Report: Tear Gas Caused Indonesian Soccer Tragedy

According to a report released Wednesday by Indonesia's human rights commission (Komnas HAM), excessive and indiscriminate police use of tear gas was the primary cause behind a deadly stampede at the Kanjuruhan soccer stadium in East Java that killed 135 people last month.

Report: Tear Gas Caused Indonesian Soccer Tragedy
Image credit: EPA [via BBC News]

Facts

  • According to a report released Wednesday by Indonesia's human rights commission (Komnas HAM), excessive and indiscriminate police use of tear gas was the primary cause behind a deadly stampede at the Kanjuruhan soccer stadium in East Java that killed 135 people last month.
  • Soehatman Ramli, chairman of Indonesia’s World Safety Organization, said that the fatalities, including dozens of children, resulted from a lack of an appropriate risk management plan.
  • The world's governing soccer body, FIFA, prohibits stewards or police from carrying "crowd control" gas at matches. Komnas HAM chairman Ahmad Taufan Damanik says, "There needs to be legal responsibility."
  • The Komnas HAM report aligns with the government's conclusion that in addition to tear gas, locked doors, an overcapacity stadium, and ignored warnings of the high risk from the competing teams' rivalry were also factors in the tragedy.
  • Komnas HAM recommended that Indonesian Pres. Joko Widodo form an independent panel to audit all stadiums across the country and, if no improvements are made in three months, to suspend all soccer matches. Widodo last month ordered Kanjuruhan stadium to be demolished and rebuilt.
  • With Indonesia set to host the Under-20 World Cup next year, FIFA has also established an office in the country to help overhaul its safety measures in preparation for the event.

Sources: Al Jazeera, Nowthis, BBC News, BD News, and Reuters.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Amnesty. This report only confirms what's already known: that this was no accident but a grave crime. Excessive use of force in the form of tear gas violates FIFA'S rules and international law — to which Indonesia must adhere — which is why those responsible now need to face the consequences.
  • Narrative B, as provided by DW. This tragedy is evidence of a deeper structural problem in Indonesia. Though needed, investigating police actions and holding those responsible accountable isn't enough. Police aren't equipped or trained to properly deal with soccer crowds, despite fans having an infamously violent culture. On top of that, Indonesia's sports facilities lack standard security protocols. A deeper review needs to happen.