Tag: protesters

Thai protesters surround Government House

Thousands of protesters broke through police cordons and surrounded Thailand’s seat of government on Wednesday, marking a symbolic moment in their three-month campaign against the establishment.

About 10,000 demonstrators converged on Government House in the capital, Bangkok, settling in for what organisers said would be several days of protests.

The student-led demonstrators are calling for the resignation of the government of former coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, the writing of a new constitution and an end to the harassment of political dissenters.

They are also making what were until recently unheard of demands for limits on the wealth and powers of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who spends most of his time in Germany.

On Wednesday the king’s wife, Queen Suthida, was jeered as her limousine passed within a few metres of the protests. Demonstrators cried “My tax money!” and gave her their defiant three-fingered salute, taken from the film The Hunger Games.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida on their way to the Grand Palace in Bangkok on Wednesday
King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida on their way to the Grand Palace in Bangkok on Wednesday © Jorge Silva/Reuters

The royal couple has been in Thailand only on brief holiday visits this year, but returned on Saturday for what is expected to be a longer stay, and is now encountering a protest movement that incubated during the coronavirus lockdown.

On Tuesday police violently dispersed a pro-democracy protest at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument close to where the king’s motorcade was due to pass, and arrested 21 people. Human Rights Watch said those detained were charged with intent to cause violence, using loudspeakers without permission and several other offences. 

On Wednesday protesters gathering at the monument ahead of the march on Government House were met by pro-government demonstrators in yellow shirts, the colour of the royalist establishment. Some of those wearing yellow shirts were said to have been police.

Pro-democracy protesters dressed in traditional Thai costumes take part in the anti-government rally
Pro-democracy protesters dressed in traditional Thai costumes take part in the anti-government rally © Jack Taylor/AFP/Getty

The anti-government protesters broke through metal barriers around the monument, which commemorates the 1932 uprising against absolute monarchy, and removed the plant pots put in place after the 2014 military coup to keep people away.

Apart from some fistfights and minor scuffles, the unrest has been peaceful so far. However, the mood has turned uglier in terms of the rhetoric being used by both sides, and the apparent move by the Thai government to muster police on their side. 

“We’re seeing some signals from the opposite side that they are trying to provoke people,” said Napat Chaunrumluek, a 21-year-old student at Thammasat University. “It started in the morning, and there was a little chaos.” 

On Tuesday, hashtags insulting the king and other royals were traded on Thai social media including one saying “the king is trash” and another asking “why does the king exist?”

Additional reporting by Ryn Jirenuwat

Follow on Twitter: @JohnReedwrites

Source Article

Continue reading

Muslim protesters march against Indonesia’s new labor law

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Thousands of conservative Muslims marched in Indonesia’s capital on Tuesday demanding that the government revoke a new law they say will cripple labor rights, with some clashing with police.

Authorities blocked streets leading to the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, where clashes between riot police and rock-throwing demonstrators, including workers and students, broke out last Thursday.

The protests spread and turned violent in some cities across the world’s most populous Muslim nation, but calm had largely returned to Jakarta over the past four days.

On Tuesday, the normally clogged streets of Jakarta were nearly empty of cars, embassies were closed and many businesses were shuttered for the day after several Muslim groups announced they would stage protests.

Waving black flags bearing the Islamic declaration of faith, several thousand demonstrators, many wearing white Islamic robes, filled a major thoroughfare.

The Job Creation Law approved by Parliament last week is expected to substantially change Indonesia’s labor system and natural resources management. It amended 79 previous laws and is intended to improve bureaucratic efficiency as part of efforts by President Joko Widodo’s administration to attract more investment to the country.

The demonstrators say the law will hurt workers by reducing severance pay, removing restrictions on manual labor by foreign workers, increasing the use of outsourcing, and converting monthly salaries to hourly wages.

Protest organizer Shobri Lubis told the crowd, including members of the Islamic Defenders Front vigilante group, that they support workers and students in fighting for the rejection of the law.

“It’s undeniable that the Job Creation Law is more intended for foreign economic domination in Indonesia and not to side with local workers,” he said.

Protesters chanted “God is Great” and “We stand with workers” near the blocked roads.

Clashes broke out in the afternoon when riot police used tear gas to try to disperse protesters who were attempting to reach roads leading to the heavily guarded palace compound and the Chinatown area. Protesters hurled rocks, bricks and bottles.

Tuesday’s protest was organized by a conservative Muslim alliance that held mass protests in 2016 against Jakarta’s ethnic Chinese Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, that led to him being imprisoned for blasphemy.

Widodo said on Friday that the new law was meant to improve workers’ welfare. He said the widespread protests resulted from disinformation about the legislation. He urged those who were dissatisfied with the law to challenge it in the Constitutional Court and avoid violent protests.

Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, is eagerly courting foreign investment as a key driver of economic growth in a nation where nearly half the population of 270 million is younger than 30.

Continue reading

Protesters torch police posts as opposition mounts to new Indonesia law

Thousands of protesters set fire to barricades and police posts in the Indonesian capital Thursday as opposition mounted to a controversial new investment law critics say will harm labour rights and the environment.

Tens of thousands of people have protested in cities across the archipelago since Monday’s passing of the bill, which seeks to attract foreign investment by cutting red tape around taxation, labour and environment regulations.

Labour activists and green groups have slammed the legislation, however, with Amnesty International saying it is “catastrophic” for workers.

Nearly 13,000 police deployed Thursday to block access to government buildings in central Jakarta failed to stop protesters from making their way to the heart of the capital.

The protesters set fire to barricades and torched several bus stops and police traffic posts.

Police had banned the protests on the grounds it could spread the coronavirus. At least 300,000 people have been infected in the world’s fourth most-populous nation so far, and more than 11,000 have died.

Experts believe the true figures are much higher, however, but hidden by a lack of testing.

– Protesters with coronavirus –

Jakarta police spokesman Yusri Yunus said around 1,000 protesters had been tested since being detained by Thursday.

Some “34 of them are reactive for Covid-19”, he said, adding they would be isolated and tested again.

Workers and students also clashed with police in Makassar, Medan, Malang and Yogyakarta.

“We want the law to be cancelled,” Muhammad Sidharta told AFP in Bandung, West Java, adding the regulation “hurts Indonesian people, not only workers like me”.

Although enforcement is sometimes patchy, Indonesia has tough labour laws — particularly involving foreign companies.

Edi, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name, said he joined protests in Makassar on Sulawesi island because the law affected him as a worker.

“Earlier, we already had regulations on minimum wage but still many companies did not comply with it,” he said.

“The new law scraps the regulations on that and companies will determine wages arbitrarily.”

Indonesians also expressed their anger online, with hackers blocking access to parliament’s website and changing its name to “Council of Traitors”.

They also created an account on the Indonesia e-commerce platform Tokopedia and put parliament “on sale” for a pittance, according to media reports.

str-agn/hrl/fox

Source Article

Continue reading

Indonesian police fire water cannons at protesters rallying against jobs law

Indonesian police used water cannons and tear gas on Tuesday to disperse protesters rallying against a new jobs law in two cities on the island of Java, according to a police spokesman and media reports.



a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Workers block a road during a strike against a government omnibus bill on job creation which they believe will deprive workers of their rights, in Bandung on October 6, 2020.


© TIMUR MATAHARI/AFP/Getty Images
Workers block a road during a strike against a government omnibus bill on job creation which they believe will deprive workers of their rights, in Bandung on October 6, 2020.

Earlier, thousands of workers and students had protested peacefully across the archipelago at the start of a three-day national strike against President Joko Widodo’s “omnibus” Job Creation bill, which was passed into law on Monday.

Loading...

Load Error

Elshinta radio posted a video on its official Twitter account showing police late in the evening using water cannons against hundreds of protesters in the city of Serang in Banten province, about 70 km (43.5 miles) to the west of Jakarta.

Banten police spokesman Edy Sumardi Priadinata said via text message that the situation was under control by 9:15 pm local time and that two police officers had been injured by rocks thrown at them, but did not respond to further queries.

In Bandung, the capital of West Java province, police used tear gas against protesters who hurled rocks and fire crackers and damaged a police car, according to news website Detik.com.

The website also reported police had arrested 10 protesters.

The spokesman of West Java police could not immediately be reached for comment.

There was no significant demonstration in Jakarta. Police blocked workers from protesting in front of the national parliament, citing the need to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Critics of the omnibus law, which revises more than 70 existing laws to accelerate reform of Southeast Asia’s largest economy, say it is too pro-business with its removal of labor protections and relaxation of environmental rules.

Government officials say the law relaxes rigid labor rules and streamlines environmental rules in order to improve the investment climate and create jobs.

Markets welcome law

Indonesian markets cheered the passage of the bill, with the main stock index up as much as 1.31% and the rupiah reaching as high as 1.28%, before paring some gains.

The Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board, a government agency, said it would lead to better welfare for workers by facilitating more foreign investment.

Citibank, in a research note, said the law simplifies business licensing and addresses restrictive trade and labor policies, but added that immediate foreign investment was unlikely in the currently depressed global economic climate.

Trimegah Securities economist Fakhrul Fulvian said banks and export-oriented industries should benefit from the law, while consumer and retail sectors may be pressured as workers may increase savings to compensate for changes in labor rules.

However, many Indonesians criticized the law on Twitter, with one trending hashtag incorporating an expletive against parliament and another calling lawmakers traitors.

Continue Reading

Source Article

Continue reading

Indonesians police fire water cannons at protesters rallying against jobs law

By Gayatri Suroyo and Fransiska Nangoy

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian police used water cannons and tear gas on Tuesday to disperse protesters rallying against a new jobs law in two cities on the island of Java, according to a police spokesman and media reports.

Earlier, thousands of workers and students had protested peacefully across the archipelago at the start of a three-day national strike against President Joko Widodo’s “omnibus” Job Creation bill, which was passed into law on Monday.

Elshinta radio posted a video on its official Twitter account showing police late in the evening using water cannons against hundreds of protesters in the city of Serang in Banten province, about 70 km (43.5 miles) to the west of Jakarta.

Banten police spokesman Edy Sumardi Priadinata said via text message that the situation was under control by 9:15 pm local time and that two police officers had been injured by rocks thrown at them, but did not respond to further queries.

In Bandung, the capital of West Java province, police used tear gas against protesters who hurled rocks and fire crackers and damaged a police car, according to news website Detik.com.

The website also reported police had arrested 10 protesters.

The spokesman of West Java police could not immediately be reached for comment.

There was no significant demonstration in Jakarta. Police blocked workers from protesting in front of the national parliament, citing the need to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Critics of the omnibus law, which revises more than 70 existing laws to accelerate reform of Southeast Asia’s largest economy, say it is too pro-business with its removal of labour protections and relaxation of environmental rules.

Government officials say the law relaxes rigid labour rules and streamlines environmental rules in order to improve the investment climate and create jobs.

MARKETS WELCOME LAW

Indonesian markets cheered the passage of the bill, with the main stock index <.JKSE> up as much as 1.31% and the rupiah <IDR=> reaching as high as 1.28%, before paring some gains.

The Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board, a government agency, said it would lead to better welfare for workers by facilitating more foreign investment.

Citibank, in a research note, said the law simplifies business licensing and addresses restrictive trade and labour policies, but added that immediate foreign investment was unlikely in the currently depressed global economic climate.

Trimegah Securities economist Fakhrul Fulvian said banks and export-oriented industries should benefit from the law, while consumer and retail sectors may be pressured as workers may increase savings to compensate for changes in labour rules.

However, many Indonesians criticised the law on Twitter, with one trending hashtag incorporating an expletive against parliament and another calling lawmakers traitors.

(Reporting by Gayatri Suroyo and Fransiska Nangoy; Additional reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa, Tabita Diela and Maikel Jefriando; Editing by Ed Davies, Christopher Cushing and Gareth Jones)

Source Article

Continue reading

Kyrgyzstan in Chaos After Protesters Seize Government Buildings

MOSCOW — Kyrgyzstan descended into political chaos on Tuesday after opposition groups seized control of Parliament and released their leaders from prison in protests over parliamentary elections they have denounced as rigged.

Under mounting pressure from the protesters, the country’s Central Electoral Commission annulled the results of the Sunday vote, a day after awarding the majority of seats to two political parties with ties to the president, Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

Overnight, a small group of protesters broke away from the main body and tried to gain entry to the White House, the main government building that hosts the Parliament and the presidential administration. After the police tried to disperse them, hundreds more joined in the assault and soon took control, according to photos and video footage from the scene.

On Tuesday, the streets of Bishkek were littered with burned out cars and piles of stones, while photos emerged of the broken down gates to the White House. Inside the building, videos and photos showed broken glass and piles of debris, including government papers, with protesters wandering around the offices. In the city, residents began to form volunteer brigades to deter looters.

One person was killed and at least 680 injured during the protests, the country’s Health Ministry said.

Mr. Jeenbekov’s office said on Tuesday that he was willing to meet with the leaders of all 16 parties that had competed in the election, in an effort to ease the tensions.

But it was not clear that he was still in control of the situation Tuesday morning, as protesters captured more government buildings, according to reports from local news websites, and started appointing their own government officials. The mayors of Bishkek, the capital, and the country’s second leading city, Osh, said they were resigning.

The opposition freed Mr. Jeenbekov’s predecessor, Almazbek Atambayev, who had been serving a 11-year sentence on corruption charges he had denounced as politically motivated. The opposition also freed several other prominent political figures, including two former prime ministers.

Seen as a somewhat pro-Russian figure, Mr. Atambayev had made the decision to close the American military facility in Kyrgyzstan that from 2001 to 2014 supported American military operations in Afghanistan. Under Mr. Atambayev, Kyrgyzstan became a member of the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union. Mr. Jeenbekov, his successor, also tried to maintain good relations with Moscow.

A mountainous Central Asian nation of 6.3 million, Kyrgyzstan is a former Soviet republic, next to China but strategically aligned with Russia. It has been the focus of geopolitical rivalry between Moscow, Beijing and Washington and other players since it gained independence after the Soviet collapse in 1991.

Kyrgyzstan has a long history of political strife, fueled by regional differences between the country’s north and south and pervasive clan politics. Two of its presidents have been toppled in violent revolts over the past 15 years. Unlike its neighbors, it enjoys a pluralistic system of government but one that has proved unstable in crises.

Source Article

Continue reading

Kyrgyz protesters break into government headquarters: media

ALMATY (Reuters) – People protesting the results of a parliamentary election in Kyrgyzstan broke into government and state security headquarters early Tuesday, local news websites Akipress and 24.kg reported.

The thousands-strong protests broke out after two establishment parties, one of which is close to President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, swept Sunday’s vote, according to preliminary results.

Police had dispersed the rally late on Monday, but protesters returned to the central square of capital Bishkek hours later and broke into the building that houses both the president and parliament.

Protesters then broke into the headquarters of State Committee on National Security and freed former president Almazbek Atambayev, who was sentenced to a lengthy prison term this year on corruption charges after falling out with his successor, President Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

Jeenbekov said late on Monday he would meet on Tuesday with the leaders of all parties that had taken part in the election.

The Central Asian country of 6.5 million, which is closely allied with Russia, has a history of political volatility. In the past 15 years, two of its presidents have been toppled by revolts.

(Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Gerry Doyle)

Source Article

Continue reading

Kyrgyz protesters take government house, free ex-leader after after post-vote clashes

Protesters seized Kyrgyzstan’s seat of government and freed a jailed former president on Tuesday after demonstrations against an election marred by vote-buying accusations spiralled into violent clashes with police.

Opposition supporters hit the streets of the capital Bishkek the previous evening to demand the resignation of pro-Russian President Sooronbay Jeenbekov and a re-run of Sunday’s poll. 

Police used water cannon, stun grenades and tear gas to disperse protesters attempting to force their way through the gates of the building that houses the former Soviet republic’s parliament and presidential offices. 

Photos published by Radio Free Europe later showed protesters strolling around the building unhindered. 

A crowd of around 2,000 people then forced their way into the nearby National Security Committee building, where former president Almazbek Atambayev was jailed.

Adil Turdukuov, an activist and ally of Atambayev who witnessed the release said the ex-leader was freed “without force or use of any weapons” and that national security officials had not attempted to halt protesters.

“They surrendered,” he added. 

Footage posted on social media showed Atambayev, 64, greeting supporters after he left jail, where he was serving an 11-year-sentence for his role in the illegal release of a mob boss.

Atambayev was once close with his successor Jeenbekov, but the pair fell out shortly after the 61-year-old won the country’s last presidential election in 2017.

Both men are viewed as loyal allies of Russia, whose strategic position in the country is likely to remain unaffected despite the unrest. 

Russian leader Vladimir Putin tried to broker a peace between the pair last year but could not prevent Atambayev’s arrest. 

– Clashes through the night –

The two parties that swept Sunday’s poll are supportive of the current president and hostile towards his predecessor. 

But both were viewed by rival parties of coordinating a massive vote-buying campaign.

Monday’s clashes began after an initially peaceful rally held by losing parties spun out of control. 

Police attempted to disperse protesters when they first attempted to force their way to the main government building, known as the White House, on Monday evening. 

At one point a Radio Free Europe live feed showed police throwing stun grenades as they struggled to push back protesters, who appeared to have set several bins on fire in one particularly fierce exchange.

Health authorities said at least 120 people were being treated for injuries, but there were no reports of deaths by late Monday. 

Opposition supporters had called for a re-run of Sunday’s election after an international monitoring mission organised by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe called “credible allegations” of vote-buying. 

The preliminary count showed two pro-presidency parties, Birimdik and Mekenim Kyrgyzstan, who both favour deeper integration with Moscow, together taking around half of the vote.

Birimdik, which includes the president’s younger brother Asylbek Jeenbekov, said it was open to a re-run of the vote on Monday, but by that time police were already struggling to bring protesters under control.

Opposition parties earlier distanced themselves from the first

Continue reading