Two separate investigations—one conducted by the joint independent fact-finding team (TGIPF) formed by the Indonesian government and another by the National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM)—have confirmed that the use of tear gas by the police triggered the deadly crowd crush.
Their findings are in accordance with information provided by eyewitnesses and survivors of the stampede.
TGIPF, which was headed by Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, Mahfud MD, submitted the results of its investigation to President Joko Widodo on October 14. Meanwhile, Komnas HAM shared the results of its investigation with the press on November 2.
“This has indeed been our standing point from the start. Tear gas was the main trigger for the deaths, injuries, or trauma,” a member of the commission, Choirul Anam, said at a press conference in Jakarta on November 2.
The police fired tear gas 45 times during the incident, according to another Komnas HAM member, Beka Ulung Hapsara.
The Kanjuruhan stampede occurred following a football match between Arema FC of Malang and Persebaya of Surabaya. Only supporters of Arema were present at the stadium during the match, as supporters of Persebaya were not allowed into the stadium due to security concerns.
Chaos broke out at the stadium when several Arema supporters stormed the pitch after the team lost 2–3 to Persebaya.
The Malang police, who were supported by military personnel in guarding the match, tried to restore order by firing tear gas, among other measures.
On October 20, Minister Mahfud said that the police and the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) were equally responsible for the incident.
Based on its investigation, the TGIPF made 12 recommendations, including undertaking a transformation of Indonesian football, implementing new security procedures, and carrying out stadium renovations, which the government said it will pursue promptly with the support of the world football governing body, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).
The team also recommended that PSSI chairman Mochamad Iriawan, a retired police general, resign to take moral responsibility for the incident.
Since October 24, the Indonesian Police have detained six suspects. They include Malang Police’s operation division head, a local commander of the East Java Police’s Mobile Brigade, and the head of Malang Police’s public order unit. They also include three civilians from the football match’s organizing committee, namely PT Liga Indonesia Baru president director, chief of Arema FC’s organizing committee, and a security guard at Kanjuruhan stadium.
On October 15, head of the Indonesian Police’s public relations division, Inspector General Dedi Prasetyo, said that the police will no longer use tear gas in stadiums.
“We will prioritize stewards for (stadium) safety in the future. We will no longer utilize tear gas and other crowd control equipment that could provoke spectators in stadiums,” Prasetyo added.
Support from FIFA
The Kanjuruhan tragedy shocked the world, including FIFA, which prohibits the use of tear gas in football stadiums.
“This is a dark day for all involved in football and a tragedy beyond comprehension. I extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims who lost their lives following this tragic incident,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on October 1.
President Widodo, who visited Kanjurahan Stadium on October 5 and also met with the victims of the stampede at Malang hospital, told the media that he had ordered an audit of all football stadiums in Indonesia to prevent a recurrence of the tragedy.
He further said that he had spoken to the FIFA president on October 3 to discuss the incident.
Following the telephonic conversation, Widodo received a letter from FIFA stating that Indonesia will not be subjected to sanctions over the Kanjuruhan incident.
“Based on the letter (from FIFA), Alhamdulillah (thank God), Indonesian football is not liable to a sanction,” the President said on October 8.
He informed that FIFA and the Indonesian government will set up a football transformation team that will have an office in Indonesia during the football transformation process.
FIFA will help transform Indonesia’s football in five aspects, including football stadiums’ safety and security standards and police’s football match security procedures.
Infantino arrived in Indonesia on October 18 to meet President Widodo and PSSI head Iriawan to further discuss the transformation of Indonesian football.
Prior to meeting Widodo, Infantino was greeted by Youth and Sports Minister Zainudin Amali as well as State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Minister Erick Thohir, a businessman and former owner of Inter Milan, who reportedly played a significant role in lobbying FIFA following the Kanjuruhan incident.
It was later announced that FIFA has allowed Indonesia to organize the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup as scheduled.
“All aspects of the preparations (for the U-20 World Cup) until its implementation must be ensured to run (smoothly) as well as to be handled properly and professionally according to FIFAs standards,” Widodo said at a joint press conference with Infantino after their meeting at the Presidential Palace.
The statement reemphasized that Indonesia still holds the right to host the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Earlier, several parties had raised concerns that the right may be revoked in the aftermath of the Kanjuruhan incident.
In addition, Widodo said that he expected Infantino’s visit to serve as a momentum for improving the Indonesian football system.
He informed that during the meeting, he and Infantino discussed the Kanjuruhan tragedy in detail and the latter expressed deep sympathy and concern over the incident.
“We agree that this tragedy is a very important lesson for Indonesian football and also for the world of football. Don’t let this incident happen again, don’t let the joy of the football match spectators end in sorrow and disaster,” he remarked.
They also agreed on the need for a complete transformation of Indonesian football, including ensuring that all aspects of matches meet the security standards set by FIFA.
“Both players and spectators must be safe. Thus, we agreed to review the feasibility of the stadiums and apply technology to help mitigate various potentials that endanger spectators and players,” Widodo said.
On the same occasion, Infantino voiced FIFA’s readiness to work with the Indonesian government to ensure the successful implementation of the 2023 U-20 World Cup, which will take place from May 20 to June 11, 2023. Around 24 countries are expected to participate in the competition.
Infantino also emphasized that the FIFA team is not merely visiting Indonesia, but will stay in the country to ensure that the spirit of transformation of Indonesian football is applied thoroughly.
Widodo also announced that Kanjuruhan Stadium will be demolished and a new stadium will be built at the site in accordance with FIFA standards.
“FIFA has lauded (our plan) for Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, which we will demolish and rebuild according to FIFA standards,” he said while delivering the joint press statement.
A month has passed since the Kanjuruhan tragedy, but the tears of the families and friends of the victims are yet to dry.
Devi Athok Yulfitri on November 5 could not hold back tears when he visited the graves of his daughters, Natasya Debi Ramadani (16) and Naila Debi Anggraini (13), and his ex-wife Debi Asta (35)–who were killed in the stampede.
He visited the graves as six forensic doctors of East Java’s Indonesian Forensic Doctors Association (PDFI) prepared to conduct an autopsy on the siblings as part of the investigation into the tragedy.