Police have arrested hundreds throughout Indonesia in protests against a controversial new law, with clashes in Jakarta turning increasingly violent this afternoon.
Thousands of protesters, mainly comprising students and workers, showed up across the country for the third day of protests against the omnibus law on job creation, which was passed by the House of Parliament (DPR) on Monday despite massive and widespread opposition.
The government-supported bill was passed into law with the expectation that it could boost the economy by cutting red tape, attract investment, and create new jobs, but it has been roundly condemned for its potential to heavily infringe on labor rights and harm the environment.
Clashes erupted in Jakarta as protesters marched towards the Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta today, with the surrounding areas heavily guarded by riot police this afternoon after authorities pushed back stone-throwing protesters with tear gas and water cannons.
The Jakarta Metro Police say they have arrested 400 people during yesterday and today’s protests, but insisted that they were anarchists taking advantage of the protests to sow unrest.
“The ones who are causing chaos are not students or workers. These are the ones being rounded up and we will continue to look for them,” Jakarta Metro Police spokesman Yusri Yunus told reporters today.
Rapid tests on those arrested have shown that 10 samples have come back “reactive,” meaning that those 10 are now in quarantine as they undergo swab tests.
Clashes also erupted in other major cities including Bandung, Medan, and Jogjakarta, leading to dozens of reported arrests.