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Can I Have this Dance?

Bali’s Batak Community Stage Protest at Malaysian Honorary Consul Over Theft of Cultural Icons


(6/24/2012)

Approximately one hundred Indonesians of Batak ethnic origin living in Bali staged a protest demonstration at the Malaysian Honorary Consulate on Friday, June 22, 2012.



“Batak” collectively refers to an entire range of ethnic groups originating from North Sumatra.

The protestors, calling themselves members of the Association of Batak People in Bali (IKBB), were protesting moves by Malaysia to register two Batak traditional dances as intrinsic parts of Malaysian culture. The two dances – Gindang Sambilan and Tor-tor Mandailing, are locally seen as part of Batak culture and the Malaysian moves as northing short of cultural arrogation.

The Bali protests were part of larger protests taking place across Indonesia.

As reported by Radar Bali, the protestors also called on the Indonesian government to take steps to formally register the two dances as parts of Indonesian heritage.

A spokesman for the group underlined that the protestors have no problem with the two ancesteral dances being performed anywhere in the world providing they are always acknowledged as original elements of Batak culture.

The peaceful demonstrations by the Batak community saw many dressed in traditional costumes from North Sumatra, including the added adornment of red and white armbands. Red and white are the colors of the Indonesian national flag.

The protests that took place near the Alam Kulkul Hotel in Kuta where the Malaysian Honorary Consul is located. included performances of the contested dances, and banners and pamphlets criticizing Malaysia for the attempted theft of two Batak cultural icons.

The protestors greeted passing tourist with shouts of “Horas” – the traditional salutation of welcome in North Sumatra. The peaceful protests that used music and dance to make their point were warmly received by passing tourists who paused to watch the colorful performances.


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