Jakarta – A series of demonstrations around the country against the recently enacted Omnibus Law on Job Creation took place on Tuesday October 20 to coincide with the first year of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's second term.
Labour and student organisations took to the streets demanding that Widodo cancel the Omnibus Law by issuing a government regulation in lieu of law (Perppu).
In Jakarta, protest actions were centred on the Arjuna Wiwaha (Horse) Statue on Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat. The protesters had actually wanted to give speeches opposite the nearby state palace but were blocked by security forces.
The students, who came from various different universities affiliated with National Association of University Student Executive Bodies (BEM SI), joined together under the alliance Labour Movement with the People (GEBRAK).
During yesterday's action, GEBRAK called on the public to wage a campaign of civil disobedience against the Omnibus Law. They also invited the public to take to the streets in peaceful but noisy demonstrations to put political pressure on the government.
With this pressure, it is hoped that Widodo will issue a Perppu to cancel the law which was enacted by the House of Representatives (DPR) on October 5.
As many as 10,587 officers from the TNI (Indonesian military) and police were deployed to provide security for the demonstration which gradually disbanded towards afternoon. The action proceeded peacefully.
The student will again take to the street on October 28 to mark Youth Pledge Day and will continue demand that Widodo revoke the Omnibus Law.
Protesters not wearing student university jackets however could be seen provoking the police after the students and workers left the location. Some even tried to break through the police blockade separating off Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat.
They threw mineral water bottles and stones in the direction of police. Although the incident did not last long, marines from the Air Force succeeded in disbanding them at around 6 pm.
Although the action was peaceful, police arrested scores of youth who were planning to join yesterday's demonstration. Metro Jaya regional police chief Inspector General Nana Sudjana said that as many as 33 people were detained, although he did not want to refer to this as arrests.
"Currently there are around 33 people who we have secured. We secured them, not arrested them", Sudjana told journalists near the Arjuna Wiwaha statue on Tuesday.
Protests against the Omnibus Law coinciding with Widodo and Vice President Ma'ruf Amin's first year in office also took place in Serang (Banten), Bandung (West Java), Semarang and Yogyakarta (Central Java) and Surabaya (East Java).
In Bandung, workers and students from various different organisations and factory based trade unions centred their action at the Cileunyi traffic intersection.
Protesters from the People's Forum for the Cancelation of the Omnibus Law (Formo) packed the Rancaekek highway in the direction of Cileunyi and closed access to traffic on the Bandung-Garut highway.
In Surabaya meanwhile, protesters from labour, farmer and student organisations that are part of the Movement Against the Omnibus Law (Getol) held an action in front of the Grahadi Negara Building (the governor's office) on Tuesday afternoon.
In Yogyakarta, protesters who were dominated by students filled the Gajah Mada University (UGM) Wisdom Park intersection in an action which began with a long-march during which they walked hand-in-hand shouting slogans such as "no justice, no peace".
Likewise in Semarang, a protest against the Omnibus Law was held by labour and student organisations in front of the governor's offices and the Central Java Regional House of Representatives (DPRD).
All of Tuesday's actions proceeded in an orderly manner and did not give rise to any riots or damage to public facilities as was the case during the demonstrations on October 8.
Workers and students plan to hold protest actions over three consecutive days until October 22. (khr/fra)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Tumpah Ruah Demo Omnibus Law Warnai Satu Tahun Jokowi-Ma'ruf".]