Two unidentified men assaulted the outspoken environmental activist and Bali chapter chairman of the Indonesia Forum for the Environment (Walhi), Wayan “Gendo” Suardana. The violent attack left Gendo with cuts and bruises.
The attack took place in Wihartono and Partners’ office at Jl. Hasanudin 79 in downtown Denpasar. Gendo is a member of the legal firm.
“I was chatting with my friend Gung Eka in the first floor office when two unidentified men walked in. The moment they spotted me, one of them headed back to the door and gave the thumbs-up sign to his friends outside,” Gendo recalled.
The remaining man introduced himself to Gendo, who began to feel uneasy due to the guest’s tense facial expression. A few minutes later, the man received a phone call and immediately excused himself when the call ended. He reportedly asked Gendo to wait while he fetched his friends.
“I asked him, ‘What’s going on?’ and he didn’t answer and simply walked out of the door. I followed him and saw scores of people waiting outside. I felt that something bad would take place and I immediately phoned pak Wihartono and my friends.”
Gendo described the group of persons waiting outside the office as being comprised of muscular, tattooed men. Such a description fits the majority of members of local mass organizations that draw most of their income from security services, debt collecting and property repossession.
A few minutes later, two tattooed men entered the office and approached Gendo. The taller man extended his hand as though to shake Gendo’s hand, but suddenly he hit out at Gendo’s head. Gendo, who holds a fourth Dan black
belt in karate, managed to evade the strike. He failed, however, to dodge the attack launched by the second man.
The two men beat up Gendo before issuing a verbal threat and left the premises.
Gendo suffered a laceration on his lips and some of his teeth had become loose. He also vomited several times after the attack.
Gendo immediately reported the incident to the Bali Police headquarters on Jl. Supratman.
Gendo believed that the assault might have been triggered by his activities for Walhi.
“I don’t believe that the assault was caused by my activity in this legal firm. If that was the case, then surely those men would also have assaulted my associates in the office.”
Gendo and Walhi have been involved in organizing public opposition to several major tourism projects in Bali, including the development of the sprawling Bali International Park (BIP) in Jimbaran and, most recently, the provincial government’s plan to let a private company manage a spacious tract of mangrove forest in Suwung.
A source close to one of the major mass organizations revealed that the assault was just a warning and the attackers had had no plans to gravely injure Gendo.
“Gendo has offended many people, including some very powerful people. It is okay to criticize or even to oppose a project. However, if you are doing that in an abrasive manner with abrasive language, then you will get a harsh response,” he said.