Thousands of Indonesians rally against new bill

JAKARTA • Hundreds of people were arrested in Jakarta yesterday as tens of thousands protested across Indonesia for a third day against a controversial new law that critics said will harm labour rights and the environment.

Thousands of security personnel were deployed to block access to the capital and prevent workers and students from demonstrating in front of the presidential palace and Parliament.

Jakarta police spokesman Yusri Yunus said more than 400 people — mostly teenagers — had been arrested in the past two days, accusing them of provoking unrest during the protests.

“We are now questioning them,” Yunus told AFP yesterday, adding that the situation in Jakarta was “under control”.

The government hopes a new bill — which aims to cut red tape by amending dozens of existing laws covering taxation, labour and environment regulations — will attract foreign investment.

But labour activists and green groups slammed the legislation, with Amnesty International saying it is “catastrophic” for workers.

Police banned the demonstrations citing coronavirus concerns, but workers and students marched anyway in dozens of cities across the archipelago.

Violent protests have taken place in several other cities this week, including Lampung and Bandung.

Indonesians also expressed their anger online with hackers blocking access to Parliament’s website and changing its name to the “Council of Traitors”.

They also created an account on Tokopedia and put Parliament “on-sale” for a pittance, according to media reports. — AFP