Thousands yesterday rallied across Indonesia in fresh demonstrations sparked by a raft of divisive legal reforms, including banning pre-marital sex and weakening the anti-graft agency.
At least two students have died and hundreds more were injured as unrest swept across the Southeast Asian archipelago, just weeks before Indonesian President Joko Widodo starts a second term as head of the world’s third-biggest democracy.
In the capital, Jakarta, about 26,000 police and soldiers were deployed while large crowds — including placard-carrying students and factory workers — chanted for change near parliament, which was barricaded with barbed wire.
The demonstrations have been fueled by a proposed bill that includes dozens of legal changes — from criminalizing pre-marital sex and restricting contraceptive sales, to making it illegal to insult the president and toughening the Muslim-majority country’s blasphemy law.
The protests are among the biggest student rallies since mass street demonstrations in 1998 toppled the Suharto dictatorship.
Passage of the reforms has now been delayed, while Widodo has said he would consider revising a separate bill that critics fear would dilute the powers of the corruption-fighting agency, known as the KPK.
“Why is this law being revised?” said Lukmanul Hakim Ahbr, a 24-year-old Indonesian who said he returned from his studies in Malaysia to join the protests.
“We students ... reject any revision that will weaken the KPK,” he added.
Some held banners that read: “Cancel regulations that threaten people’s rights and the environment.”
Protesters have also demanded troops be pulled from Indonesia’s restive Papua region, where fresh violence killed more than 30 people this month.
They are also demanding a probe on the deaths of two university students on Sulawesi Island last week, including one who was shot during the anti-government protests. The police have denied responsibility.
Scuffles yesterday broke out between authorities and about 2,000 university students on Lombok, an island next to Bali where hundreds also rallied.
More than 1,000 demonstrators gathered in the city of Bandung on Java island.
Ahead of the inauguration of MPs today, Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Wiranto warned that any bloodshed would not be tolerated.
French authorities yesterday said that they would close a Paris mosque as part of a clampdown on radical Islam that has yielded over a dozen arrests following the beheading of a teacher who had shown his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed. The mosque in a densely populated suburb northeast of Paris had disseminated a video on its Facebook page days before Friday’s gruesome murder, railing against teacher Samuel Paty’s choice of material for a class discussion on freedom of expression, a source close to the investigation said. The French Ministry of the Interior said the mosque in Pantin, which has
LONGSTANDING NEUTRALITY: The US request came as it vied for influence in Southeast Asia with China, but Indonesia has never let foreign militaries operate there Indonesia this year rejected a proposal by the US to allow its P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance planes to land and refuel there, four senior Indonesian officials familiar with the matter have said. US officials made multiple “high-level” approaches in July and August to Indonesia’s defense and foreign ministers before Indonesian President Joko Widodo rebuffed the request, the officials said. Representatives for Indonesia’s president and defense minister, the US Department of State’s Office of Press Relations and the US embassy in Jakarta did not respond to requests for comment. Representatives for the US Department of Defense and Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi
COVID-19 UNDER CONTROL: The two prime ministers agreed to ease entry bans, and allow short-term business visits and reopen flights between Vietnam and Japan Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in his first overseas summit since taking office last month, yesterday agreed with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to step up defense and security cooperation in the face of China’s expanding influence in the region. In talks in Hanoi, Suga and Phuc set up a basic agreement allowing Japan to export defense equipment and technology to Vietnam. Japan has been pursuing such agreements to bolster ties with Southeast Asian nations and sustain its own defense industry. Suga said that his four-day trip to Vietnam and Indonesia would be key to pursuing the “free and open Indo-Pacific” vision
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said that he has no problem with being held responsible for the many killings under his crackdown on drugs, and that he is ready to face charges that could land him in jail, but not charges of crimes against humanity. Duterte’s televised remarks were among his clearest acknowledgement of the prospects that he could face a deluge of criminal charges for the bloody campaign he launched after taking office in the middle of 2016. Police have reported that at least 5,856 drug suspects have been killed in raids and more than 256,000 others arrested since