Amnesty criticises Jokowi for ignoring families of soccer stadium stampede victims

CNN Indonesia – July 24, 2023
Devi Athok wearing T-shirt with pictures of his two daughters – Undated (Berita Jatim)

Jakarta – Amnesty International Indonesia says it deplores the actions of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo who could not find time to meet with the families of victims of the Kanjuruhan soccer stadium tragedy when he was visiting the East Java city of Malang on Monday July 24.

It was reported earlier that several families of victims of the Kanjuruhan soccer stadium stampede were waiting on the side of the road to convey their concerns to Widodo. Their efforts however were thwarted after they were blocked by security personnel.

Amnesty also questioned the security personnel's actions because the families only wanted to demand a fulfillment of Widodo's pledge to fully resolve the Kanjuruhan tragedy, which was triggered by the police firing of teargas into the spectator stand at the stadium and resulted in the death of at least 135 people.

"Joko Widodo's working visit to Malang should not just have been to inspect infrastructure and public utilities, but also to hear the ordinary people's aspirations, particularly people who were the victims of arbitrary actions by police and who have yet to obtain justice for what was suffered by the victims of the Malang Kanjuruhan tragedy", said Amnesty International Executive Director Usman Hamid in a statement on Monday.

Hamid accused Widodo of ignoring the Kanjuruhan case by allowing security personnel to block the families when they only wanted to convey their demands for justice to Widodo.

"The president should have made time to listen and follow up on the demands of the victims and families, not allow security personnel to block them and worse still scold them", said Hamid.

Hamid said that the families of the victims only wanted to convey a number of complaints to Widodo.

"There were at least three demands that the families of the victims wanted to convey, namely dealing with the Kanjuruhan tragedy until it is fully resolved, investigating the Malang Polres [district police] B Report and opposing the renovation of the Kanjuruhan Stadium", he said.

Hamid also said that the families were dissatisfied by the sentences handed down against defendants charged over the case that resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives.

Several of the defendants were seen as being given light prison sentences while others were released from all charges.

The Surabaya District Court handed down a not guilty verdict for two police defendants and sentenced another police officer to one year and six months prison sentence. The same court also sentenced a stadium security officer to one year in prison and two match committee members to one year and six months in prison.

Meanwhile on February 7 a military tribunal handed down a sentence of six months in prison for a TNI (Indonesian military) officer for assaulting two spectators during the Kanjuruhan tragedy.

The father of two children who died in the tragedy, Devi Athok, said that they and several of the families had been waiting in the Bululawang Market area since early morning for the president's arrival.

The families also brought photographs of their children who died during the ill-fated incident on October 1, 2022, as well as a banner with their demands. Athok said however that they were prevented from speaking to Widodo by security personnel.

"We wanted to call in Pak [Mr] Jokowi and Pak Erick Thohir's [the State-Owned Enterprises Minister and Soccer Association of Indonesia chief] pledge, but we were held back by security personnel", Athok told CNN Indonesia.

When they were trying to speak with Widodo, Athok was wearing a T-shirt with pictures of his two daughters NDR (16) and NDB (13) who died in the Kanjuruhan Stadium during the League 1 follow up match almost one year ago.

"I wasn't allowed to meet President Jokowi and was scolded and snapped at [by the security personnel], [and] told don't try anything", he said.

This did not just happen to Athok, but also to Rini Hanifah, the mother of Agus Riansyah, and Juariah, the mother of Sifwa Dinar.

In a video obtained by CNN Indonesia, both of them can be seen trying to hold up photographs of their children and banners containing their demands when Widodo visited the Bululawang Market. Both however were blocked by security personnel.

"My child is dead! My child is dead! My child is dead! I didn't cause a commotion there. I didn't make a speech, I just stayed quiet like this [holding up a banner] after all", said Hanifah following the incident.

In order to find out why security personnel blocked the families of the victims, CNN Indonesia contacted Malang District Police Chief Assistant Superintendent Putu Kholis Aryana. But he has yet to respond as of publishing this article.

CNN Indonesia also contacted Presidential Secretariat Protocol, Press and Media Affairs Deputy Head Bey Machmudin. So far however, there has also been no response to the questions sent by a message app. (pan/kid)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Amnesty Kritisi Jokowi Usai Keluarga Korban Kanjuruhan Diadang Aparat".]