The unrest occurred more than a week after Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s coalition government passed the law in parliament on 5 October 5.
“[The police] detained 1,377 protesters before and after the protests on roads leading to the Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta,” said Police spokesman Chief Commissioner Yusri Yunus on October 14.
“Many of the demonstrators, most whom are young people, said they participated after their friends invited them on social media or via instant messaging apps. We also tested them for Covid-19 and found that 47 of them tested positive [for the coronavirus] and are currently in isolation.”
Yusri added that the authorities will carry out more tests over the next three or four days, to determine if the protesters will form a new cluster for Covid-19 transmission.
Yusri added that the demonstrators were more organized than initially thought, after the police confiscated an ambulance which tried to speed away after it was stopped in Central Jakarta’s Menteng district. He noted that the police arrested four people in the vehicle.
“Our interrogations of the suspects revealed that the ambulance was not used for medical purposes but to bring rocks for the protesters to use [against the police],” Yusri said after footage emerged of riot police chasing the ambulance and shooting it with tear gas.
Meanwhile, Save Indonesia Coalition ( KAMI) head Gatot Nurmantyo accused the police of stirring up public opinion against the organization, a day after police investigators arrested eight of its members in Jakarta and Medan, North Sumatra.
“The police disregarded the legal principle of innocent until proven guilty, as they drew conclusions [of the KAMI activitsts’] guilt, even though their investigations are still ongoing,” the retired Army four-star general said in a press release dated October 14.
“[The police] also showed their disrespect for this principle by disclosing the men’s identities.”
Protests against the Jobs Creation law also erupted in other Indonesian cities like Bandung, Surabaya, Medan and Makassar.
The law, which was intended, among other things, to bolster investment in Indonesia and reduce red tape, angered trade unions and civil society organizations for some of its clauses, allegedly increasing the workday from five to six days and reducing severance for laid off workers.
(Writers: Muhammad Isa Bustomi, Achmad Nasrudin Yahya | Editors: Ambaranie Nadia Kemala Movanita, Sabrina Asril, Diamanty Meiliana)