WATCH: Indonesian Youth Riot Against New Law That Will Hurt Workers & The Environment

(source: SCMP)

Tens of thousands of Indonesians specifically high school and college students and workers, have protested for the fourth day against a controversial law that critics say will harm workers and the environment.

After relatively peaceful protests earlier in the week, clashes between protesters and riot police first broke out near Jakarta’s presidential palace.

About 1,000 protesters have been detained in Jakarta and more than 100 others arrested in other cities, according to SCMP.

The new law, known as the “Omnibus Law”, has been criticised by unions and activists for compromising labour rights with top investors also saying it would weaken environmental protections.

The bill, which is over 1,000 pages long and amends 79 existing laws, was passed with the support of seven out of nine parties.

According to BBC, The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) said the bill would cut wages, remove sick leave provisions and other protections, and undermine job security.

“It is staggering that while Indonesia is, like other countries, facing the devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic the government would seek to further destabilise people’s lives and ruin their livelihoods so that foreign companies can extract wealth from the country,” said ITUC’s General Secretary Sharan Burrow, in a statement.

In addition to unions, Indonesia’s largest Islamic organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) has also voiced opposition. NU’s leader KH Said Aqil Siroj said it would benefit only capitalists, investors and conglomerates and would “trample” on ordinary people.

Besides that, environmentalists say the wide-ranging bill eliminates environmental protections for many new projects and weakens laws aimed at stopping companies from using fire to clear forests to make way for plantations.

Phelim Kine, from the campaign group Mighty Earth, said the Indonesian government had made a “tragic miscalculation” and warned that the bill would “effectively legitimise uncontrolled deforestation”.

This new bill has got so many Indonesians riled up that protesters online hacked into Indo’s parliament website and changed its name to the “Council of Traitors”.

Protesters on the street, on the other hand, said they would ramp up their demonstrations until their demands were met. Andi Khiyarullah, a protest organiser from the Indonesia Alliance’s student executive body said, “We vow to continue returning to the streets until the new law is revoked”.

Indonesian police can be seen beating up young protesters and Gelora reported that even paramedics in Jakarta were shot with tear gas and are prohibited to help demonstrators.

Many students have been reported missing after attending the demos.

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