Malang, Indonesia – After the Surabaya District Court sentenced a police officer to 18 months in prison – and acquitted two others – for their roles in last year’s crush at the Kanjuruhan stadium, residents in the Indonesian city of Malang say they feel frustrated and disrespected.
Many decided to stay away from this week’s court proceedings, saying they were too traumatised from what they had experienced and too disenchanted with what they called a lack of accountability from authorities.
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Two match officials were also jailed last week over the October 2022 crush, which was triggered by police firing dozens of rounds of tear gas at the end of a match between local clubs. Fans rushed for the exits, only to find many of the gates locked. 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 met some of the survivors as well as relatives of those who died that night in Malang to ask them how the tragedy has shaped their lives.
Wiyanto, Father of 21-year-old victim Septian Ragil Syahputra Wiyanto
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 just can’t. I cannot put this behind me. I am always thinking about him. My family is traumatised.
The family of his fiancé is also in shock. Three days before the tragedy, I went to their house with him, as it is the Javanese custom to propose like this, to ask the family. His fiancé often cries, even now.
For 40 days after he died, I couldn’t go to work. I just couldn’t. My office didn’t allow it, so I lost my job. More than five months later, there is no real punishment. What I wanted was for the people connected to the shooting of the tear gas to get the punishment they deserved. It’s about the lives of 135 people. Even just an accident or assault can get higher punishments.
I am just so tired. There is no justice for the victims of the Kanjuruhan tragedy. The families of the victims have to leave it in God’s hands.
Andik Harianto, Survivor whose wife and two daughters died
It’s a very messy situation. But what can we do now? I am doing everything now for our son Rian (2 years and 3 months old) – changing diapers and cleaning him. Some people have asked me to go and talk to the mayor or talk to the governor. But there is no outcome.
Our loved ones are already gone. If we want to keep trying to sue people, it will just bring more pain for us.
The verdict is not fair. If I hit someone on the road and he breaks his bones, I would get more time in jail than the people in this case. And in this case, many people died.
My main worry is about my son. I worry he is less intelligent than he should be. When his mother was alive, he could count to 10. Now he is confused. He learned a lot from his mum and sisters, who were very smart kids. I don’t know how to teach him. He just wants to be close to me.
Nanda Rizky Kurnia Sandi, Survivor
I am still traumatised. I still get the chills. I still clearly remember the sound of tear gas being fired. And the sound of people crying for help. And the bodies being laid 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 don’t want to.
I have been following the case closely because it’s about 135 lives. And now, it’s like nothing happened at all.
The football clubs are playing again. The handling of this case has gone on quietly. So quiet. The punishment is not enough. We still want justice. Why did the committee sell more tickets than the capacity of the stadium? And the police, why would they use teargas? It was so wrong.
In May, Indonesia will host the men’s under-20 FIFA tournament. How will security forces deal with foreigners? And how will the Indonesian spectators behave? I worry the same thing could happen.
Galih Wahyu Prakoso, Survivor, Member of Arema Apache Fan Club
I sometimes have flashbacks of the incident when I’m about to sleep.
I was hurt that night, I sprained my knee falling down the stairs. My eyes burned for two weeks and my knee was injured for almost a month.
The most awful thing was when I saw a small child being trampled. I can’t bear to think of it now. And to see my friends, dead in the hospital.
For me, the outcome is not justice. Even much lighter violations can result in eight or nine years in prison.
I hold the organisers responsible and the police. Less than two years in prison is nothing. Why did they shoot teargas? The fans were only showing their feelings. The outcome means they don’t respect the victims. We have lost our friends, how come the punishment is so light?