Families of the Kanjuruhan tragedy call for more accountability, heavier sanctions

On Saturday (Sat 8), residents of Malang regency in East Java commemorated a week in mourning for the 131 lives lost at the Kanjuruhan stadium.

Wahyoe Boediwardhana

Wahyoe Boediwardhana

The Jakarta Post


Police release tear gas into the crowded stands after a football match between Arema FC and Persebaya at the Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang regency, East Java. (AFP/STR)

October 10, 2022

JAKARTA – Negative sentiments surrounding the National Police linger as people are disappointed with their probe into the deadly Kanjuruhan stadium tragedy despite the police having named six suspects thought to be responsible for the incident.

On Saturday, residents of Malang regency in East Java commemorated a week in mourning for the 131 lives lost at the Kanjuruhan stadium. Banners could be seen across the area bearing messages of condolence and demands for the tragedy to be investigated thoroughly.

“Even after seven days since the Kanjuruhan stadium incident occurred, I am still very sad and grieving,” Indra, an Arema fan and spokesperson for the team’s fan club forum, Aremania Menggugat (Aremania Sues), told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

The group previously signed a public petition demanding the National Police, the Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI), match organizer Arema FC and league operator PT Liga Indonesia Baru (LIB) to issue a public apology and admit that the tragedy was entirely the fault of the organizers and those in charge of security.

The same demand was also made against President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and the Youth and Sports Ministry as well as the Indonesian Military (TNI), which was also involved in security at the stadium.

Some officers in military fatigues were caught on camera kicking and hitting soccer fans with batons. TNI chief Gen. Andika Perkasa said the military was investigating five of its members in relation to the incident.

“Those who are wrong must be [criminally] punished, not just removed from their respective offices. [The government] must also pay attention to the victim’s rights, and not just when they perform takziah [comforting the bereaved in Islam],” Indra said.

The petition also called for a thorough investigation into the tragedy and for the government to ensure that anyone in charge of security inside stadiums refrains from excessive violence in future matches.

Six suspects

National Police chief Gen. Listyo Sigit Prabowo announced on Thursday night that the police had named six suspects, charged under articles 359 and 360 of the Criminal Code for negligence causing death and bodily harm, respectively.

They include company commander of East Java Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) Adj. Comr. Hasdarman and Malang Police rapid response unit (Samapta) head Adj. Comr. Bambang Sidik Achmadi, who reportedly ordered their respective subordinates to fire tear gas into the crowd. Another suspect is Malang regency Police head of operations Comr. Wahyu Setyo Pranoto, who was aware of the world soccer governing body FIFA’s regulations against the use of tear gas during soccer matches but did not prevent its use in Kanjuruhan stadium.

The three remaining suspects are LIB president director Akhmad Hadian Lukita, Arema’s match organizer head Abdul Haris and security officer Suko Sutrisno.

But Malang resident Agus Yuwono said that many questions remained unanswered, particularly surrounding who had decided to allow police to carry – and subsequently fire – tear gas inside the stadium.

“I find it hard to believe, a [Brimob officer] with the rank of company commander could order the firing of tear gas without coordinating with those with a higher [ranking],” Agus said. “There are many irregularities that occurred [during the incident] and they must be answered.”

Another Malang resident Abdul Muntholib called for more accountability of the police, who have so far punished only police officers who were on duty during the stampede. The highest-ranking officer to be punished is Adj. Sr. Comr. Ferli Hidayat who was removed from his post as Malang Police chief and transferred to the human resources division of the National Police, while senior officials from the National Police have so far escaped unscathed.

“It’s not enough if the sanctions received by [these officers] are only job transfers. That’s far too cheap,” Abdul said. “[The government] needs to think about the victims and their families, particularly how those who were left behind by their parents, husbands or wives, can continue to live their lives.”

Declining public trust

The Kanjuruhan tragedy puts the police in the spotlight again. The force was recently hit by its worst scandal in decades, when scores of police officers were suspected of trying to cover up the brutal murder of junior police officer Nofriansyah Yosua Hutabarat allegedly by the head of the police’s very own internal affairs division.

The murder and alleged cover-up have eroded Indonesians’ trust in the police, from 66.7 percent in May to 54.4 percent in August, after the case made headlines, according to a poll by Indikator Politik Indonesia in August.

Public trust in the police had already been falling over the past few years, partly over reports of police brutality, including during protests. Late last year, the hashtag #PercumaLaporPolisi (no use going to the police) circulated on social media, associated with posts voicing discontent with the institution’s accountability, transparency and human rights record.

The hashtag was spawned after alternative media platform Project Multatuli published a story showing that local police in East Luwu, South Sulawesi, had ignored a report filed by a mother against her ex-husband who allegedly sexually abused her children.

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