Indonesian police asked to stop ‘intimidating witnesses’ over football stadium tragedy

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Supporters collect funds for the victims of Kanjuruhan football stadium tragedy
Supporters collect funds for the victims of Kanjuruhan football stadium tragedy in Indonesia. Image: Kompas/IndoLeft News

By Fika Nurul Ulya in Jakarta

The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) has appealed to Indonesian police chief General Listyo Sigit Prabowo to stop his officers intimidating Aremania (Arema Football Club fans) and witnesses in the Kanjuruhan football stadium tragedy in which 131 people died.

They are also asking Prabowo to order the police professionalism and security affairs division (Propam) to question police officers accused of doing this, because intimidation and obstruction are criminal acts.

“We believe that this situation is very dangerous so the Indonesian police chief (Kapolri) must order his officers to stop acts of intimidation and twisting the facts,” said YLBHI general chairperson Muhammad Isnur in a press release last week.

The YLBHI, the Malang Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) and the Surabaya LBH in East Java, suspect that there have been several attempts at intimidation. This suspicion is based on the complaints that have come in and monitoring by the media.

First, there was a trader who became afraid after meeting with a journalist from a television station because earlier, another trader had been picked up by security personnel after talking to a journalist.

Security personnel also illegally arrested and questioned a witness with the initials K after they uploaded a video of the Kanjuruhan tragedy unfolding. K was then found by a family of a victim at the Malang district police.

Banners with the message “Fully investigate the Kanjuruhan tragedy on October 1, 2022”, which were put up on almost all of Malang’s main streets, were taken down by unknown individuals.

There has been a narrative blaming the victims, in this case the Arema supporters at the league match on Saturday October 1.

The police claim that these supporters could not accept defeat of their team and were drinking alcohol.

“Yet the fact is that the Aremania who took to the field only wanted to meet with the players to encourage them. And before the match, all of them were closely guarded so it would have been impossible for alcohol to be brought into the stadium as is being said in the narrative,” said Isnur.

The YLBHI is also asking the Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK) to be proactive in picking up and protecting witnesses without waiting for a report first, due to the growing number and danger of threats.

Isnur is also asking the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) and the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) to continue to investigate in accordance with their respective levels of authority based on prevailing legislation.

“It’s not enough for the government just to form a TGIPF [Independent Joint Fact Finding Team], but must also ensure that this team does work independently, transparently and accountably. Aside from this, it must guarantee access for the Komnas HAM, Komnas Perempuan and the KPAI to evidence related to the incident,” he said.

Translated by James Balowski for Indoleft News. The original title of the Komnas article was YLBHI Minta Kapolri Hentikan Aparatnya yang Intimidasi Aremania dan Saksi Kanjuruhan.

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