Indonesia football stadium disaster: increasing pressure on the police

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By Creative Media News

At least 125 people, including dozens of children, were killed in a crush of fleeing spectators at Kanjuruhan stadium, and the Indonesian police are under increased scrutiny for their crowd control during the incident.

Saturday night, in reaction to a pitch invasion by fans at an overcrowded stadium in Malang regency, East Java, officers shot tear gas, causing panic among fans. Three witnesses told that tear gas was shot not only at fans on the field but also at spectators who stayed in the stands without any prior notice.

Indonesia football stadium disaster: increasing pressure on the police
Indonesia football stadium disaster: increasing pressure on the police

Massive numbers attempted to flee, causing a fatal stampede in which many were suffocated or crushed. There were 323 further injuries, some of which are in severe condition. There were at least 32 children among those slain. The youngest was between three and four years old, per the official.

“Even as the gas choked my throat, I remained in the stands,” said one fan who struggled to escape because the exit was so crowded. In my twenty years as an Arema fan, I have never been more afraid as I was that night.”

The Fifa stadium safety guidelines stipulate that stewards and police should not carry or use “crowd control gas” inside stadiums.

The senior security minister of Indonesia, Mahfud MD, announced on Monday the formation of an impartial fact-finding team to probe the incident.

Stadium disaster
Indonesia football stadium disaster: increasing pressure on the police

Separately, a national police spokesperson, Dedy Prasetyo, stated that 18 middle- to high-ranking officers were being probed for launching tear gas, along with “internal concerns linked to security management.” He stated that witnesses were being interrogated and mobile phone and security camera material were being investigated.

Rights experts have requested that any investigation be conducted objectively.

Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, demanded that the president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, conduct an impartial investigation and make the results public.

“All individuals responsible for this calamity should be held accountable, regardless of their level or position. It is insufficient for the national police and the Football Association of Indonesia to conduct their inquiry since they may be motivated to minimize or undercut officials’ full accountability, he said.

Robertson added that Fifa should conduct an inquiry and provide a public report on its findings.

Amnesty International Indonesia’s executive director, Said Usman Hamid, has also demanded an investigation, stating that “extreme force” was employed.

Nico Afinta, the police commander of East Java, justified the approach at a news conference on Sunday. He stated that various precautions had been taken before the use of tear gas, but that supporters “began attacking police, acting anarchically, and torching vehicles.”

Sunday evening, a vigil was organized outside the Kanjuruhan stadium to honor the victims. The graffiti on the walls of the stadium reflected a great deal of discontent with the officials.

“My siblings were killed. According to the news agency Agence France-Presse, a statement scratched on the stadium’s shutters beside a black ribbon and the date of the tragedy said, “Investigate thoroughly.” “ACAB,” an acronym for “all cops are thugs,” was spray-painted on another wall.

Additionally, funerals were organized for victims. “My family and I did not anticipate this outcome,” Endah Wahyuni told Reuters. The deceased included her two younger brothers, Ahmad Cahyo, 15, and Muhammad Farel, 14. “They adored soccer, but they never saw Arema live at Kanjurahan stadium.” “This was their first experience,” she stated.

Social media footage from inside the stadium depicted chaotic scenes of people fleeing enormous quantities of tear gas, with some attempting to carry injured spectators to safety.

Only Arema supporters were permitted to attend the match on Saturday night. Fans of the winning opposite team, Persebaya Surabaya, were prohibited to prevent violence between the two teams.

Longstanding football violence in Indonesia is fueled by great competition between teams. However, earlier events were not nearly as fatal as Saturday’s tragedy, which is one of the biggest sports stadium catastrophes in history.

Gianni Infantino, the president of Fifa, described the events as “a horrible day for everyone engaged in football and a tragedy beyond comprehension.” The football teams of the globe, notably Manchester United and Barcelona, expressed their condolences, while Real Madrid observed a minute of mourning before their Sunday match.

The Arema coach, Javier Roca, stated on Sunday that spectators “died in the arms of players” after a portion of the team remained on the field following the conclusion of the game.

“Upon my return from the press conference, I witnessed the disaster,” he added, adding that “boys carrying casualties went by.”

The Chilean coach told the Spanish radio Cadena Ser, “I believe the police went too far, even though I wasn’t present and didn’t witness the outcome.”

Yunus Yussi, secretary general of the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI), stated that the organization was in contact with Fifa on the incident and wanted to avoid fines.

Indonesia will host the 2023 Under-20 World Cup from May 20 to June 11, with 24 nations competing. As the host, the country qualifies automatically.

Mahfud stated that government officials, analysts, ministry representatives, football authorities, academics, and members of the media will comprise the team examining the incident. He stated that the group aimed to complete their tasks within two to three weeks.

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