Survivors and families of those who died in the football tragedy in October believe that the lives of those who died were disregarded.
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 Kanjuruhan Stadium disaster, residents of the Indonesian city of Malang say they feel disappointed and disrespected.
Many decided to stay away from the court proceedings this week, saying they were too traumatized by what they had experienced and too frustrated by what they called a lack of accountability from the authorities.
Two match officials were also arrested last week over the October 2022 crash, which was sparked by police firing dozens of rounds of tear gas at the end of a match between local clubs. Fans rushed to the exits, only to find many of the doors locked. Around 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 her so much. It’s so hard, I can’t let go of this trauma. I just can not. I can’t put this behind me. I think about him all the time. My family is traumatized.
His fiancé’s family is also in shock. Three days before the tragedy, I went with him to their house, as it is customary in Java to propose like this, to ask the family. His fiance often cries, even now.
For 40 days after his death I could not 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 punishment. What I wanted was for the people involved in the tear gas shooting to get the punishment they deserved. It is about the lives of 135 people. Even just an accident or assault can lead to higher penalties.
I’m just so tired. There is no justice for the victims of the Kanjuruhan tragedy. The families of the victims should leave it in God’s hands.
Andik Harianto, a survivor whose wife and two daughters died
This is a very messy situation. But what can we do now? Now I do everything for our son Rian (2 years and 3 months) – changing diapers and cleaning him. Some people asked me to go and talk to the mayor or the governor. But there is no way out.
Our loved ones are gone. If we want to keep trying to judge people, it will only bring more pain to us.
The sentence is not fair. If I hit someone on the road and they break their bones, I’ll spend more time in jail than the people in that case. And in this case, many people died.
My main concern is my son. I worry that he is less intelligent than he needs to be. When his mother was alive he could count to 10. Now he is confused. He learned a lot from his mother and sisters, who were very bright children. I don’t know how to learn it. He just wants to be close to me.
Nanda Rizky Kurnia Sandi, Survivor
I’m still traumatized. I’m still shivering. I still clearly remember the sound of the tear gas being fired. And the sound of people calling for help. And the bodies are laid. 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.
I am following the case closely because 135 lives are at stake. And now it’s as if nothing happened.
Football clubs are playing again. The handling of this case has been quiet. So quiet. 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 tear gas? It was so wrong.
In May, Indonesia will host the FIFA Men’s Under-20 tournament. How will the security forces deal with foreigners? And how will Indonesian viewers behave? I’m worried that the same thing could happen.
Galih Wahyu Prakoso, Survivor, Arema Apache Fan Club Member
Sometimes I have flashbacks of the incident when I’m about to fall asleep.
I was hurt that night, I sprained my knee falling down the stairs. My eyes burned for two weeks and my knee was hurt for almost a month.
The most horrible thing was when I saw a little child being trampled. I can’t bear to think about it now. And to see my friends dead in the hospital.
For me, the way out is not justice. Even much lesser offenses can lead to eight or nine years in prison.
I hold the organizers and the police responsible. Less than two years in prison is nothing. Why did they fire tear gas? The fans were just showing their feelings. The result means they don’t respect the victims. We lost our friends, why is the punishment so light?