nowadays.”
Barakeh is currently held at a immigration center pending deportation to his war-torn country. Bali currently has over 1,000 Covid-19 cases, most of whom are locally transmission.
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