Jakarta police detain 500 for stone-pelting

Police personnel uses a bamboo stick to fend off the rioters in Jalan Pejompongan Raya, Palmerah, West Jakarta. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

JAKARTA, Oct 14, 2020, ANTARA. The Jakarta Metropolitan Police detained about 500 teenagers for allegedly trying to provoke anti-riot police personnel and pelting stones at them after a peaceful rally against the job creation law concluded on Tuesday (Oct 13), ANTARA reported.

About four thousand protesters from the Children of NKRI and Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) had participated in the peaceful rally.

“As of Tuesday, 4.45 p.m. local time, some 500 people, including anarcho-syndicalists have been detained. They must study instead of joining the rally,” Jakarta Metropolitan Police Chief, Inspector General Nana Sudjana, said.

Speaking to journalists near Transjakarta’s Bank Indonesia Roundabout Bus Stop, he said the detainees had committed “anarchic acts” after protesters ended their peaceful protest and dispersed around 4 p.m. local time.

At least 600 “anarcho-syndicalists”, who had joined the rally, reportedly tried to provoke groups of anti-riot police officers who had assembled near the Arjuna Wiwaha Statue, also known as the Horse Statue, in Central Jakarta by pelting stones at them, he informed.

Amid continued stone-pelting, the police fired tear gas and made arrests, he said. The detainees have been secured for questioning, Sudjana added.

Over the past two weeks, protests have broken out in Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan, Semarang, Makassar, and several other cities against the job creation law, which is the country’s first omnibus law, enacted by the House of Representatives (DPR) recently.

The law has been rejected by not just workers and trade unions, but has also triggered protests from thousands of university students and junior high school students.

Amid the mass protests, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has defended the law saying that he believes it would improve the lives of workers and their families.

During an online press conference originating from the Presidential Palace, Bogor, West Java on October 9, 2020, the President said he had chaired a virtual limited meeting with government officials and governors on the law.

“The government believes that through this law, millions of workers will improve their lives and the livelihoods of their families,” he added.

He then explained the reasons for drafting the law, including the need for creating a large number of jobs for the Indonesian people. Every year, 2.9 million youngsters join Indonesia’s working age population, and are ready to enter the labor market, he said.

The need for jobs is also increasing because, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have terminated the employment (PHK) of workers, he explained.

“Especially in the midst of the pandemic, there are approximately 6.9 million unemployed and 3.5 million workers affected by COVID-19; and, as many as 87 percent of the total working population has a high school level education and below, where (as) 39 percent have primary school education; so, it is necessary to encourage new job creation, especially in the labor-intensive sector,” President Jokowi had said.

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