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Playing Chicken with the Police

10 Banjars Close Roads in North Kuta to Protest Arrest of 4 Community Leaders Charged with Gambling.

Bali News:
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Angry citizens from 10 banjars or local traditional communities near Dalung , in North Kuta, placed boulders, motorcycles and vehicles to blockade Jalan Raya Dalung for nearly six hours on the morning of Thursday, March 1, 2007.

The villagers, mostly men wearing traditional Balinese costumes, blocked the road to protest the detention of 4 community leaders held by police under suspicion of cock-fighting and gambling at a local temple on Tuesday, February 27, 2007.

Tabuh Rah

The villagers insisted that the four men under police custody were not involved in illegal gambling but, instead, were only innocent participants in a pujawali ceremony at the Pura Dalem Bajangan temple in Dalung that included a Tabuh Rah ritual.

A tabuh rah is a Balinese religious ritual demanding the spilling of animal blood, in this case chickens. A tabuh rah ritual is performed in strict accordance with religious rules and is not accompanied by gambling in any form

Local organizers of the tabuh rah claim police were advised beforehand of their intentions to hold the religious ceremony.

Meanwhile, Bali police, who took into custody the four community leaders, contend the arrest were not made in connection with a tabuh Rah ritual; citing fighting cocks, blades, leg strings and a large amount of money confiscated during the police raid that prompted the arrests.

A Tense Situation is Momentarily Diffused

In order to diffuse a potentially explosive situation in which armed police reinforcements (Brimob) were being deployed to the area, the assistant regent of Badung and members of the local house of representatives mediated between the police and the demonstrators.

By mid-day on Thursday the crowds dispersed when police agreed to release the community leaders on their own recognizance until after the coming New Year's celebration (Nyepi Ė March 19), at which time the Police said they would proceed with the case against the men.

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