Jakarta – Protests against the Omnibus Law on Job Creation have again heated up in several parts of country on Thursday October 8. Actions at regional administrative centres have been joined by thousands of people from university and high-school students to workers.
After three days of continuous demonstrations, a number of regional heads have eventually met with protesters such as West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan and Yogyakarta Governor Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X.
However actions, which initially started peacefully in several parts of the country, have again ended in clashes despite the meetings with regional heads.
In Jakarta, workers, university and high-school students converged on the State Palace – although they were not able to get close. They were held back by police at three points: the Arjuna Wiwaha Horse Statue, the Harmoni intersection and in front of Gambir train station.
The crowds, who became infuriated after being refused permission to approach the Palace, tried to break through the police blockade. They threw stones, wood and other blunt objects at police who responded with water cannon and teargas.
A number of public facilities were vandalised by the demonstrators including TransJakarta bus stops and police posts. Three police posts and two TransJakarta bus stops were torched between the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle and the Sarinah shopping centre.
Clashes between demonstrators and police continued until midnight with the largest riot taking place near the Harmoni interaction in Central Jakarta located behind the State Palace.
Police were also deployed to sweep roads in the vicinity of the State Palace to arrest demonstrators suspected of being involved in the riots. Police claim that they detained almost 1,000 alleged rioters or members of anarchist groups during the anti-Omnibus Law demonstrations.
“We have arrested almost one thousand, they’re anarchists, rioters”, Metro Jaya regional police spokesperson Senior Commissioner Yusri Yunus told journalists on Thursday.
Clashes were also unavoidable in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung following a meeting with Ridwan Kamil in front of the Gedung Sate building. As the protesters gradually left the area, a separate group of people could be seen arriving.
The majority were teenagers who immediately became involved in a clash with police. The groups pelted police with items they found in the vicinity while on several occasions police fired warning shots.
In the Central Java city of Yogyakarta, a protest action ended in a clash which forced many street traders in the Malioboro shopping district to close. Yogyakarta regional police spokesperson Senior Commissioner Yuliyanto said that at least 45 people were arrested by police.
Police also said that at least nine people were injured during the clashes including five police officers, two bystanders, one journalist and a student.
Clashes also occurred in Eastern Indonesia, Maluku. A stone throwing protester in front of the Pattimura University in Ambon even targeted the Maluku regional police chief Inspector General Baharudin Djafar.
Djafar was hit by a rock as he was entering the Pattimura campus grounds. The situation became tense. It is suspected that a student threw the stone at Djafar after they were assaulted by a police officer.
Djafar insisted that they would investigate and punish the police officer who assaulted the student. “Is there anyone here who assaulted a student?”, asked Djafar. A group of officers immediately replied, “No sir”.
Surabaya and Malang
Clashes also took place in the East Java cities of Surabaya and Malang. Several public facilities were damaged and police deployed water cannon and fired teargas to disperse demonstrators.
A clash broke out however at the Youth Office and on Jl Basuki Rahmat in front of the Tunjungan Plaza, Surabaya. Police arrested at least 634 people protesting against the Omnibus Law in Surabaya and Malang.
A clash in Medan, North Sumatra, was worsened when a mysterious person on the roof of the DPRD building threw stones on five different occasions at anti-Omnibus Law demonstrators. There were no injuries reported and some protesters responded by throwing stones back.
In addition to this, protest actions were also held by students and workers in Bekasi, Tangerang, Palembang, Bandar Lampung, Semarang, Pontianak, Makassar, Kendari and several other cities.
The majority of these actions ended in clashes although so far there has yet to be any information of fatalities during the anti-Omnibus Law demonstrations. (mjo/fra)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Rentetan Bentrokan Massa dengan Aparat di Demo Omnibus Law”.]