Indonesian police quickly came under fire on Sunday for their role in the tragedy that killed at least 125 people Saturday at a stadium in Malang, east of the island of Java.

This drama, one of the worst ever to occur in a stadium, also left 323 injured, according to a latest report.

It all started when fans of the local football team Arema FC entered the pitch at the Kanjuruhan stadium, after their team's defeat (2-3) against that of Persebaya Surabaya, the neighboring city.

The stadium contained 42,000 people and was full according to the authorities.

About 3,000 spectators filled the pitch after the match.

"The police have gone too far," Arema FC coach Javier Roca told Spanish radio Cadena Ser on Sunday.

Looking at the footage, the police might have been able to use other methods.

A testimony that echoes the description of the scene made by survivors, namely panicked spectators, blocked by the crowd, when the police fired tear gas grenades.

“There was nothing, no riots”

Footage taken inside the stadium shows a huge amount of gas and people clinging to the barriers, trying to escape.

Others carried wounded bystanders, pushing their way through the chaos.

“Police threw tear gas, and people immediately rushed out, pushing each other, which caused a lot of casualties, says Doni, a 43-year-old spectator, who did not want to give her last name.

There was nothing, no riots.

I don't know what happened, they suddenly fired tear gas.


Many voices were therefore raised Sunday in Indonesia to denounce the use of tear gas by the police against the thousands of supporters who had invaded the field.

The police, who described the incident as "riots", say they tried to persuade fans to return to the stands, and sent tear gas towards the public after the death of two police officers.

This caused jostling and uncontrolled crowd movements.

Many victims were trampled.

Amnesty International calls for an investigation

Amnesty International has called for an investigation "into the use of tear gas" by the police, and for those who "committed violations to be brought to justice".

The vice-governor of the province of East Java, Emil Dardak, announced Sunday evening a downward revision of the balance sheet, which goes from 174 to 125 dead, due to a double count.

“Today's death toll is 125.

124 were identified and one was not.

Some names had been registered twice,” the official told Metro TV.

“The players passed with victims in their arms, also confided the coach of Arema FC, Javier Roca.

It was like an avalanche, everything took on dramatic proportions because of the number of people who wanted to flee.


Sam Gilang, a survivor who lost three friends, described the incident as "terrifying, absolutely shocking".

"People were pushing each other and many were trampled on their way to the exit," he said.

My eyes were burning from tear gas.

Fortunately, I managed to climb over a fence and survived.

In Jakarta, 300 football fans gathered for a wake in front of the Gelora Bung Karno stadium, the biggest in Indonesia.

Some chanted "murderers" and threw fireworks in protest.

Indonesian security minister reacts

Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Sunday ordered "a comprehensive assessment of football matches and security procedures".

He asked the National Football Association to suspend all matches until "security improvements" are made.

In front of the stadium, charred vehicles, including a police truck, littered the streets on Sunday, testifying to the anger of the population after this tragedy.

The Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) made its mea culpa and many reactions poured in from the shocked football world.

This disaster is "a tragedy beyond imagining", said the president of the International Football Federation (FIFA), Gianni Infantino, while FIFA prohibits in its recommendations the use of tear gas for the control of the crowd on the field.

In a televised statement, Indonesian Security Minister Mahfud MD on Sunday called on the Indonesian police to "identify" those who "perpetrated the crimes", saying "action must be taken against them".

"We ask the national police to find the perpetrators of the crimes in the coming days," he demanded.


Indonesia: "A tragedy beyond imagining" for FIFA after the deaths in the stadium


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