Hundreds arrested at labor law demonstrations

Indonesian police arrested 400 people Thursday at protests in the capital Jakarta against a contentious new jobs-creation law that critics say undermines workers’ rights, state news agency Antara reported.

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A protester throws a traffic cone onto a fire during Thursday in Jakarta.

At least 60 demonstrators and six police were injured at the demonstration near the Presidential Palace during the third day of a nationwide strike and demonstrations in the Southeast Asian nation, the news agency reported.

Videos showed protesters shouting, throwing stones, breaking into buildings and setting fires near the national palace as police deployed water cannon and tear gas to disperse the crowds.

The Indonesian Red Cross said some protesters were suffering from a shortness of breath after police fired tear gas. They also fired water cannon to disperse the crowd.

Critics say the new legislation, locally known as the “omnibus law,” scraps some labor rights, indigenous community rights and environmental protections. They also complain the legislation was rushed through parliament without consultation with unions.

President Joko Widodo has touted the law as a tool to create new jobs, reform labor regulations, cut red tape and attract foreign investment.

Protests erupted in major cities across Indonesia after the law’s passage in the House of Representatives on Monday.

Jakarta Metropolitan Police spokesman Yusri Yunus told Antara that police officers were injured after a group of people joined the demonstrations, and started rioting and vandalizing public facilities.

Yunus confirmed the 400 arrests and referred to the demonstrators as “an anarchic group.”

Jakarta police have deployed over 9,000 personnel as a precautionary measure against protests, Yunus told Antara.

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Police use shields to protect themselves Thursday, the third day in a nationwide strike against a controversial new labor law.

© BAY ISMOYO/AFP/AFP via Getty Images
Protesters gather in Jakarta Thursday to demonstrate against the law.

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