Protests against new labor law turn violent across Indonesia



Protests in many Indonesian cities turned violent Thursday as thousands of enraged students and workers criticized a new law they say will cripple labor rights and harm the environment.
Clashes between rock-throwing demonstrators and riot police broke out near Jakarta’s presidential palace as police tried to disperse the protesters, including workers and high school and university students.
President Joko Widodo is visiting Central Kalimantan province and was not in the palace.
Police fired tear gas at the protesters from several high schools and universities as they tried to approach the palace compound, turning roads into a smoke-filled battleground. The protesters hurled rocks and bottles.
As night fell, some protesters set fire to a subway shelter in downtown Jakarta, causing the area to turn an eerie orange color. Demonstrators also burned road barriers, several cars, a cinema and damaged several government offices.
Indonesia’s top security minister Mohammad Mahfud told a televised news conference late Thursday the government would not tolerate any action of damaging public facilities and physical attacks on police and community members.
Flanked by the military chief and other top leaders, Mahfud said that those acts are insensitive to the conditions suffered by people who are struggling against COVID-19 and financial difficulties.
“For this reason, for the sake of order and security, the government will take a firm stand against anarchist actions aimed at creating chaos and fear in society,” he said, “The government to carry out legal proceedings against all perpetrators and actors who ride on these anarchist and criminal actions.”
Similar clashes occurred in large cities all over the country, including Yogyakarta, Medan, Makassar, Manado and Bandung.
Organizers have called for a three-day national strike starting Tuesday demanding that the government revoke the legislation.

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