Survivors and families of those who died in October’s football tragedy feel the lives of the dead were not respected.
Malang, Indonesia – After the Surabaya District Court sentenced a police officer to 18 months in prison – and acquitted two others – for their role in last year’s crash at Kanjuruhan Stadium, residents of the Indonesian town of Malang are say frustrated and despised.
Many decided to stay away from the court proceedings this week, saying they were too traumatized by what they had been through and too disenchanted with what they called a lack of accountability on the part of authorities.
Two match officials were also jailed last week for the October 2022 crash, which was triggered by police firing dozens of tear gas canisters at the end of a match between local clubs. Fans rushed to the exits, only to find many locked doors. Some 135 people died in what was one of the worst stadium disasters in history.
Almost six months later, the community is still in mourning.
Al Jazeera caught up with some of the survivors as well as relatives of those who died that night in Malang to ask how the tragedy shaped their lives.
Wiyanto, father of Septian Ragil Syahputra Wiyanto, 21 year old victim
We were so close. We spent time together every day. Praying, hanging out after work, smoking cigarettes together and talking about everything.
I still miss him so much. It’s so difficult, I can’t get rid of this trauma. I can’t. I can’t leave this behind me. I’m always thinking about him. My family is traumatized.
His fiancée’s family is also in shock. Three days before the tragedy, I went to their house with him, as is the Javanese custom to propose like this, to ask the family. Her fiancé often cries even now.
For 40 days after his death, I couldn’t go to work. I just couldn’t. My office wouldn’t allow it, so I lost my job. More than five months later, there is no real sanction. What I wanted was for those linked to the tear gas to receive the punishment they deserved. This is the life of 135 people. Even an accident or assault can lead to heavier penalties.
I am so tired. There is no justice for the victims of the Kanjuruhan tragedy. The families of the victims must leave this in the hands of God.
Andik Harianto, Survivor whose wife and two daughters died
It’s a very complicated situation. But what can we do now? I do everything now for our son Rian (2 years and 3 months) – changing nappies and cleaning him. Some people asked me to go talk to the mayor or talk to the governor. But there is no result.
Our loved ones have already left. If we want to keep trying to sue people, it will only hurt us more.
The verdict is not fair. If I hit someone on the road and they break their bones, I will spend more time in jail than the people in this case. And in this case, many people died.
My main concern is for my son. I’m afraid he’s less intelligent than he should be. When his mother was alive, he could count to 10. Now he’s confused. He learned a lot from his mother and his sisters, who were very intelligent children. I don’t know how to teach him. He just wants to be near me.
Nanda Rizky Kurnia Sandi, survivor
I am still traumatized. I still have chills. I still clearly remember the sound of tear gas being fired. And the sound of people screaming for help. And the bodies lying down. Their faces – I remember them clearly.
I haven’t watched football in a stadium since Kanjuruhan. My friends asked me to go watch football in other cities. but I do not want to.
I’ve been following the case closely because it’s about 135 lives. And now it’s like nothing happened.
Football clubs are playing again. The handling of this case went smoothly. So calm. Punishment is not enough. We always want justice. Why did the committee sell more tickets than the stadium’s capacity? And the police, why would they use tear gas? It was so wrong.
In May, Indonesia will host the FIFA Men’s Under-20 Tournament. How will security forces treat foreigners? And how will the Indonesian spectators behave? I’m afraid the same thing could happen.
Galih Wahyu Prakoso, survivor, Arema Apache fan club member
I sometimes have flashbacks of the incident when I’m about to sleep.
I was injured that night, sprained my knee falling down the stairs. My eyes burned for two weeks and my knee was injured for almost a month.
The most horrible thing was when I saw a small child being trampled. I can’t bear to think about it now. And see my friends, dead in the hospital.
For me, the result is not justice. Even much milder violations can result in eight or nine years in prison.
I hold the organizers responsible and the police. Less than two years in prison is nothing. Why did they throw tear gas? The fans only showed their feelings. The result means they don’t respect the victims. We lost our friends, how come the punishment is so light?