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Indonesia’s police apprehend 634 protesters against controversial labour law during rallies in East Java

Demonstrators protest against the Indonesian government's labour reforms in Jakarta on Oct 8, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

SURABAYA, Oct 10, 2020, ANTARA. The police arrested 634 people suspected of vandalizing public facilities during rallies held in the East Java cities of Surabaya and Malang on Thursday against the newly endorsed job creation law, ANTARA reported.

“During the incidents that occurred in front of the Grahadi State Building and other places in Surabaya, 505 people were arrested, while 129 people were apprehended in Malang,” Chief of the Public Relations Section of the East Java Provincial Police Senior Commissioner Trunoyudo Wisnu Andiko remarked here on Friday.

The perpetrators not only got involved in rioting but also vandalized public facilities, including the Grahadi State Building’s fence, and resisted the actions of police personnel, he noted.

Andiko lauded the workers that had held peaceful rallies against the job creation law.

The police will shortly conduct rapid tests on the 634 people to detect the spread of COVID-19. If some of them are found reactive to COVID-19, they will undergo swab tests. If they test positive for COVID-19, they will be quarantined, he remarked.

“We will later adopt legal measures against them in accordance with the investigation results. We see children (partaking in the rallies) have no knowledge of the essence of the rallies. They are certainly not workers,” he noted.

Chief of the All Indonesia Labour Union (SPSI) of the East Java Chapter Ahmad Fauzi expressed regret over the rallies that took a violent turn.

Fauzi stated that the workers held a peaceful rally against the newly endorsed law in front of the East Java Provincial Legislative Council (DPRD).

“We express regret over the incident. We can see children aged about 15 years on the field. They unexpectedly infiltrated the rallies to provoke workers while carrying stones, sticks, and so on,” he revealed.

On Monday, the House of Representatives (DPR) and the government passed the controversial omnibus bill into law amid mounting criticism over its provisions on labor rights, indigenous community rights, and environmental protection.

The newly endorsed law has fueled extensive rallies in large Indonesian cities, including Jakarta, Bandung, Semarang, and Surabaya.

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