Police reportedly arrested at least 23 people on Tuesday, October 6, as they dispersed protests in several areas of Java against controversial new labor legislation. A police spokesperson confirmed that 14 people had been arrested after tear gas and water cannon were used to disperse an unauthorized demonstration in the Banten province city of Serang, 76km (47 miles) west of Jakarta, on Tuesday evening. Two police officers were reportedly injured in the incident after demonstrators began throwing rocks, but it is unclear if there were any other casualties from the scuffles.
Large-scale demonstrations were also reported in the West Java capital Bandung, where police arrested nine protesters on Tuesday night. Factories and university campuses in the city have since been placed under surveillance in an effort to prevent further unrest.
Tuesday's demonstrations came at the beginning of a three-day general strike by the Indonesian Trade Union Confederation (KSPI) against the controversial new labor legislation, which was passed into law on Monday, October 5. Although the law has been heavily promoted by the government as essential to boosting the international competitiveness of Indonesia's economy, the sweeping changes have drawn heavy criticism from unions and other groups over workers' rights and environmental protection concerns.
Further demonstrations and industrial action are likely on Java and elsewhere in Indonesia in the medium term.
Those in Indonesia are advised to monitor developments related to the labor law and associated industrial action, avoid demonstrations and political gatherings as a precaution, and heed any directives issued by local authorities.
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